Are you and your spouse keeping financial secrets?

It's happening everywhere. Stress levels are on the rise. What we know is that during times of pressure and stress, men isolate and women connect. Many men, during these stressful times, are isolating. They are putting on a brave face, even as their work worlds crumble around them. In some of the saddest cases we've seen, the distress and fear of failure, layoffs and social isolation have led to heart attacks, strokes and even suicides. Literally, the financial crisis is breaking hearts, according to

If you're like me, working in a family business, side-by-side with your spouse, it's a great time to make sure you're on the same page. On the same POSITIVE page. Have a survival plan, and take action. Together. Today's New York Times' article Resilient in Hard Times: Family Business focuses on the positive power of fighting the recession as a family team. It's not easy, but it's certainly better than having to go it alone. As the article points out, of the nation's seven million businesses employing 100 or fewer workers, 20 percent are owned and operated by more than one family member. Go team, go family!

If you don't work with your spouse in a family business, do you actually know how much stress your partner is under? Do you share the realities of your household finances? If you're a person who let's your partner "handle" all the finances, isn't it time to get involved? Educating yourself isn't just smart, it's necessary to be a team. It may not be easy, and it may not be pretty right now, but in the long run, knowing the realities of your finances is empowering.

Use the harsh realities of these financial times to grow closer and deepen your connection. Sharing your finances and creating a plan together will go a long way to helping you both feel more positive and less overwhelmed. And, healthier.

Spouse and Business Partner: Making it Work

This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. At Real Living, my husband is the CEO, and I’m the president. Being a husband-and-wife team has its ups and downs, but for the most part, it’s a great opportunity. You’re sharing your business success with the same person you plan to spend the rest of your life with.

But the road can be bumpy if you don’t take the time to define your individual roles. Determine from the get-go who has the final say on decisions and who’s responsible for various functions in the company. That’s a must.

Then there’s the issue of financial and emotional risk. When you’re both involved, that obviously increases. But there’s an awesome tradeoff that you simply can’t ignore: When everything is running smoothly, it’s doubly rewarding—and you’ll be able to enjoy that together.

Do you have any great success stories about working with your spouse? We’d love to hear them! For more tips on working with a spouse or business partner check out Life Lesson Five in Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs.

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