Consider the changes you went through from single life to married life or the changes from your first job to one with more responsibility.  Perhaps you have a child, left the workforce, started a new business, moved to a different state or became a grandparent.  Life is going to take many turns.  You can’t prepare yourself for every situation you might face, but you can prepare your partnership to grow closer together and not farther apart.  The same is true in business; you can’t prepare for every possible business scenario, however, if you operate as a team of trusted advisors, your business can grow in spite of the ups and downs.

As you take on new challenges in situations you face as a couple, it’s important to talk with each other about what you are learning. You’ve probably heard couples say “we’ve grown apart” or “we just don’t have the same interests anymore.”  It’s not surprising for that to happen when you consider the changes we go through in life.  In a company, if the operations department does not communicate with the sales team, they are working against each other.

In business there is a difference between a vendor relationship and a trusted advisor partnership.  In a vendor relationship, the vendor sells only what the customer says they want.  In a trusted advisor partnership, the advisor asks questions to determine the best solution to the problem and only sells what the customer needs.

You buy products and services because you have needs.  People come together in relationships because they have needs as well.  There are lessons you are meant to learn from each other and lessons you are meant to learn with each other.

Every year, big companies distribute an annual report.  They share what they’ve learned and their results with people who are interested in continuing or forming a relationship with them.  If your marriage was a business, what would your annual report say?  Who would be interested in reading it?  Who are your stockholders and do they clearly understand what your company is doing?

Two couples, one scenario:

Beth and Tom decided after their third child that she would leave the workforce to raise the kids.  Tom’s world remained relatively consistent with what he had been familiar with for years, yet Beth’s world was completely altered from what she’d been accustomed to for the past 16 years.  They each grew in their role, but they didn’t grow together.  They didn’t discuss what they were learning and what was frustrating them in their respective roles.  They assumed the other wasn’t interested in their world.

Sara and John also made the decision that Sara would stay at home and raise the kids while John continued working.  As they became parents, they read the same books and went to some parenting classes together.  When Sara left the workforce, they decided to divide and conquer meaning that Sara would read the parenting books and highlight passages important for John to read.  John was always on the lookout for business events that Sara would be interested in to keep her skills fresh if she decided to go back to work.  When John would come back from a business conference he would share with Sara what he learned and she would actively listen.  They talked about their future goals together and each was clear about the role they played in reaching their goals.  It was a team effort.

If you read a great book, you’d tell your friends about it.  You may even join a book club discussion group to dive deeper into the meaning of the book.  As you do that you are expanding who you are.  Take an interest in what is of interest to your spouse as they expand themselves.  Read a book your partner read, even if it is not one you normally would choose.  It’s not important that you share all of the same interests and hobbies, it is only important that you show an interest in your spouse, which you can do by being interested in what interests them.

Vendors are only interested in their own goals.  Trusted advisors are focused on doing the best they can for the good of the other and the partnership.  Are you a vendor in your relationship or a trusted advisor?


Merit Gest teaches people how to become Possibility Thinkers at conferences around the globe.  To book Merit for your next event, please call 720-980-1286, or visit

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