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Marriage and Business Boundaries
There are many different couples. Some never achieve their potential because they cannot overcome the friction associated with placing comfortable boundaries between marriage and business.
Aquila and Priscilla
Aquila and Priscilla were business partners spoken of in the New Testament. The Bible tells us they were in the tentmaking business and they were in ministry together. Most couples idolize the strategy they used. We understand it as a couple who does everything together, and we attempt to do it to the best of our understanding. This strategy doesn’t work for everyone, and the couple may wind up feeling some contention until they find the strategy that works best for them. Some will do business together as they did; some will find more comfort doing business with different boundaries (even for a season).
I grew up watching my parents and grandparents use the “Aquila and Priscilla” strategy. My grandparents had a family business and my parents had a family business. I watched my parents and my grandparents work together in business.
My original concept of marriage meant two people that do everything together. The original concept of marriage has had to adjust to raise children, grow a business, and manage a household to the standards that we wanted for our family. The “Aquila and Priscilla” strategy became uncomfortable for our situation, so now what? We had to study other strategies, and transition to what best suited our family.
You may be struggling with comfortable marriage and business boundaries in your marriage. Here are a few strategies to consider…
Strategy#1: The Abraham and Sarah
Abraham and Sarah were a very wealthy couple. God prospered Abraham even though he left to go to a foreign land. Abraham was in the livestock business. He was overall very self-sufficient, but he managed herdsmen who tended livestock to support his family. Genesis 13:8 says:
So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife and disagreement between you and me, nor between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, because we are relatives. Is not the entire land before you? Please separate [yourself] from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or if you choose the right, then I will go to the left.”
The Bible never makes mention of Sarah interacting with the family business by tending the herd. Instead, she played a supportive role. Abraham had servants that aided him in his business. Sarah focused on her business–keeping the home orderly. She had servants like Hagar that helped her keep the house in order.
According to the Abraham and Sarah strategy, they each would focus on separate jurisdictions. He focused on managing the livestock business. She focused on managing the domestic business.
Strategy #2: Lappidoth and Deborah
In the case of Lappidoth and Deborah, the Bible does not mention them doing professional work together. The only scripture that mentions him says, “Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.” No notes are made about Lappidoth’s profession. We know Deborah’s business was in consulting. Judges 4:5 says, “She used to sit [to hear and decide disputes] under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the Israelites came up to her for judgment.” She was a prestigious judge, helping people navigate difficult circumstances the godly way. She provided sound counsel even to the point that Barak, the commander of Israel’s army would not go to war without her. We can assume her husband–along with the people of Israel–did not interfere with her role providing consultation to the people of Israel, and he allowed her to use her leadership skills, mandating changes that would affect generations.
The Lappidoth and Deborah strategy shows the woman in a leadership role in business, but without reference to the male’s profession. Women having greater earning power or professional prestige can be a huge battle in some homes. In this example, we can see a woman who may have the majority prestige or earnings in the home. With this example, the women should not stunt their potential professionally to highlight their spouse. There can be a comfortable balance where the woman is fulfilling her God-given assignment in leadership, and the man can too. Husband and wife should be team mates; not competitors.
The Proverbs 31 Woman and her Husband
The Proverbs 31 woman is not decoded in the Bible, but many scholars guess about who she may have been. We know her husband was a prestigious man, “known at the city gates.” She encouraged his success, but we do not know much about his profession. For her, she had her own profession. She had multiple business operations taking place. She woke up before sunrise to make food for her household, she delegated tasks so her maids could maintain order in the home, she was an investor in land, she made and distributed clothing, she used her profits to expand a vineyard, and her husband gained because he married her.
According to this example, it is okay to have two married individuals who both have professional aspirations. She owned a business, and he also was prestigious. She made sure the home was in order by assigning tasks to her maids, and she tended to her family well.
Creating Comfortable Boundaries Can Cause Contention
With Abraham and Sarah, Lappidoth and Deborah, and the Proverbs 31 woman and her husband, we see boundaries between their professions and their marriages; however we do not see how they created them. The process of creating business boundaries in marriage can create contention without good communication between both partners.
You may try Abraham and Sarah’s strategy, and find that it doesn’t work for you and your spouse. You may try Priscilla and Aquila’s strategy, and find that doesn’t work for you. You have to find a comfortable fit for you and your spouse–one that aids in fulfilling both of your life purposes.
- Analyze your goals, dreams, and purpose
- Communicate to your spouse your goals and create boundaries that can benefit those goals
- Analyze your strategy, and ask yourself, “Am I choosing the strategy that enables me to best fulfill my God-given purpose?”
- Pray for healthy boundaries between God’s purpose for you and your roles on Earth
Post in the comments: Are you or your spouse a business owner? Are you both business owners? How did you create your boundaries?
“BibleGateway.” BibleGateway.com: A Searchable Online Bible in over 150 Versions and 50 Languages., www.biblegateway.com.
Cloud, Henry, and John Sims Townsend. Boundaries When to Say Yes, When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life. Zondervan Pub. House, 1999.
Steinberg, Joseph. “How To Run A Business With Your Spouse — And Remain Happily Married.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 2015, www.forbes.com/sites/josephsteinberg/2015/02/13/how-to-run-a-business-with-your-spouse-and-remain-happily-married/#55ef03a31770.
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