Surviving Your Partner's Network Marketing Business: A Skeptical Husband's Perspective
Written by my husband, Tristan. Who penned this post for you to navigate the early years as your partner grows their network marketing business -- and as a really really long way of saying to me "babe, you were right" ;-) .
Take it away, my love...
Network Marketing for Uninitiated Partners
Oh, so you have just realised that you are partnered to an aspiring network marketing guru…?
I am here to help... I’m a psychologist :-).
Now, I was brought up in a simple way with regards to earning money in the world. You study hard, you get a good job, you get paid… The end.
My wife however learnt something else along the way. She learnt that you can earn money through your own means and entrepreneurial talents. Who would’ve thought?! #duh
In ours, as in many cases, network marketing began as something small. 2 and a half years later and my wife’s business now supports a flexible lifestyle for all of us independent of location and financial stress and I am so grateful for this.
In the beginning, I was in doubt/ denial that the whole process would last to be honest. Psychiatrist Kubler Ross developed a now well-known theory of grief that I think is relevant here (I’m not trying to draw a comparison between my wife joining a network marketing company and grief but the stages seemed relevant nonetheless). Kubler Ross theorised the 5 stages of grief as Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Depression & Acceptance and I will refer to them here to describe the process I have experienced in the hope it may be helpful to you. We learn from ours and others mistakes after all, so why make a mistake that I someone already has?
In my case I think it was more Doubt than Denial as such. I was dubious (another great d word) regarding what this product was and the company. I’m a scientist at heart- a behavioural scientist and the researching grain was bludgeoned into me through university. It is worth pointing out that I am also a sceptic…. Of most things new and those I don’t understand…
So, my approach to my wife’s new role was to research the hell out of the company doTERRA and the product it was selling. I read the blogs for and against realising these eventually cancel each other out. Then I went to the remuneration scheme and researched this. The remuneration setup, like all network marketing companies’, is complex. I did the pragmatic maths to determine how a company could pay what they were purportedly going to pay to my wife for developing the seemingly simple little business that she was… I tried really, really hard to pick it apart. I made more than the occasional attempt to convince her I had found a flaw in their scheme… (She explained to me my errors). Safe to say that the fact It’s taken me 3 years to write this shows how much I dislike being wrong.
So, then I went to the research itself on the product. I researched the hell out of scientific published databases looking for non-biased randomised control trials (the pinnacle of research methodology FYI) and found a relative amount of research that supported the products. Denial and doubt nestled in my mind for a little longer until eventually the scientific method finally told me to accept that there was nothing evil with either the company or the product.
Whilst you are in this stage, research all you like if you need reassurance. Come from a place of care for your partner and your financial security also but trust in her capacity to do the research herself. If she needs your help, she’ll ask.
Denial and bargaining seemed to cohabitate for a while in my head with my wife starting her new journey with doTERRA. I was influenced by articles e-bashing (is that a thing?) network marketing and had images of pyramid schemes discrediting our lives and the constant threat of losing friends and reputation. I talked / attempted to cajole my wife into reading what I had read and the issues with network marketing. Once again, she corrected my thinking and validated where some of these articles were accurate in relation to some other companies. In hindsight, this probably wasn’t bargaining at all but instead a one-sided rhetoric of unfounded beliefs designed to challenge my wife’s unbridled optimism.
This all came from a place of fear. Deep down, when we are completely honest with ourselves, fear is where the majority of our adverse reactions to things evolve from. Fear of loss, fear of embarrassment, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, etc. The list of psychological presentations that I usually see people for goes on.
Recognise your fears. With awareness comes choice and in this case, the choice is whether to act with mindful presence or to instead react (the latter is generally not helpful in most relationships BTW). Acting on your fears may entail challenging them in your own head (what is the real evidence for my fear based beliefs?) or it may simply be a case of noticing the fear and watching it pass as you choose to instead embody trust in your partner’s decision as you trust her.
Relationships, like network marketing businesses, and life in general is not all smooth sailing. There are expected and unexpected ups and downs. Now, I generally don’t get particularly angry and when I do, I certainly don’t express it in what may be considered the typical male way. My automatic response to anger is, well, it’s more akin to sulking in some form or another until the anger has passed. I could provide an acute insight into why this is psychologically speaking but I will save this from here. This pattern works for me to some extent though my wife may not agree it works for her. Anyways…
As my wife’s foray into network marketing continued and her business grew exponentially, this started taking up a significant amount of our time. So, my brain in its typical immature form, decided to pounce on the business as the root of all evil in our relationship and catastrophized that our marriage was going to be doomed should she continue etc etc etc.. I became resentful (angry) towards the perceived neglect and yes, you guessed it, I sulked…
Most relationship counsellors will agree that one of the primary predictors of happiness, satisfaction and longevity in a relationship is a couples’ ability to commit to and dedicate time to each other. Together. This can be in any form. If you are in the early stages of your wife’s developing new career, believe me, it is going to get busier for a while if it is going to be a success (I use this word carefully as success is, and ought to be, defined subjectively). Don’t blame the business. Manage the time you have together better. We all have the same number of minutes in a day – the Dalai Lama, Elon Musk, … Look what they achieve. Take responsibility for your time. Much is possible to fit in your day if you make the commitment.
Thankfully, my experience of depressed emotions related to my wife’s business to date have been limited to the misrepresented thoughts of FOMO*. I can appreciate how partners’ could become easily drawn in to the ups and downs (particularly the downs) of a network marketing business and feel every class ‘failure’ or networked rejection or team member’s lack of motivation as something they need to fix. Men have a habit of wanting to ‘fix’ when things don’t seem right (it’s an evolutionary thing). Sometimes, things can just be left alone though, and will right themselves when they are aligned to. My advice would be to ride these waves with your partner. As with any business, there will always be growth and moderating and times where it may feel like collapse is imminent. Relax, breathe, and look forwards.
At difficult times, support your partner however you can. This doesn’t mean agreeing with everything that she does (my wife may argue this point) but it does mean at least shutting your mouth when you otherwise might not. It is her business, not yours. Her’s to build, her’s to fall if this is what is to be. And falling does not equal failure. I spoke before of success being a subjective thing. Likewise, so is failure. There are so many stories of people moving from one network marketing business to another until finally landing on one that resonates with them and then thriving within it. This business might just be one of these for your partner. There are learnings to be had in each decision that we make. Let her experience these learnings and take them to her next decision.
I used to run a men’s group quite a few years back for substance abusers and at the beginning of each group we read out a list of group rules. The one that I will never forget is “No advice giving.”. Now, it might seem unusual that in a men’s support group there would be no advice giving but the truth of it is that we know no better than anyone else in relation to their specific unique circumstances. Keep your advice to yourself unless it is requested. Even then, she probably knows better anyhow.
At some point in the second year of my wife’s business, I came to accept and realise and respect her ability and capacity within this industry. (Yes, you read right, second year).
I have been deluded in thinking at various times that by being a negative-Nancy my wife would thrive as it would give her the competitive spirit to prove me wrong. Perhaps there’s a part of me that still believes this. I wonder though how far she would have come if I had been 100% on board from the beginning? How much less resistance she would have had to push through and have been able to focus more on her goals? I won’t know the answer to this question though I believe that the majority of my responses to the above weren’t particularly helpful to the process.
The majority of people who enter into a network marketing business do not emerge from the other side with multimillion dollar businesses. This is the truth. But not everybody seeks to as well. There is so much to be gained personally and psychologically from endeavouring to begin a new business, and with accurate and supportive guidance and leadership from your upline, network marketing can be an amazing and safe opportunity for people to do this.
As a partner to the next potential doTERRA or other network marketing company guru of the world; remember your place, remember to come from a place of trusting support and not fear, remember to make time for your relationship, and lastly (with full awareness to the irony here) no advice giving.
Tristan Abba – The Happy Collective Psychologist & CFO
*‘Fear of Missing Out’ for those of you above 16 or have managed to successfully avoid the abbreviated vernacular of today’s world.