My husband and I were married for seven years when we started Jonas Paul Eyewear in 2013. When we started our life together, we never imagined going down this path - growing together as wedding photographers to starting a business in the medical field without having any experience in optometry was a huge leap with no shortage of long nights and unwelcomed lessons learned.
I very clearly remember the first conversations with friends and family about our idea of launching Jonas Paul Eyewear. Of course, everyone thought we were in over our heads. Not only did it seem like a large undertaking, but we had just given birth to our son Jonas, who was born with a rare disorder that causes blindness. Needless to say, we had our hands full - constantly in and out of the hospital for 21 eye surgeries that helped Jonas achieve low vision - but amidst it all, we remained devoted to finding a way to make our dreams of launching this business together work.
While the thought of spending literally all your time together may be daunting to some, there are so many unique advantages to tackling business with your life partner that outweigh this silly fear. After all, you go into a marriage knowing you'll be each other's rock - the one who your partner will lean on and come to at life's most trying moments.
If you are able to conquer your days in this way, imagine the power you can harness when applied to your business! Ben and I take pride in our ability to balance our marriage with our business, and oftentimes find ourselves sharing our experiences with others looking to do the same.
Not a day goes by without learning something new, these are the ways we've been able to make loving, working, and living all work.
Define your roles and set boundaries.
Couples have a tendency to micromanage in marriages, so give each other ownership of certain roles from the start, and trust that you'll both do awesome. Early on in our working relationship we sat down and had a heart to heart as we knew we needed to define our roles and responsibilities, we would often find ourselves stepping on each other's toes and questioning one another's work. Once we did this and identified the areas that each of us are strong in, we could then confidently trust the other person and know that the jobs would be completed without having to micromanage one another.
Keep the communication lines open.
We know, this is the opposite of what most say - but it's okay to talk about business on date night! We used to keep it off-limits but it was inevitable, kind of like talking about your child. If you embrace it, you remove the stress of trying to avoid it. We are currently training for a half marathon and we've also found that on our runs we are having our business strategy meetings. An unexpected place and time to talk about business, but it has worked out well. We are exercising while getting work done at the same time. So now we know three mornings a week we have a dedicated time to training and getting some work done. It's a win-win in our book!
Compliments are key
Complementing one another regarding work can be a hard one, as it is easier to encourage our team and the work that they are doing rather than each other. But thankfully, we do try really hard to encourage one another on the work that they are doing as everyone likes to be praised in some way. I truly believe that encouraging your partner (whether at home or work) is extremely important. And for us, sometimes the best time of day to do this is when we get home from the office and are pouring a glass of wine and cooking dinner as our kids are running around the house.
It's OK to vent
Being able to vent to one another and know that you aren't going to upset the other person is really helpful when growing a business. This is unique because as business partners, you share the same stressors at work. It's helpful because you can actually relate to these joys and frustrations, whereas couples working in different industries may experience a disconnect. There is no one else that better understands what the other person is going through in our situation, and we've always looked at that as a good thing. Being able to relate on this level, while growing a business has brought us so much closer in our marriage.
So, who says married couples can't make a successful business team? Yes, having a happy marriage alone takes work from both sides - and starting a business together does add to that. It can be hard, it will be hard, but it is amazing what you can accomplish when you work towards a shared mission together. As you take a step back and reflect on the journey, the unparalleled joy you will share with your partner as you fulfill your dreams together will make it all worth it.
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."