Tag Archives: marriage

Interesting Chart on Age as People Marry

Every so often I stumble on interesting statistics and good simple business graphics that show them. That applies to this line chart of Median age at first marriage by sex: 1890-2010 published by Imgur at imgur.com, and developed by the U.S. Census:

I’m intrigued with the way the marriage age dropped suddenly after the second world war, then increased steadily for several decades. And is still increasing today. I like it when actual data matches what we see in the real world, and we definitely see people waiting to marry at more advanced ages. 

Sometimes this kind of data generates business ideas, business opportunities, or business threats. Does it affect your business? 

An Entrepreneur’s Valentine’s Day Challenge

Today is a good day to object to all the phony entrepreneurship lore that has people putting aside life and love for business. The whole mystique of giving it all, being obsessed, and burning the midnight oil, while it might inspire some, leaves me as cold as ice. It’s a ruse. Don’t buy it.

Despite the common myth to the contrary, business passion, persistence, and perseverance do not guarantee business success. Using your business as an excuse to ignore relationships, people, and family is a mistake. Do what you love, yes, and love what you do; but stop it, often, to love life and the people you live it with.

I don’t like Valentine’s Day. Words of love issued on Feb. 14 seem a bit like the last-minute chocolates, flowers, and sweet-smelling upscale soap in the picture here: contrived, diluted, over-wrapped, and useful only at the last minute, if at all.

So today on Valentine’s Day I refer to something I wrote in the normal course of business, on a day that wasn’t Valentine’s Day. In Relationship vs. New Business, originally written in March of 2009, a student had asked me in email:

Would you have still left your job and ventured out on your own if your wife were absolutely unsupportive and opposed to the idea?

I said no. And answering the question reminded me of how important my wife’s support was to my own career. This is from my answer:

This is a tough question, obviously. Every case is different.

But we do glorify the entrepreneurial a bit too much, and we glaze over some of the risks involved. Sometimes. I know, my answer sort of spoils the story and the rah-rah of entrepreneurship, the idea that we follow our passion and overcome all obstacles. But it’s the truth. Businesses fail, and it’s naive of us to forget that sometimes they fail despite our best efforts. Sometimes the reluctant spouse is just plain right. Sometimes the failure to get investment, the obstacles that accumulate, are a message.

And looking at it realistically, there’s no denying, like it or not, that a spouse who doesn’t buy into the dream adds to the risk. You don’t want to throw the family into the mix. Plan more, research more, and either answer the objections or accept that the world is sending you a clue. Keep your job. Gulp: if you still have one.

Here’s a true story: Before I left a good job to strike out on my own, my wife said “go for it; you can do it.” And she meant it. At several key points along the way, she made it clear that we would take the risk together. There was never the threat of “I told you so; why did you leave a good job, you idiot!” What she said was “if you fail, we’ll fail together, and then we’ll figure it out. We’ll be OK.”

That was in 1983. Failures, dark times, three mortgages and $65,000 in credit card debt at one point didn’t help our relationship. But what we started back then survived, and so did we; we’re still married.

There are two entrepreneurs in that true story of the conversation with my wife, not just one. And entrepreneurship and relationships, if you want both, take two people.

Today, on Valentine’s Day, there’s still room for a reminder that real relationships are important for the other 364 days of the year, too. Say it right today, yes. But live it, don’t just say it.

Questioning 10 Things Women Need to Know About Men

I spent a spare moment on twitter last Saturday afternoon. It had been a busy day, a long drive home in the morning, quiet time to myself in the car, then an explosion of small children, a beautiful summer day, a nice dinner in the garden.

And I discovered this:

Top 10 Things All Women Need To Know About Men. It caught my eye in twitter, I clicked, I read. I liked the intro. I’m not a church goer myself, at least not anymore, but the introduction, church or not, God or not, was pleasant enough and engaging. Thoughtful.

I even like the list. There’s something in the tone that makes me like the author. I browsed his blog, called Big is the New Small, and liked a lot of what I saw there. His name is Scott Williams.

But parts of it bother me. Maybe at 61, almost 40 years married, I’m getting tired of the stereotypes. For example, when Scott writes …

We are not mind readers, say what’s really on your mind.

… I can’t help thinking how different his view is from my world. My wife has never had any trouble speaking her mind, some of my daughters do automatically, others don’t. And I don’t always. I don’t think this is a gender thing, certainly no more female than male.

And on this one:

We need our time alone: guys night out, man cave…

My response to this is: “wow, no offense to guy friends, but no thanks.” What with business to do, kids, family, trying to have a life … I never understood the guys’ night out syndrome. I never wanted it. Is that really just me? Or is that a matter of life, family, and work, leading to precious little down time, and not wanting to spend it with guy friends.

It reminds me of the recurring thread, not from Scott in this case, of people taking vacations from family. As my wife and I had kids, we never wanted vacations separate from them. Vacations were about them.

Then again, maybe it is me, maybe I am different. I’ve liked a lot of so-called “chick flix” in my day (which contradicts another point on Scott’s list) and I usually remember dates (which contradicts yet another). But I do match a lot of his points.

So why take issue? Because stereotyping genders worries me. Not that I don’t like gender differences; I do, that’s the spice of life. I’m all in favor of gender differences as long as we’re not talking about jobs, or opportunities, or compensation or freedom. And identifying men traits and women traits can even be useful (the Mars/Venus thing opened my eyes to some things I hadn’t seen before). But it makes me uncomfortable too. When Scott says, in his list of things women should know about men,

We want to be the leader and the protector… let us lead.

It worries me a bit because it hints at heirarchy, a leader and a follower, based on gender, in marriage. I guess I naturally have the instinct of protector maybe, in a physical way, male; when we used to take the kids up to the high country above Yosemite Valley, I was the one awake at night worrying about bears, because the rest of them assumed Daddy would keep them safe. But then my wife has been the mother bear protector of children sometimes more than me. She can be really scary. And, getting to the point, I don’t think marriage is about a leader and a follower. Let’s hope you have some of both, on both sides.

Another of Scott’s ten points is …

When we say nothing is wrong, “Nothing is wrong” nothing means nothing!

Good luck with that. Let me know how it goes. But, really, only one gender has trouble with this? I think not.

We want to be respected and appreciated.

Weird. What’s that doing here? Who doesn’t? What does this have to do with men and women? Is there anybody anywhere, man or woman, who doesn’t want to be respected an appreciated?

This is endearing, but it also gets old. Reminders of how we’re different can be a useful, even if we run down the list and they’re not exactly right for any one of uys. But the idea that some of this — like respect and appreciation, or leadership — are gender specific — is not that good for anybody. In my opinion.