Marriage can be tricky for leaders. The pressures of running a business can often overflow into their personal lives.
Many leaders want to build better relationships with their spouse, but they often feel overwhelmed when trying to balance building a great company with having time for their significant other. They often feel like there is just not enough time to do everything and to do everything well. It leads highly successful CEOs to feel like failures because, even though they have built a thriving company, they haven’t built a thriving personal relationship with their better half.
A major breakthrough happened for me when I learned that I could use my business skills to enhance my personal relationships. In fact, I came to understand that I needed to treat my spouse like my most important customer. It’s a tall order, but it’s well worth the effort.
Here’s how to treat your spouse like your No. 1 customer:
1. Answer every call every time.
If you’re a business owner, you understand the value of communicating with customers. Taking calls and returning calls communicates that you value the person on the other end. That’s why I made it a priority to answer every call from my spouse. I want her to know that her call is important to me, and I let every other customer know that if I see her call, I must answer it. I never want her to feel neglected or second best.
A second-mile principle I enacted was to create a personalized message for my wife. In the event I can’t get to my phone, there’s a personalized message just for her. At the end of my traditional message, I added: “And if this is my wife, just know that I am thinking about you and I love you. I look forward to hearing your voice and seeing you soon.”
This might not seem appropriate for a work voicemail, but I will testify that it has often separated me from my competition. My customers understand my values, and they know I place a premium on healthy relationships. It can be a game changer in life and business.
2. Remember the motto, ‘The customer is always right.’
“The customer is always right” is a slogan that reminds businesses that how the customer feels is important. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t correct our customers, but it speaks to the importance of how we react and treat them. In business, we use phrases like “Tell me more” or “How can I help?” These are attitudes that are essential for successful relationships too, and they can often lead to breakthroughs in marriage.
3. Invest in time together frequently and intentionally.
There is a proverb that states, “Where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.” In other words, where we invest our time is what we ultimately love. Many business leaders understand how to invest in their business to ensure future growth and development. However, the mistake that many of them make is to never invest time with their spouses and families. An investment can come in the form of unexpected phone calls, unique and special trips and thoughtful actions.
One technique that I have used is to schedule a standing monthly lunch with my number one customer. I put it on the calendar and treat it as an important meeting. I also schedule an annual lunch meeting with my children, telling them it’s my most important business meeting of the year. I ask questions and listen, and my kids have always loved it.
4. Do unexpected things to bring ‘wows.’
Customers love surprises. Great businesses work diligently to create memorable customer experiences. They seize the unexpected and go the extra mile by doing things that are unanticipated.
When a leader understands that their spouse is their number customer, they will find ways to surprise and delight them. Buy something unexpected or show up early for dinner. Spouses who are surprised or often the most satisfied.
5. Set healthy boundaries together.
The customer’s voice is essential. When the customer speaks, a wise business owner listens. Customers can often share what they want and how they want it.
Likewise, the voice of your spouse is equally essential, and great leaders give credence to this. Listen to your spouse and work together to set healthy boundaries. My wife has always helped me set boundaries around travel days and work hours. When I include my spouse in my most important decisions, she understands how important she is to me.
Every investment you make in supporting and strengthening your marriage and personal relationships pays off in dividends.