Feb 15, 2011
What Role Does Your Spouse or Partner Play in the Success of Your Solo Practice?
This post was triggered by a very passionate argument about women’s contributions to the collective wisdom of the blogosphere between Crime and Federalism and MyShingle and morphed into Military Underdog’s smackdown challenging the idea that any specific genitalia has greater responsibilities to their children all while running their legal practices. While it was kind of devolving into a fist fight, no one threw a knockout punch nor could they. But the takeaway: for the most part, when it comes to parenting responsibilities, gender distinctions are so last century.
However, one message got lost in translation and needs to be broadcast:
The roles you and your partner (and increasingly, your children) negotiate within the family dynamic will increasingly play a major role in the success or failure of your solo practice.
Back in my consulting days one of the first things I asked a client was, ‘is your spouse or partner on board with your decision to go solo?” If they weren’t, this was a huge though not insurmountable issue. If your spouse or partner does not fully appreciate what is involved in you running a practice and the two of you have not redefined your family obligations accordingly, this can be a tremendous stress on the marriage and impact the children and prevent your business from healthy growth.
I cannot nor will I pretend to know the strains of a court schedule on a solo practitioner’s marriage or parenting roles because the majority of time I practiced I was unmarried. By the time I married and had my son my court calendar had been wound down very methodically and deliberately. That’s not to say my husband and I didn’t negotiate and renegotiate our responsibilities these past years since the inception, birth and growth of Solo Practice University. His support for the venture and his very hands-on parenting has played and continues to play a huge role. If anything, I irrationally and stubbornly keep trying to hold on to traditional ‘wife’ roles while he is more than willing to take them over. We’ve even had the conversation (more than once) of not falling into the trap of traditional household duties and defining them as male or female, husband or wife, father or mother. It’s hard as it is culturally ingrained. Plus, I enjoy some of them! All of this was and remains an ongoing negotiation but thankfully with very few bumps.
However, once you’ve negotiated with your spouse or partner, there is also the negotiation with your children, helping them to understand the constraints on your time when building your own business (or working for another, for that matter), enlisting them if they are old enough to participate and hopefully appreciate what you are doing. I know I am always seesawing between gratitude and guilt when it comes to my son. He thankfully seems to get it and that’s in no large part to my husband’s attitude about my work.
So rather than my going on and on, it would be great if you shared how you’ve negotiated with your partner on household and parental responsibilities in an effort to make creating and building your solo practice a little easier.