Ep 226: Healthy Relationships For Entrepreneurs

15 Minutes Read

Erin and Steve have been married for 8 years, with kids included for 7 of them. And while many relationships suffered during the pandemic, theirs got stronger, even through Erin building a business and Steve losing his corporate job.

In this episode they share their secrets for building great personal relationships.

You will discover:

  • What gets in the way of healthy relationships for many entrepreneurs and how to fix it
  • The one thing you can do every day to connect with your partner, regardless of the ups and downs of your business
  • Why you might have an easier time building relationships with customers and clients than with people in your own home

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Watch the video of this week's episode here:


Episode Transcript

Steve Haase  0:00  
We're talking about your necklace. It looks like a yin and yang, but it's not.

Erin Aquin  0:12  
It's not it's a Hawaii with diamonds.

Steve Haase  0:15  
Tell me about your Hawaiian diamonds. Tell me about that Hawaii wave of diamonds.

Erin Aquin  0:21  
Ah, we we were in Maui and 2020. Do you don't remember this? Oh, you don't remember.

Steve Haase  0:29  
I remember everything about it. I just want to talk about it. Okay.

Erin Aquin  0:34  
And we were at the airport, and I walked past all the diamonds on the way out. And we were like, what's happening in the world seems like something scary is going on. And I said, you know, I really wish I had something to commemorate this trip.

Steve Haase  0:47  
And that is, that is the moment when I said, Okay, Erin, you need to take care of the kids. Or actually, I think I said, I'm gonna go bring the kids with me. You just hang out here and you read a book.

Erin Aquin  0:57  
Julian did one go? And I went,

Steve Haase  1:00  
yep, I left you at the terminal. And I walked back. And I was like, am I gonna buy a diamond at the airport? Am I that guy who's like buying an airport? Diamond? All right, well, let's talk to the guy. And so the sales guy, he said, it was like, straight out of, Oh, who's the guy? It Anyway, he was just like, here it is, man. The two waves, you know, the two waves represent it's, it's you and your partner, right? You're kind of crested on top of each other there. You got to commemorate your Hawaii experience. I'm like, Okay, I'm gonna be the guy who buys the diamond at the airport. And he, you know, it cut open the pearl cut up in the oysters like, look, and there's a pearl in it, too. So you get an extra pearl on, like, I say is my lucky day. But now every time you wear it, I'm just like, that is so cool. I'm so glad that we have diamonds from Hawaii to commemorate our last trip.

Erin Aquin  1:52  
I don't know if diamonds come from Hawaii. But it was made in Hawaii.

Steve Haase  1:57  
The waves drop the Hawaiian waves. That's what it's

Erin Aquin  1:59  
called waves. And more importantly, like it was it was such an amazing trip. And then we went into a really hard  time. And this was like the the necklace I wore, to just remind me that like, so I'll come in up going over and go no, like, it's just the perpetual wave.

Steve Haase  2:27  
Yeah, absolutely. And I come back to what the fellow said that it's, you know, there we are. Together, we we're on this wave that we're riding together.

Erin Aquin  2:38  
Yeah. Ah, cute. We're gonna talk about relationships today.

Steve Haase  2:42  
That's why I wanted to talk about the necklace, because today is all about healthy relationships for entrepreneurs. Erin, what's the secret?

Erin Aquin  2:52  
Oh, okay. So just kind of a little bit of background for anyone that does not know this. I wrote a book, during the pandemic, I think, revitalize your relationship, it came out kind of around that time. And what was happening is during lockdown, my business got very busy. Because a lot of people found that suddenly, all the things out there in the world that they had been using to distract themselves from their sort of mediocre relationships all went away, and they were home every single day, with their partner. We were all collectively facing just a really scary, unknown period of time. And it really showed me the importance of a healthy relationship, because unlike so many of my friends, and so many of my clients, even though it was personally challenging to not, you know, see people and do things and all the uncertainty and the twists and turns of the economy, all of that stuff was true. We had such a powerful relationship. I feel like we really hit our stride as parents, as partners, you and I kind of got into this mode of like, what can we do to support each other when when I'm on a call with a client, Steve was, you know, helping the kids out with their schoolwork while he was simultaneously doing work for his nine to five job that he had at the time. So it really instilled within me the power of cultivating strong supportive relationships. And I still think that, even though for many people, you know, we're not in the same circumstance we were in in 2020. I think a lot of people kind of had a reckoning with the fact that many of us leaders, entrepreneurs, have not carved out the time, the space and the heart to have powerful personal relationships. I didn't answer your question, but that's, that's what I have to say about it.

Steve Haase  5:00  
Well, yeah, we focusing on why it matters so much. And I think that's that's what I was going to underline is that, if there's one thing we saw from that kind of scary period that we're emerging from is that the people that you share your life with, that's what matters in life. And so if your relationships are tenuous, strained, unpleasant, who cares if you have all the money in the world if you're alone and exhausted when you get there, so we're going to spend a little bit of time here sharing some of our biggest insights into what it takes to create a healthy relationship. And the place that I would start from is the acknowledgement that there is not business and life, there is only life. And business happens within that. And so if it doesn't mean you have to spend all your time with your partner, but it does mean that if you have someone with whom you share life, it's going to make business that much sweeter, and the people that you're doing business with, are also in that category. Right? We're also talking about relationships across the whole board. And not just with, with with your life partner.

Erin Aquin  6:21  
Yeah, I think that is really important. Because too many people compartmentalize their life in a way, I think that's not healthy they do sometimes, you know, we've we've watched clients who are very much kind of, I'm trying to think of what the, the way of saying it is, they're like, super serious and professional and one way with their clients, and then, or in their programs, and then, you know, with their partner, or the people in their lives, they're like a total mess. And I say that lovingly. But because you know, all of us, I think, are a mess. And we don't want to necessarily be messy at work. But we don't sometimes give ourselves enough human space, in our job in our life and our work to just be humans. And so it kind of spills over and the people in our lives sometimes get the leftovers that aren't so great. You save the best of the meal for business, and then get the leftovers.

Steve Haase  7:39  
Don't be giving your partner the leftovers. Give them the main course give them the I was gonna say filet mignon, but I'm a vegan. So whatever your version of the best, the best stuff is. And honestly, I think that brings us to the heart of what it means to have healthy relationships. Namely, that you really care. You care about that person, you care about the energy between you, you care about the space that you inhabit, together, if that's where you're coming from, whether it's your home, in a business context, that care is going to come through, and it's it becomes the currency that you can share. And it also just feels really good for yourself to care that much about another and give that gift.

Erin Aquin  8:30  
Me 100%. And I think I think it's challenging because if you lead a business or you own a business, the ups and downs and the drama is what it is. It's trauma, we have a lot of drama in our businesses, if we can add our goals, are we not? Is is everybody happy with us? Or are they not? Did our our content get a good review or not? Is our book going to do well or not? Like it's just it's a dramatic roller coaster. But it's easy to sometimes think that because something is dramatic. It's more worthy of your time and your attention. And unfortunately, I've seen sometimes people are hyper focused on that dramatic roller coaster of their business. First of all, I mean, ideally, get to a point where your business is not super dramatic, that where you're not super dramatic in the face of your business. But I've seen more often than not a great relationship or strong powerful friendships and hold business turmoil. But if if your relationships are not that strong and your business is going great. Usually, the lack of positive powerful relationships will infiltrate and take down the business, especially if you are stuck When in your business, who is like the generator of the ideas and the mover of the people, if you're having struggles in your personal relationships, you don't feel supported, seen, loved and valued at home. It's really hard to keep that energy up at work. It's hard to be an inspiration to your clients or customers. So let's see a lot of businesses.

Steve Haase  10:27  
Yeah. Let's say someone is feeling not seen, not appreciated at home. What can they do?

Erin Aquin  10:39  
I, you know, I'm a big fan. If for anyone who's read Revitalize Your Relationship was, which was the name of my book, it's still the name of our corporation. But for anyone who's read that book, you'll know that I'm a huge fan of over communicating. There are past podcasts on this very channel, wherever you're listening to this, about over communicating, because what I actually think most people do, is they assume that because they're talking to, or they're with a close friend, a partner, a family member, that because they know that person really well, they automatically assume that they know their motives, they know what they're thinking, they know what that eye roll means. And so often, you will make up the worst possible scenario in your head about what someone says, or what someone means, rather than just saying, Steve, you know, I don't really feel very seen, I tend to want to work all night because I feel like you don't want to hang out with me. And most people won't actually do the work to say that, because they'll be like, Oh, they're gonna think I'm crazy, or they're gonna think I'm overreacting, or they're gonna think I'm too sensitive, you have to get to a place where you are not trying to, I don't know how to say kind of save face. For the sake of not maybe potentially embarrassing yourself over saying what feels true for you. So I got into the habit because I was super private, I'm sure you will laugh. As I say this, I was kind of a closed book for for a while in our marriage, I wouldn't really tell you what I was thinking or feeling. And then things would get to a boiling point, I would get resentful or mad or something. And then kind of freak out. I don't know if you remember any of those times. So what I kind of had to learn to do was to narrate, I call it narrating your experience, basically where you say, so you came home later than you said, you were going to come home, I thought we were having dinner together. Now I feel a little bit upset, I feel a little bit confused, what's happening, what's going on. And then give the other person a chance to respond. So that both of you get closer to being on the same page about what was going on clearing up any miscommunications rather than one person thinking they know the whole story without ever talking about it. It's kind of an arrogant position we take especially with our partners, kids, family members, and shutting the whole thing down.

Steve Haase  13:28  
And I think the thing that helps somebody meet that, because the first step is absolutely being able to articulate what's happening in your mind, rather than carrying out all the actions that you would if that story were an entirely true. Sometimes there's delicacy around expressing those things. Because like when you said, You came home later than you said you would. Many people will hear that statement of fact, as an attack. Totally. Yeah. And if you feel like you're being attacked, you know, then you fight flight freeze. I guess there's a new one fun. Right? Where are you? Where are you? People, please? We're just trying to just be extra extra kind to

Erin Aquin  14:19  
accommodating? Yes, yeah. Right.

Steve Haase  14:21  
So if you do one of those things, then you still aren't building that bridge, you're not creating that container of communication. And so what really makes a difference here for creating healthy relationships is your own, like protection of your energy, your own sense of self worth, even in the face of an attack, right? I've got my air quotes up in the face of somebody saying, Hey, this is how I'm feeling because of this thing that you did. Rather than defending your position, which is where I tend to go either I'll either defend my position or all I'll, you know, just admit admit full full guilt rather than, like half the conversation. But in right in those cases where, where I'm just like, present with my own energy, my own place in the relationship, then there's there's room to establish conversation, there's room for that communication, because I can actually take in your experience, without many making it mean something negative about me, and then there doesn't have to be a blow up, it doesn't have to escalate, it can actually just be communication.

Erin Aquin  15:39  
Yeah, and I mean, this is such, it's such a fine art, this is not something that, you know, if you have a more combative relationship with someone in your life, you're probably not going to go and do this successfully, the first time, you might find that they feel the person you're talking to feels attacked, or you feel attacked, and you know, something may escalate. But what you're doing, even if that's the case, even if it's taken the wrong way, and it turns into a thing. The point is, you opened the lines of communication, you started to share something in a way that maybe you haven't before, you broke a habit of assuming that you knew what was going on, without confirming it with the other human with complex emotions, and a complex life and all things. And I think this is particularly important for entrepreneurs and leaders, because we're kind of used to everybody just going along with what we say, doing the things, you know, in my business, I'm the boss. So people are listening to me, people take my I wrote a book about relationships, so I must know something about relationships. But there has to also be a level of not wanting to be right. More than you want to be open and have a harmonious relationship with your, your partner. So I think that that is the other key for me is trying to stay open. And I incorporate this into my practice of over communication. By saying I could be wrong. Saying that a lot. I could be wrong here. Meaning it's not a tactical, it's not a manipulation tactic. It's saying, I'm open to having read this the wrong way. But this is how I'm feeling. And I want to let you in on how I'm feeling and why. So that you can either confirm, or correct me, or add some nuance to the conversation that I'm not able to see in my elevated heightened emotional state. It doesn't always mean it's gonna be rainbows and butterflies. This doesn't mean like, Oh, I'm so sorry, I actually texted you Did you check your phone, I did tell you I was gonna be home late, and we're all happy. Sometimes it's gonna still be a tense situation. But the point is that the lines of communication don't get shut down, because then you have two people having a relationship with their idea of who the other person is. And that, I think, is the reason a lot of relationships. And friendships don't work. It's because people aren't willing to say, what they're actually feeling what they're actually thinking to the other person, they just kind of let it erode. Do you want to do it's fine, but it's not? It's not great. If you want strong relationships?

Steve Haase  18:41  
Yeah. That's so powerful, Erin, the need to fully communicate and to express yourself, because why be in a relationship if you're not actually relating. And so I'm glad you take that as the main, the main thing for people to focus on one point that I kind of keep returning to, is the question of purpose. And coming back to why are we in this in the first place? Why are we choosing to do this crazy thing called be with each other for you know, an extended period of time and do all kinds of fun things together? And for me, that reason for the relationship in the first place is something that I continue to return to, and that gives me strength and re energizes what can sometimes become somewhat mundane, if you're not paying attention to why exactly you're even doing it.

Erin Aquin  19:42  
Yeah, I mean, if you don't have a bigger vision for your relationship, even those little moments are going to be they're going to be harder, you know, they're going to be harder to stay open in the face of you're going to say, No, I just want to be right here. And it's going to be harder to direct energy away from the roller coaster ride of the business highs and lows into the more maybe even keeled, quote unquote, mundane, day to day life experience that you're having with other people. I like to think about relationships now. I mean, when I was young, I craved the drama, all the drama. And now, you know, we're we've been married for a while, a couple, couple years, seven, eight ish. We've been married for a while. And the thing I love is the stability of knowing this person is in it with me. And we both have a shared vision for why we're here, we also have a lot of fun together, we, you know, we have a business together so we can enjoy the roller coaster if we need together. At the end of the day, I think that purpose is also really helpful to know.

Steve Haase  21:02  
Knowing that purpose is also what's going to help you have fun in the relationship. And with your business, right, if you're on the same page with how your life fits together, then there's room for the business, there's room for, you know, long trips, long days at work, and then room for play and rest and being together. You're not feeling pulled as much if you can actually communicate and have a vision that you agree on to some to some extent. Which brings me to the last thing that I want to touch on is humor. One thing last night, how long did we just sit there laughing for our son, Okay, everybody, he is sleeping in his own bed. For the first time. He's five. Sorry, but it's a big milestone, right? It's like our bedroom is back as our own for the first time in seven years. And we're just sitting there does laughing and having fun. And that's something that we often do, especially at night when all you know, when everything has quieted down from the day is just find something inane to laugh about. Why is that? So healing and joyful in a relationship?

Erin Aquin  22:22  
You know, I think it kind of brings me to the that the first thing that we talked about is like it, it blurs the line out of the like, professional version of me. And it reminds me that like we're human first. And humans, I this is totally my belief about it. But I do think that pleasure feels good for a reason. So that we'll do things that bring us more joy, more pleasure. And laughter, I think is one of the most pure forms of joy for me. The fact that through, I can kind of depend on you, Steve to crack me up about something. No matter how rough Our day has been. If we can laugh before we go to bed, it was not a bad day. And I think that so many people focus, spend too much time focusing on the milestones and the goals and all of the very dramatic, big things. And forget that. The little moments are what make life beautiful. And if we're just in our office locked away, all day, every day, we're not building bonds with people who matter. Outside of the kind of sometimes transactional nature of our businesses. We're missing out on this part of life and connection that is magic. And it's how it's how we got here. And I think it's a big part of our purpose for being here.

Steve Haase  24:16  
Really. So find a way to make somebody laugh today. And the thing that I always rely on because I'm like, I'm no Jerry Seinfeld, I'm though, you know, whoever you find the funniest person in the world, but like, there's something about you, whoever you are listening right now, that is absolutely hilarious. And that can just crack somebody up. So you know, lean on that because you've got that

Erin Aquin  24:43  
if you're not sure. The other kind of inroad, I think could be really opening up the conversation around purpose. Most my favorite relationships in my life are the ones where I know exactly Why I value that other person's time energy. Just the the beauty of like being together, my favorite friends, you know, we share a purpose and it's so fun to be able to talk about it. And it's, it's a beautiful, vulnerable, intimate thing to do to bring that up with someone and say, you know, I want a stronger relationship with you. This is where I really see us, in my mind. And I know that we could probably be more aligned with that more of the time and see where it goes.

Steve Haase  25:37  
That's so good. And I do just want to tie it into business for one last moment here. Because if you are with people in a business that has a purpose, then there is purpose in your relationship. Right? It's it's a, it's a business context, like we're here to get something done. But you're also alive, right? Remember, the, there's only life and business happens within that. And so if you are with people, and you're thinking, well, business is it and I'm gonna wait for later from my life, you are missing the boat. And so that's why you need a business that has purpose that has a vision that you are practicing, that you are stating that you are connecting with. Because then that is what makes the relationships within the business actually filled with purpose. Like there is reason for you to be with these other people. Six 810 however many hours a day, because you are going after something that matters.

Erin Aquin  26:34  
Yeah, and don't think that just because you're in a business, where that may be clear that vision that value, the value set the purpose. Sometimes people do think those relationships are easier because everybody knows the point. So if you feel like hey, actually, my business relationships are easy and great, but my personal ones, I have no idea what's going on. Go find out what your shared vision and values are with the people who you're closest to.

Steve Haase  27:00  
Brilliant. Thanks, Erin. Thanks for listening, everybody.

Erin Aquin  27:04  
Have a great week, everybody. Bye