I Feel Hurt That My 50-Year-Old Wife is Starting a Business

There’s a new trend in the world of business start-ups, and it has to do with middle-aged women opening their own businesses.

It’s no surprise, really. Older women have so much to offer, and they’re finally going after what they want. The men who love them, however, are suffering. They’re stunned. They’re feeling lost and left behind, saying to themselves, “My wife is starting a business. Why?”

This can be hard for a husband or life partner to digest. He’s been planning to retire with his wife for years, and now that they’re a decade or two from the finish line, she wants to start all over again.

I understand that this can be hard to come to terms with, and so I think we should start by listing the reasons why older women want to start businesses…and why they’re actually perfect candidates for success.

Here’s Why Your Wife Might Be Starting a Business Now

When I think about all the qualities that new entrepreneurs should have, it’s hard to overlook the qualifications of older women.

Here are a few:

  • Availability of Capital: Middle-aged women typically have more access to capital than younger women. This is the time in their lives when inheritances are being dispersed, when they can more easily borrow against retirement savings, when they have money saved and they’ve built great credit.
  • Notable Courage: Many of the most courageous people I know are women over 50. There’s a certain tenacity that develops after you’ve been in the workforce for decades, raised a family, learned to ask for what you really want, and to say no.
  • Empty Nest: The skills we develop as mothers are highly translatable to the field of business. There’s diplomacy, discipline, organisational skills, multi-tasking and so much more. And now that the kids have flown the nest, those skills need a place to be expressed!
  • Lifelong Dreams: Every woman has a dream, and many have put theirs on the back burner in order to tend to their families or to nail down a steady income without risk. The beginning of the second half of a woman’s life is when she starts to think about all the sacrifices she’s made and wonder “what if?”
  • Retirement Pastime: When a woman fills her life with career, family, marriage…she can feel overwhelmed and think she wants a break. And then she gets the break and guess what? She’s bored. It’s hard to spend your life in high gear and then go to virtually nothing. That can scare the life out of a female retiree.
  • Retirement Income: People are living longer and with better health, and that means they’re outlasting their retirement savings. This leads women to start thinking about ways to maintain a flow of income, on their terms, after the typical retirement age.
  • Workplace Wisdom: A woman of 50 years has decades of workplace experience under her belt, and if she has climbed the corporate ladder, she’s experienced what it’s like to be a newbie and a boss. There’s no better panoramic view for owning her own business.
  • Thick Skin: Today’s 50-year-old woman has lived and worked in a male-dominated world. She’s learnt how to handle herself in tough situations and how to manage discrimination. She’s unlikely to be deterred by age or gender bias.
It can be helpful for the men who love these women to understand the Why.
But that’s the easy part.
The more difficult facet is the How.

Why This Might Be a Problem for Men

Most middle-aged men I’ve talked to have been looking forward to an empty nest or retirement for years. They have dreams of sailing the world with their wife…or just catching up on some gardening. They’re looking forward to an open schedule, much less stress and a life of leisure, and finally enjoying the attention he used to receive before children.

And then the wife says she’s starting a business.

Did he hear her right?

Why now?

And why does this news hurt so much?

At this point in a man’s life, his testosterone levels are beginning to plummet. He’s less competitive. He’s less physical. He might even start to think about art, horticulture, reading…stuff his younger self had little or no interest in. And along with this comes a reluctance to take risks (and bewilderment at why his wife suddenly wants to take them).

It also sounds a lot like a role shift. If this man is part of a traditional household, or one where he is the primary bread-winner, the change has the potential to deliver a blow to his ego. He has built his identity around being a provider, and a man his age isn’t willing to embrace change.

And then he realises something: He loves this woman. He wants her to be happy, because when she’s happy, so is he.

But how can he adjust to this? How can he accept it without feeling like his whole retirement is at stake?

Here are a few pieces of advice:

  • Be Her Biggest Supporter: You might be ready to wind down your career, and you can still do that. Think of yourself as your wife’s most enthusiastic cheerleader. Make sure she knows that no one wants her to succeed more than you. Not only will she appreciate the support, you’re more likely to feel invested in the business and excited by its success.
  • Listen: When she encounters problems with her business, you might want to swoop in and attempt to solve those problems. Don’t do that…unless she wants you to. Instead, listen to her when she’s had a bad day. Put your arm around her and ask how you can help. This is not the time to take charge.
  • Be Honest, but not Harsh: You and your wife have been through enough that you can be honest with each other by now. She doesn’t want you to lie to her when she bounces ideas off you. What she does want to hear is A) what you think or B) that you don’t know the answer. She does not need negative statements or buzz-killing criticism. She needs authentic opinions and undying support.
  • Patience: Just because your wife is the perfect person to start a business doesn’t mean that there won’t be problems and setbacks. Give her time and space. Allow her to succeed.
  • Communicate How You Feel: She may not know that spending all her time on her dream business is proving confronting, frustrating or confusing for you. She may not realise that you feel she’s ignoring you. As good as women are at reading people, she really needs to know how you feel, what your dreams are and what you expect from your future together.
  • Have an Open Mind: Just because you think this isn’t going to be fun doesn’t mean it won’t. You might be surprised at the new ways in which you can bond with your wife, and the interesting people and situations this new venture will bring into your lives.
  • Chase Your Own Dream: This is your time too! Why should she have all the fun? Every man has a dream, and this can be your time to get busy making it happen.
So your wife is starting a business.

I know, it has come as a shock, and it can be hard to process.

You can want what she wants just because you love her, but it doesn’t even have to be that much of a sacrifice. You can view this as a new adventure that you’re embarking on together. Maybe this time, she’s at the helm. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the journey.

Even if you consider all the reasons that a 50-year-old woman starting a business is a good idea, there will still be a need for guidance. That’s why I offer individual coaching and live events like the Femme-trepreneur Course through the Secret Women’s Business Academy. No matter what her specific requirements are, we have all the support she’ll need to start that business and make it succeed!

So go ahead, point her to one of the above links or to my website. That will be the perfect start to becoming her number-one fan.

Have an opinion, advice or comment? Please share it with me below…

Have a beautiful day, beautiful you.