The husband or wife you choose is the most important business partner you will ever have — and the family you create together is the most important business organization of your life.
We have been taught by our culture to see marriage as little more than two people magically brought together by fate and chance. Our movies teach us this. Our fairy tales teach us this, too. But those stories almost always end when the two people ultimately come together. We’re told they “lived happily ever after,” but we never see what that looks like.
Romantic love is very important to me. I’ve written multiple times about the ways in which the heart knows what it wants — often for reasons which aren’t clear to the rational mind. But if you choose to follow romantic love alone — and follow the model of family which culture is teaching us today — you will be throwing away your most valuable material asset.
And if you choose that path, you’re setting yourself up for a miserable family.
For most of human existence, every person’s well-being centered around his or her family. The family was a unit that worked together in ways that were cooperative and complementary. The fortunes of the family were tied together. If it was a farming family, the duties of the “family business” were split among the members.
For people in most of human history, the early 20th century notion of a man going off to “earn a living” and a woman staying home to raise children and clean the house would have seemed bizarre. For most of human history, a couple and their children were all heavily involved in the difficult work of making a living and simply surviving. The idea that the husband was “making money” and the wife was “not working” would have been incomprehensible to them.
Everybody worked. They had to work together in order to survive and thrive.
Starting with the Industrial Age, it became a norm — for more and more people — for a man to go off to a factory or office and to be paid in money for his work. In that era, much of the talents of women were ignored and unappreciated.
But in the modern era — over the last 60 years or so — a new model has emerged. Instead of going back to the notion of the family as a “business unit,” the opposite occurred. In the Industrial Era, men had been sent off into the world alone, essentially cut off from their wives and children in many respects — and the new era made it worse.
In the period which started shortly after World War II — and which accelerated in the 1960s — women started to act just like men. Instead of returning to centering the lives of everybody around home and family, women started going away from their homes and families in the same way that men had been doing for more than a century.
In this way, the social damage which was done by splitting families’ focus — by having the man centered outside the home — was merely compounded. Now both men and women found their focus outside the home — and the home became an exhausting place of trying to somehow make a “living space” functional when nobody was there to do so for much of the time.
The home had been a functioning unit — both in the business and emotional sense — when men and women were both focused there. The home had been weakened by taking the focus of the man away. It was further weakened by taking the focus of the woman away.
What was left? Children who were increasingly split from both parents — and who were being raised more and more by an outside institution which we pretend is about education. (In reality, the most important function of the school system — for most people — is providing day care while parents focus on everything but them.)
This model is not sustainable.
This way of living means that the people who live in a house are roommates who pass each other as they go about their separate lives. And it means the raising of children is less and less a central focus of the family, because children are a burden in this model, not independent people who slowly take their part in making a home and life work together.
Love and marriage are a business decision as well as a matter of emotion and attraction. This is why I want a business partner — a builder of the business and family unit — to help me make money and accomplish great goals, not just someone who wants to spend money and live the American consumer lifestyle.
I’ve always known I was capable of making money and becoming a great success, but I’ve always known that I needed a partner to become what I was capable of becoming. Even in the projects early in my life when I had my biggest successes, I always had somebody along for the ride. Even if the ideas were mostly mine, I was a success only when I had a talented partner to help me implement the things that I dreamed up.
For me, the best families are such partnerships. They’re husbands and wives who are committed to the same goals and work together to make them happen. They’re families in which the children are an integral part of what’s going on — who are learning and growing with their parents, slowly becoming more confident and competent as they grow in their capabilities and responsibilities.
I don’t want a wife who is committed to one thing while I’m committed to another thing — with both of us leaving home and family as a mere stopping point until we go back to the places that really matter to us. I reject the model which has become so increasingly common over the last 60 years.
Most households today seem to consist of two people with completely different focuses and priorities. They might make an effort to take some vacations together or attend some social functions together, but — more and more — these people don’t know each other and don’t even like each other. (The damage to children is even worse.)
What I propose can look dozens of different ways, depending on what works for specific couples and their children. But until you genuinely see your family as a business unit working together toward joint goals — with your husband or wife as your actual partner — you’re going to keep living life on a path that’s doomed to produce loneliness, isolation and unhappiness over the long run.
It’s really important to be deeply in love with your partner and it’s important to stay in love. What the heart wants is important. But unless you choose someone who can be your business partner — someone who wants to be a real partner — your family isn’t going to be what it could be.
Together, two people can create more and achieve far more than those same two people can when they go off in different directions and leave their homes cold and bare.