Your Best Advice Might Come from a Marriage Counselor

Working on your closest relationships first could pave the way for better ties with others. As some of you know, my wife Nina and I worked together for 29 years. Over that time we worked with many different consultants and counselors. The one that made it possible for us to listen to and work with those consultants was a marriage counselor.

Whether you work with a spouse, a relative, or a partner, I think that improving your relationship is the most important thing to do if you want your business to be successful.

Getting on the same page as people was harder than working together on remodeling our business. What did we have to learn?


Most of the time, when two people are talking they are not listening to one another. How can that be? Each of the parties is more interested in what they have to tell the other, not what the other person is telling them. To some degree that seems to be human nature.

Listen more and talk less. After all, we each have two ears and only one mouth. Reflect back to your partner what you hear them saying. When you first start doing this you will be surprised by how far off you are. Keep trying.

Don’t judge. Just take it all in.

Getting beyond this obstacle is hard. However, what comes next is impossible to do without becoming a better listener.


“Seek first to understand, then to be understood” is what Stephen Covey wrote in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Why did he think that?

Because without listening and without understanding, you and your partner, etc., are stuck. You don’t understand each other. In fact, you likely think the other person is from another planet. What they are saying just doesn’t make sense.

Understanding the point of view of someone else does not mean you agree with them. It does mean that you seriously consider their idea(s) and ask meaningful—not demeaning—questions to help the other person see that you want to understand them.

Letting Go

This is the hardest part. Letting go of your idea/opinion is when synergy can take place.

Often, the best idea is not yours or your partners. It is the product of meaningful dialogue between the two of you, where lots of questions are asked and ideas are re-examined.

If one of you remains stuck thinking that only your idea is best, no change and no progress will take place. You are interacting like a petulant child, not an adult working with a partner to make a business successful.

Building Your Bond

Relationships take work to make them work. This is true for all relationships, but close intimate ones take the most work. Why?

You are together a lot of the time. You are likely different than one another. The way you each look at the world is very different.

The bond between grows stronger when you celebrate the differences. Two perspectives that are not the same provide for a more realistic world view and better ideas. If you are working with someone exactly like you the business will likely not be as successful as it could be.

Let’s imagine you and your partner do as I suggest. You engage the help of a counselor to get on the same page as business people need to be.

Only then think about working with a business consultant to improve your business.

I know this works because Nina and I worked together on our relationship as people and partners first, then moved on to working on our business. The result was a business that generated good income and provided us with a lot of time away from the business.

What do you and your partner want from your life together?

Paul Winans sold the 30-year-old remodeling business he owned with his wife, Nina, and is now a consultant and facilitator for Remodelers Advantage on owner issues, business management, and best practices.