I probably spend a collective 90% of my time and energy on either my business or my marriage, but until this past year I spent 0% of my time thinking about the relationship between my business and my marriage. It wasn’t until some tension crept that I realized the importance of this relationship. Although I’ve been with my husband, Luke, for seven years and have been an entrepreneur for nearly all that time, I am (and we are) still in the baby stages of figuring it out! Here are a few things Luke and I have learned as this has become a big theme in our lives:

It’s more than okay to be separate, as long as you’re supportive.

There are a lot of husband-and-wife teams in my industry (wedding photography) and I get asked often why Luke doesn’t shoot with me regularly. While the short answer is “it’s not his career, it’s mine,” I still feel a little weird from time to time that our respective careers are so separate from the other. For the first three years of my photography business, Luke was working on his own career as well as going to grad school full time. Since graduating, he’s been able to help me with a few more things (like being my chauffeur on a wedding day, especially if I’m shooting in the French Quarter!) but his main focus is still his own career in addictions counseling.

Because of the nature of his job, I’m also not hugely involved with his career (#hipaalaws!). I’ve only visited his office three times in three years! However, I love that we both bring totally different things to the table and we never have to worry about work being the only thing we talk about. He cares about my business; he just happens to care about me quite a bit more!

Keep the main thing the main thing

Since Luke isn’t involved in the ins and outs of my businesses, he’s a huge reality check. When he gets home and I rail about my day, he’s sympathetic while still putting it into perspective. Because I’m forced to explain situations to him from the ground up, I’m able to process with loads of clarity. (It does not hurt that my husband has a graduate degree in psychology. Single ladies, take note.) He is not ambitious in the same way I am. Sometimes it can be hard to help him understand why I feel the way I do about work, and I get frustrated easily (I’m working on it). Sometimes during these discussions I’d love to throw my hand to my forehead, yell “You just don’t understand!”, and run up to my room without dinner. But my room is also my husband’s room. So we keep working through it.

Luke doesn’t have to totally understand me to support me, just like I don’t totally understand any human being I have ever met. Ha! At the end of the day, having a husband who spends most of his time thinking about our life together, his friends, and going on a bike ride vs. how to take over the world with a small business, reminds me that the main thing is the main thing. If my business tanks tomorrow, I still have a lot going for me. Knowing that I’m coming home to something good and to a husband who sees me as much more than a businesswoman allows me to take greater risks at work.

Like my relationships, I want to invest in my business and hustle hard while still keeping my hands open for whatever could come next.

Get flexible and then get more flexible

I’ve learned that life is too short for just one dream. Going from just being a wedding photographer to being a wedding photographer who is also opening a bed and breakfast has taught me that! Luke and I are still learning how to change together, just as I’m still learning how to change, period. The scariest and greatest thing about marriage is that you are constantly changing and so is your partner.

What I want for my business changes every year, as does Luke’s involvement with it as we change as individuals. I’ve had too much pride in the past to even ask for help with him driving me—but I did ask. He also gets to hear all about the weddings right after they happen, and it’s a huge stress reliever for me. Recently, I photographed a wedding out of town and brought Luke as my assistant, something I never would have done a year ago, and it was a blast. Being an entrepreneur and a wife means I have two great loves, and I’m thankful to have a husband who not only understands that, but also appreciates it.

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Sarah Becker Lillard lives in New Orleans and runs two businesses. The first, Sarah Becker Photography, was established in 2012 and specializes in photographing historic home weddings across the south. Recently, she partnered with two businessmen to purchase a home abandoned since Hurricane Katrina and is currently renovating it into a bed and breakfast that will be open at the end of the year. Her husband, Luke Lillard, is an addictions counselor as well as a musician, songwriter, and avid bike rider. When they aren’t at work, they can be found exploring New Orleans and hanging out with their two dachshunds.

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