Book Review: “For Better or For Work”

by Meg Cadoux Hirshberg

Your boss can be such a tyrant.

He makes you labor extra hours; in fact, he thinks it’s natural that work has consumed your life. He’s a workaholic and believes you are, too. He’s obsessed with the biz, hopes you’re the same and by the way, he’s your spouse, so now what?

How does one survive when half of a marriage embraces entrepreneurship but that half isn’t you? What do you do when you didn’t sign on for workaholism? Find out by reading “For Better or For Work” by Meg Cadoux Hirshberg.

Your spouse has a dream of being his own boss. He’s filled out reams of paperwork, commandeered a corner of the basement, and quit his “day job” to throw himself into the endeavor. This, of course, affects you, your family, and your bank-book, not necessarily in that order.

So when an “entrepreneurial business sucks the entire family into its vortex” and credit cards are maxed on something you fear may fail, how do you cope? How can you trust, remain supportive, and keep the faith?

First of all, says Hirshberg, expect challenges. Businesses, like babies, need constant nurturing (although probably for a longer time). Work and home will overlap (especially if you work for the biz, too) and you’ll have disagreements, but remember that there are “no don’t-go-to-bed-angry policies” in your new HR manual.

Always, always communicate. Decide how much stress can you both tolerate, and how much risk. Where will the money come from, and are you prepared to ask relatives (a whole ‘nother stress-source) for funds?

Be willing to set limits. While it’ll be impossible to avoid bringing work home, non-work activities are important, too. Continue to fairly divvy up childcare and household chores; know when to dumb down the smartphone; and if yours is a home-based business, remember that the kids live there, too.

Finally, says Hirshberg, be prepared for surprises. Don’t hide resentments. Watch for fissures in the marriage and talk things out. Sketch out a dissolution plan, even if you’re not thinking along those lines, because it’s “easy to fall in love with” an entrepreneur and just as easy to fall out.

If ever there’s been a must-read for starting a business, this one’s it — but if you’re the starter, “For Better or For Work” is not for you.

Using interviews and her own experiences as the wife of a business-builder, author Meg Cadoux Hirshberg shows a keen understanding of what a spouse goes through when married to an entrepreneur. What’s really great is that Hirshberg “tried to examine every major area where entrepreneurship and domestic life intersect…” and in doing so, she gives non-entrepreneurial spouses food for thought and ways to steel themselves for what’s surely to come. That’s beneficial beyond belief.

This book is honest, it’s filled with examples, it has talking points at the end of each chapter, and if you’ve hitched your star to a future business star, then you absolutely need it. For richer and for poorer, “For Better or For Work” can only help.

Book reviewer Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was 3 and never goes anywhere without a book.