What does winning have to do with The American Dream?
The American Dream in the business world is about freedom and success, however you define it. The stereotypical version and the one many online “gurus”are selling is the do whatever you want and not have to work that hard but yet makes lots of money so you can do whatever you want.
The truth is this: this version of The American Dream isn’t right for everyone. Many people like to be in safe jobs doing what they do best by executing on someone else’s ultimate dream as they put first things first in their whole life. Clearly, we can’t all start businesses and make millions. Who would work for the entrepreneur if this was everyone’s dream?
Many people are chasing something they shouldn’t even be considering simply because it’s what so many are telling them they need to be happy. Some of the happiest most content people I know are simply using their God-given talent to produce solid results in jobs where they work for someone else.
Today’s typical dream for family life is to be married, have two children- ideally one boy and one girl- have a nice house with a nice yard with either a pool or access to a neighborhood pool and have enough money to go skiing or go on an annual family vacation. This, too, is not actually the best for who we are.
The big lie
The big lie is that we are in complete control of our lives. That we and only we get to choose how many kids we have and what we can buy. The truth: it is up to God, not us. The marital act has two primary components. When one of these is removed it can create a chasm rather than bring couples together.
The two necessary elements are these- unitive and procreative. Any sexual act that suppresses either unity or the potential for procreation distorts sex into a selfish endeavor that ultimately cannot lead to authentic joy. I didn’t always know nor practice this. But now I do and I completely get it.
Remember from a previous blog post, the best opposite of love is not hate or indifference. It’s use. And when we stifle the natural purpose for our sexual faculties and make it mostly about our pleasure we do injustice to the act and foster the use of the other for our own selfish indulgence.
Marriages can–and should, be saved
I think virtually all marriages, aside from those that are abusive, can be saved. I was listening to a podcast recently and the guy used the term 51% to describe anything worth salvaging. If your marriage is at or above a 51% rating it’s worth continuing. Because the chances are you will end it and start another one that would likely be around the same rating or lower. The grass is always greener on the other side.
To me, if the marriage is valid- meaning done by God in a church vs. by the justice of the peace or just civilly- then there is grace involved to make it work. And this coming from someone whose parents divorced when I was very young.
If the marriage is struggling, outside help could intervene and provide some assistance. But often it’s a matter of selfishness. “I deserve better.” “She doesn’t love me like she used to.” If we are honest with ourselves we should be able to remember all the things we have done that weren’t so great. The stresses we put our spouses through. The things we’ve said that we shouldn’t have said. In the end, we don’t deserve to have everything exactly the way we want it.
Getting what we want isn’t all it’s cracked up to be
There is no opportunity to build virtue if we always get what we want. The challenges we face in marriage are meant to make us stronger. After all, one of the main reasons for marriage is for the spouses to help each other. We are meant to be happy, but happiness does not mean we are immune to carrying a few crosses along the way.
Overall, as far as the marriage is concerned, I believe it is more important than any business. If you have to choose between saving your marriage and saving your business, I would always cheer for the marriage. However, I do believe you can save both. But one has to take precedence.
Been there before
Kate and I have lived in very crappy places making zero money before. So we know if we had to we could go back to that. Not everyone started out or had any phase like this. Some people have grand ideas of never having to struggle, but when you are married to an entrepreneur it’s a matter of timing as to whether you might go through a tough period or multiple tough periods.
This is why it is so important to prioritize and never let your spousal relationship take a back seat. This is the most forever relationship we have. Businesses grow and die or grow and get sold. Marriages do not. Or at least, they aren’t supposed to.
Who is Doug? Doug Kisgen is an author, entrepreneur and personality expert. His primary work? Raising his five kids with his wife of 20+ years in the hill country of Texas.
For ways to put these ideas into practice, check out Doug’s book, Rethink Happy: An Entrepreneur’s Journey Toward Authentic Joy, available now as an e-book or in paperback!