Dear dreamers, stop doing this.

(This is a guest post from @JennyAcuff! Follow her on Twitter for more awesomeness.)

Jon recently tweeted that I was thrilled he was getting a virtual assistant with a company called eaHELP.

That was an understatement. I am beyond thrilled. I am whatever is next on the happy scale. “Mega thrilled?” Hard to say.

Why am I so happy? Well this weird thing can happen when you are married to a dreamer. There’s a temptation for you to change from supportive spouse to support system. Take Jon for instance, once his job changed, he thought it might be good for me to help him with his calendar. Of the two of us, I am more detailed, but that was a terrible idea.

I want to be his wife, not his assistant. Me trying to manage his calendar and emails was an amazing opportunity to argue.

Do I support the dream we’re both working on? Definitely, in a thousand different ways. But I know that I want to be his partner in these adventures, not his technical support or administrative assistant. The more steps I take in that direction the more I get separated from the heart of the dream and become a stage hand for a play I am no longer in.

Does this type of support system work for some couples? I think it can, if the spouse comes to the table with a skill set that fits this exact need. But I think it’s rare and you have to honestly ask your spouse if it is working for them or do they feel like they are on the outside of the dream.

There’s a big difference between spouse and assistant.

Be careful about asking your spouse to play the wrong role dreamers.

 

30 Comments
  • David Mike
    Posted at 05:03h, 17 February Reply

    I often call my wife my “social coordinator”. It’s because I can’t seem to retain upcoming events and dates. I currently do not need a VA, I probably just need to be more intentional about putting the dates in my calendar. Oh how technology fails us when we don’t use it!

  • Nick
    Posted at 05:04h, 17 February Reply

    So true. As the one in Jon’s position in our relationship it’s also great to know my wife is supportive, but my wife, and not involved to that level of detail.

    Sure, she’d help in a bind or if there were something needed that matched something she were uniquely qualified to do. But it’s nice for me , too, for her to be my wife and not my wife/assistant, or whatever.

    Glad Jon hired an assistant. I’ll be doing that soon. For now, I’ve been handling all of the details, etc. It’s a lot to keep up with.

    • David Mike
      Posted at 05:59h, 17 February Reply

      I wish I could hire somebody to work for me so I could write!

      • Nick
        Posted at 09:02h, 17 February Reply

        Ha! I hear ya. That’s what the hustle’s for. Soon enough. πŸ™‚

      • Grace
        Posted at 12:24h, 17 February Reply

        That’s a funny idea!

  • Tyler
    Posted at 07:41h, 17 February Reply

    My wife is currently my editor. Pretty much anything I write, she reads before the rest of the world sees it. I just don’t trust myself with my writing yet. I only post 1x-2x per week so its enjoyable for her now, but eventually I’m sure that might could get old. Thankfully she is both honest and supportive, I’m blessed!

  • David Johnston
    Posted at 07:52h, 17 February Reply

    My calendar would be SO much more organized if my wife was in charge of it!

  • Eileen
    Posted at 07:58h, 17 February Reply

    Yay! Congrats to you and Jenny!

  • Jody Noland
    Posted at 08:01h, 17 February Reply

    Preach it, sister! You are a wise woman to realize this so quickly. For years, in an effort to be a “supportive wive,” I helped my husband with tasks in his business that completely drained the life out of me. So glad others can benefit from your wisdom and experience.

  • Wendy
    Posted at 08:27h, 17 February Reply

    Yes!!!! This!!! ::: jumping up and down ::::

  • Charis
    Posted at 08:35h, 17 February Reply

    Great post, and wise words. Unfortunately, I have seen this problem play out negatively. It’s not worth it to put such a strain on a marriage, especially when things like virtual assistants are available. It really does make the other person feel like they are outside of the dream or calling, versus a part of it.

  • Judi Fox
    Posted at 09:05h, 17 February Reply

    Great post Jenny! It is so important to be self-aware like you are in this situation. I love it when my husband proof reads and gives me feedback, but I also realize he can’t be the main person I go to for this type of work ALL the time.

    My husband also has a dream and it involves me in a very large way with sacrifice and changes. I want to fully support his dream, but that support can look different for every couple. I just realized that his dreams, my dreams, and our marriage will be more successful if we meet each other’s needs and allow the person to express what part they want to play in our dream. XO

  • LarryY
    Posted at 09:30h, 17 February Reply

    Jenny, a great post that should cause some deep thinking and some meaningful conversations.

    I do think this post contains a few slippery slopes for the “dreamer” and the “spouse of the dreamer” that both spouses need to continual awareness and addressing.

    Your post suggests some slippery slopes that both spouse must continually address – ownership of the dream, communication, intentionality, definition of roles, and the list can go on and on and on.

    It is easy to say that the dreamer is the owner of the dream. The supportive spouse also has ownership stakes in the dream but from a different perspective(s).

    Open, honest, caring communication is key for the spouses, family, extended family and the dream to thrive. The difficult task is how to address the “negative vibes” before resentment, envy, jealously and other ill spirits to get a significant toe hold.

    I think Jenny addresses the personal assistant concept quite well, however, the supportive spouse can’t avoid certain aspects of the personal assistant especially when the dream can’t be neatly separated from “the family” or “spousal” life happenings. The supportive spouse can’t be 100% cheerleader either. The supportive spouse needs to provide honest, tactful, feedback on the dream, the family, etc. The dreamer does not need a “YES” man.

    The dreamer needs to be aware of the commitment of the dream and the possible impact of the dream on immediate family and inner circle relationships. The dreamer needs to be aware of his/her strengths and weaknesses.

    I believe both spouses need to be aware Zig’s wheel of life. Be intentional in every aspect of life.

    Now I wish I had the skill sets of Jon and Jenny on how to write thoughts that have great meaning and impact.

    • Jessica
      Posted at 09:55h, 17 February Reply

      You said “I wish I had the skill sets of Jon and Jenny on how to write thoughts that have great meaning and impact.”

      But you already do!! Your reply was very well-thought-out and expressed. You provided further details that to me, the one in Jon’s position in the family, help me understand where I need to look at how I’m coming across.

      I want my husband and family to be able to celebrate with me and want to encourage me. However, I do need to work on communication and not allowing my dream to negatively affect my family when I hit a slump.

      I noticed too because I’m the one who says, “Oh, I wish I could write like that person,” and my husband told me to stop comparing myself and just write because I was comparing myself to people who had been writing for years. Maybe you weren’t doing that, but I did want to encourage you! Keep writing; it’s having impact!

  • Kimanzi
    Posted at 10:51h, 17 February Reply

    Fabulous post Jenny and congrats on the VA Jon! I can’t even get my wife to read my blog post anymore πŸ™‚ We would NOT work together well.

  • Vicki
    Posted at 11:17h, 17 February Reply

    Men. *sigh…* Not to start male-bashing but…. I’m single, and I’ve dated a few men who were/are small biz owners/entrepreneurs. They always seem to want to find a woman who will function as an executive assistant/bookkeeper in their business – without regard to whether or not the woman has any talent, skill or interest in this kind of work. I usually just roll my eyes, and I don’t really say anything, but I’m always thinking “dude, I already have a job – one I actually like! fat chance I’d ever quit to balance your stupid books (and my degree is in the humanities, not in accounting, btw)…” One guy had actually been through a pretty serious situation with the IRS after his (ex)wife failed to do his bookkeeping properly. You’d think he would learn from that experience and actually hire a real accountant! Good grief…

  • Grace
    Posted at 12:34h, 17 February Reply

    This is such a great post — and Jenny, your voice is coming through LOUD and CLEAR! Completely separate from Jon. I can see years of quiet observation and information collecting all coming together in your thoughtful messages…please keep it coming!

    You guys have a great story to tell — each separately AND together. (But Jon — why do you post immediately following Jenny? I’ve noticed this twice now!)

    πŸ˜‰

  • Matt Ham
    Posted at 12:49h, 17 February Reply

    I’m not sure it’s on purpose, but I’m grateful that my wife has been my greatest critic. She’s always keeping me in check with what I’m after and constantly helping me test my motives. And she manages to do it without attacking. However, I’ve noticed that she’s waking up a little earlier now to journal and read, so I’m very encouraged by this unspoken teamwork we have going on. It’s an intricate dance that sometimes looks like the Waltz and sometimes comes of more like the Harlem Shake. Either way, we’re dancing.

  • Charity Craig
    Posted at 12:52h, 17 February Reply

    Oh, Jenny! You nailed it on the head. I definitely have the strengths of an assistant, but when it comes to playing the double role for my husband, yeah, we more or less want to punch each other out.

  • Kirsten OQuinn
    Posted at 13:37h, 17 February Reply

    I think that we are all very excited over here at eaHELP πŸ™‚

  • Jean
    Posted at 13:37h, 17 February Reply

    Hmmm…why is it always the men who are the entrepreneurs and the women who are being asked to be assistants (whether or not they have their own work)? It seems like men are always the boss and women are “working for” their husbands, usually for free. I see this a lot, and it drives me crazy! I am the entrepreneur in my family, not my husband, and I do NOT expect him to work for me, especially not for free.

  • Iryssa
    Posted at 13:47h, 17 February Reply

    My husband very wisely nixed the idea I had of getting him to do my books (he was a bookkeeper before he went into IT) when I first started my business. I was actually offended at first, thinking he didn’t want to support me (I know, so whiny…I have no valid excuse). But you’re right: We’re husband and wife, not employer and employee. It would have been just so much unnecessary stress.

  • Mary Kathryn Johnson
    Posted at 14:26h, 17 February Reply

    Wise Words from a Wise Wife!

  • Heather Sunseri
    Posted at 15:46h, 17 February Reply

    Such wise words. My husband creates my book covers for me after I dream up what I want them to look like. He is an expert at Photoshop, but he is not a cover designer, and I know he does not enjoy me standing over him directing him to “Tweak this. Tweak that.” He enjoys tracking book sales and watching “our” dream take shape, but he also dreams of the day I hire my own cover designer.

  • MaryEllen
    Posted at 16:51h, 17 February Reply

    Happiest day of my life when we finally hired an assistant for both of us! I don’t think that my husband even realized how much he was expecting me to do. It created a lot of friction for us because I am more of a strategic person and while I can get into the detail, it isn’t a place I am happy for any amount of time.

  • Leanne Penny
    Posted at 17:27h, 17 February Reply

    My husband and I absolutely played this role for a while and it SUNK us. I was his assistant and we took our kids to the office, it was like work never ended and I was dodging my boss at home. No Bueno.

  • Lisa Haley
    Posted at 08:39h, 18 February Reply

    Wow, this one it home. I have an Etsy shop and my husband, who totally supports my endeavors, has become my reluctant photographer, which I think he would rather not do. Time for me to come up with a different plan. Thank you for this timely message.

  • Scott
    Posted at 14:11h, 18 February Reply

    This is really interesting info Jenny! My wife was planning to help me market my business and I am planning to help her administratively run her future preschool. Now I’m wondering if either of those are good ideas. What exactly do you have your virtual assistant do? By the way, my wife is my better half too! (I’m sure Jon would agree right?)

  • Erica M
    Posted at 08:49h, 19 February Reply

    Oh, I know this feeling well. My husband ran his own painting business for a while and wanted me to be an additional painter.

    He forgot his wife was acrophobic. Needless to say, it didn’t last very long. I was more than happy to cheer him on from the side lines, though. It’s not on a ladder. πŸ˜‰

  • Leslie
    Posted at 11:39h, 19 March Reply

    Thank you for sharing these things Jenny, I hope that you keep doing it. I wish I had had this in my marriage, we are now divorced. He is definitely a dreamer (one thing that I always loved about him), but I always felt like a failure because I was trying to be his support system, help with everything (I realize this now). I wanted to be a supportive wife, but we never could seem to find a good balance between supportive spouse vs. system. It is impossible to be someone’s support system and also live your own dreams and responsibilities, but it is possible to be a supportive spouse and support each other. Of course many other things played a role in the end of our marriage, but I feel like this was a very large part. Many women/spouses of dreamers will greatly benefit from your book, I’m more that sure!

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