Meet Chelsea, she is an educated, driven, balanced, and beautiful woman. I am sad to say that Chelsea and I have never met in person. I found her via her WifeStyle blog when I was religiously searching the internet about being a wife just weeks before my wedding. Her blog and personality captured my attention instantly! Her blog is a great one to follow. Take a minute to read her story about being a life partner and business partner.
Here is her unknown story:
Aren’t identities funny? Isn’t it funny how some of us identify certain ways, while society forces other identities onto people? Each of these identities usually has some sort of generalization associated with them, typically both good and bad. I suppose that is part of being human. We need to compartmentalize things in order to understand them.
It’s been just about a year since I had a pretty large identity shift and I quit my social worker job and starting working full-time on the business I own with my husband. We own a speaking and training business helping people solve their communication struggles, with him doing a fair majority of the speaking while I run our business operations.
Yes, we know this increases our chance of divorce, based on other people’s outcome. Yes, we know it’s hard and challenging. Yes, we do have to pay for our own insurance. No, we don’t sit around making out all day in the office (that’s reserved for Thursdays).
My identity has shifted from social worker to entrepreneur. My identity of ‘woman’ has become ‘woman business owner’ and my identity of ‘wife’ has expanded to balance the relationship of life partner and business partner. To say it’s been an ‘adjustment’ would be a severe understatement and an understatement is the worst.
I could go on and on about many of the stereotypes society and outdated expectations relate to women and wives but instead I would like to focus on my newest identity of ‘woman business owner.’
One of the first things you have to do when opening your own business is to open a business banking account. We had been functioning as a side business for a while but realized it was time to jump all and open a corporation.
My husband and I moseyed on down to our bank with our fancy new Federal Tax ID to meet with a small business specialist to open our bank account.
We get settled into the outdated brown chairs and the man we are working with is probably in his late 30s, wearing a fancy business suit. He asks my husband to fill out his portion of the application first. No worries, I can be patient and wait my turn. We all sit quietly while my husband fills out his paperwork.
Then he hands me a pen to fill out my part and the banker immediately starts asking my husband all about our finances, the structure of our business, what about our 401k, etc.
Thank goodness I married a supportive and outspoken man because he suddenly stopped the man and said “Why don’t we wait for my wife and business partner to complete her portion to answer these questions since she is the one with all the business information.”
I could have thrown that pen across the room and leaped into my husband’s arms for speaking to the fact that this man was assuming my husband had all the answers I must have been his secretary or something.
The banker simply said “Oh. Sure. Okay we can wait.”
After I finished my form, he said “So then should we put your wife as the main contact for this because I listed you so we’ll have to redo some of the paperwork.”
I could have kicked him in the head. Why on earth was he assuming that my husband was the go-to for all of this? Because of his identity of a man? Because he was taller than me? Why didn’t he bother to ask us instead of thinking my husband would take the lead on everything?
I took a deep breath and asked the banker, “Why did you decide to put my husband as the primary person instead of asking us whom it should be?”
That made him squirm a little but eventually he said, “That’s just what I usually do so I assumed it would be the same. Sorry.”
I wish I could tell you I launched into a rant about how ridiculous that is, how he should stop judging people based on certain identities and start valuing women the same he values men. I didn’t.
I realize this man wasn’t intentionally trying to tell me I was inferior to my husband or that he must have more knowledge than me because of his gender…but that is what he did. My newest identity of ‘woman business owner’ started shining through because she wouldn’t stand for it.
My reply was “Please reprint the paperwork and list me as the primary contact. Thanks.”
If and when you decide to get married, please make sure it’s to someone who creates a partnership with you. Someone that values your entire worth, sees you as an equal and knows full well that you can speak for yourself but also isn’t afraid to correct a wrong.
I feel quite thankful to have found this person early in life. As we head into our next adventures of being life partners as well as business partners, I know our identities will shift and morph and I’m glad I have someone who embraces all of mine.
Also, if you have any questions regarding our business operations, please direct them at me…the capable woman/wife/entrepreneur.
Check out Chelsea’s blog The New Wifestyle
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“I wish I could tell you I launched into a rant about how ridiculous that is, how he should stop judging people based on certain identities and start valuing women the same he values men. I didn’t.”
Yes you did. You just did it in an affirming and non-condescending way by asking him why he did it and asking him to re-do it. See, if you launch into the tirade, then you’re just another pissed off feminist, right? Instead, you made him slightly uncomfortable by making him acknowledge his error- this if good- he won’t forget it. However, you allowed him to retain his dignity, something he forgot to afford you. You showed him how it was done. And Ryan helped with his assertion also.
Nope, I don’t think you could have done it better Chelsea. It takes people a while to adjust to new ideas. You made this guy think about a “new” idea and that’s a good thing.
thank you paula for saying that. i honestly didn’t feel like i did enough but after your response and helping me see that i did make this guy think about a new idea-i did do something. thank you for helping me see that!