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NOVEMBER 17, 1999


Business Stress and Love Make Estranged Bedfellows
Why does a lover leave when a long-troubled business turns around?

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One of the most difficult aspects of being an entrepreneur is keeping business problems from devouring your personal life. A distraught and angry woman recently wrote to me for advice about such a situation. Here is an edited version of her account:

"About six years ago, my business fell apart when a former business partner cleaned out the assets, left, then tried to sue me for just about anything that a person could think of. A court has ruled that my partner had no grounds to sue me for anything. I still have to sue to get back control of business property. But I have been able to build something throughout all this, and my company is starting to take off again. Now, I'm in the "Catch-22" stage: I need more help to handle the load, but I lack cash to finance the growth.

"I began seeing someone just about the time my legal problems started. We stayed together throughout this dreadful ordeal. After all this, my lover announced that I was spending too much time on the business and left. Now I am doubly devastated. Any suggestions?"

Your lover's timing was very interesting. He or she (you don't say which) came on the scene when your business was completely devastated and said good-bye just as your business relaunched. My guess is that your lover waited patiently for you to settle this fiasco, hoping that once it was over, you wouldn't spend as much time on the business and that the two of you could be together more. When that didn't happen, your lover's pent-up anger came to the fore. Or maybe he or she hoped that you would become a different person but finally gave up the fantasy and left. Also, your anger toward your former business partner may have penetrated the relationship and discouraged your lover. At the end of six years, the person had no more patience for your business problems.

Now, let's look at a different possibility. Your lover left just when your business began turning around. Is your lover a rescuer -- someone who was more attracted to you when you were helpless, victimized, and distraught? Could that be why this relationship started precisely when your business disaster began? If that's true, then this lover wouldn't have been a good partner for the long haul. Find someone who relishes your success, not your failure.

You had the internal strength to rebuild your business in the most dire of circumstances. Whatever carried you through will support you as you mourn the loss of your lover. Look at this as an opportunity to start with a clean slate. After all you've been through, you must be a master at looking for the silver lining!

Have a question on how to handle the pressures of running a business and the impact on your personal life, marriage, and family? Contact Azriela Jaffe at Please put "BW Online question" in the subject field. Your real name will be kept confidential if you request, but please give an E-mail address, phone number, and your hometown so she can contact you for more information. Because of heavy volume, Azriela cannot guarantee that she will answer every query.

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