Use Business Skills to Win in Your Relationship

Tennessee Entrepreneur Louis Upkins Jr. published the following tips in a Business Week article called Manage Your Marriage Like a Business to help successful businesspeople use their work skills to help their marriages. Specifically, he recommends consistent excellent customer service strategies rather than “working at” a great marriage.  

I think he offers excellent advice. He also reminds us that “a wide body of research suggests that the status of our marriages influences our well-being at least as much as the status of our finances.” He says he is amazed by the number of successful executives who on the surface seem to “have it all,” but who fully admit they are anything but happy. Here’s a summary of his ideas; link to his article for more details:

  1. Know your customer. Stay in tune with your spouse’s changing needs, hopes, and concerns. If you’re not sure what they are, ask.
  2. Earn their business every day. Just as you would impress clients with attention and treat them with respect, do the same for your partner.
  3. Don’t make excuses. Customers (and spouses) want solutions, not excuses. When you make a mistake, acknowledge your error, and then fix it.
  4. Work on a win-win strategy. Regularly ask your spouse, “What can I do to help you be successful?” Then follow through with what they need. Use your planning skills to balance the family’s needs, for example if one spouses is putting their career on hold to raise children.
  5. Mix business with pleasure. “We seldom give our spouses the rewarding experiences we give our best customers. Find ways to inject new life into your relationship via activities that have no purpose other than to say, ‘You matter.’”

Upkins reminds professionals that they strive for excellence on the job, and they shouldn’t settle for anything less of themselves at home. In fact, the skills acquired on the job can help you retain your most valuable customer, your spouse.

What other business skills do you think come in handy in your marriage? What necessary skill sets for marriage are very different from what you learn at work?

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2 responses to “Use Business Skills to Win in Your Relationship

  1. I have two reactions to the idea of running your marriage like a business. The first is that yes, if you apply the same skills, abilities and effort to your marriage as you do to your business it will certainly be helpful. The things you list are good examples.

    My second reaction is that no, a marriage should be nothing like a business. As Corey at Simple Marriage pointed out recently, and I wrote about on in a follow-up post on my blog ( if you are interested), successful business people are too often all about themselves. What Corey calls the missing ingredient is “selflessness.” I agree. Especially these days, it seems so many people are focused on their own agenda and career that consideration for others is lacking.

    What I like about what you said is seeing your spouse as a “customer” of sorts. In that context, putting the customer first is an important idea. That definitely puts a new spin on it.

  2. Scott, you make a good point that running a business is very different from building a relationship. However, I do believe that transferring some of these customer service skills can benefit the marriage. If all businesspeople treated their spouse as well as their best client, I think the happiness quotient in marriages would improve. I also agree with you that selflessness is an even more important criteria in a marriage than other skills. While businesspeople often succeed for selfish reasons, we succeed in marriage due to selfless considerations.

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