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Ask The Good Enough Guy: Why Is She In MY Business?

Will, after several years of trying and failing, I finally opened my own motorcycle shop, and just a few years after that, I met a fantastic woman. She’s one of those who makes you stand up straighter and comb your hair before you leave the house, and I like that about her. She has one of those fancy business degrees and had a fancy job to go with it.

Last year her company started cutting jobs, and because she was one of the last to be hired, she was one of the first to be let go. Now she can’t find work, so where does she go every day? She comes to MY SHOP!  And she’s been trying to give me business advice too!

Will, I’ve been running this place for four years by myself, without a degree and without her help. Even in this economy, I’m making a decent profit, but that’s not good enough for her. She keeps trying to show me, “how things should be done”. I’m just about sick of her ideas, suggestions, tips, formulas, case studies, etc.  How do I tell her to shut the hell up and get the hell out? 

I love her so much Will, but something has to give.

Jeff

Hey Jeff,

First off, I like that more men are starting to ask questions, even though I have a feeling that some (including you) may not like my answers. Without hearing the whole story, I can’t be sure, but it sounds like you’re being a little stingy, a little proud, a little jealous, and a lot unsympathetic. That’s a bad combination for a relationship and doesn’t make for a very good business plan either. Now, before I hear your Harley pulling into my driveway, let me explain:

SHE’S ON YOUR NERVES. Yeah, like this is the first time. From the way you describe her, she’s one of those women who likes to… um… fix things. Most women do this, to some degree, and even though it drives men nuts, most women actually do succeed in making us better. If not for my wife, I’d still be wearing MC Hammer pants, sleeping on an IKEA futon with matching milk crate end tables, and eating Captain Crunch cereal from those little boxes that you pour the milk into. Like it or not, good women make us better men, and it sounds like you know that and like that about her. So why does it bother you that she’s trying to help you at your shop? I’m betting it’s for the same reason that you called it, “MY SHOP!”

HER FANCY DEGREE. You built your shop from the ground up. It took hard work, late nights, and a lot of stress and strain, but you did it even without some college professor showing you flip charts and bar graphs, right? Now she comes along trying to show you, “how things should be done.” Boy she really has some nerve, trying to help the man she loves fulfill his dream. Women! But you may want to ask yourself… if you did try her way of doing things, would you be more upset if it hurt your business or if it actually worked? If you get the answer I think you will, then it’s time for a tune up; you’ve got a pride and jealously build-up and it’s clogging your common sense filter.

HOW WOULD YOU FEEL? What if you lost your business (God forbid) and she had a garage full of motorcycles that you KNEW needed fixing. What if she told you that she’d rather fix them herself and didn’t want you in there? Even if she could fix them, wouldn’t you want her to let you help? I mean, motorcycles are what you do, right? Well business is what she does. She’s not trying to take over or grab all of your glory; she’s trying to do what she went to school for and probably loves doing, and if you love her like you say you do, you’d walk a mile in her shoes (not literally, unless you want your biker friends to make fun of you). She wants to be with you. You want to be with her. She wants to work in a business. You own a business. The only problem here is… well… you.

SO WHAT DO YOU DO NOW? Table leg time! The issue here is communication. You have some feelings you need to think through then you need to explain them to your girlfriend. Tell her that your business already has a boss but it could use a good business-minded employee and that she can work her way up to partner. Tell her that you’ll accept some suggestions, but only if she’ll accept that you don’t want to hear them all day, every day. And tell her that you’ll trade knowledge with her. She can show you how to manipulate a spread sheet, if you can teach her how to pack bearings and rebuild a fuel pump. That way you get a great business partner, a happy girlfriend, a working knowledge of Excel, and you get to laugh when she’s up to her elbows in grease and trying to figure out where that last screw goes. It’s a win-win!

Thanks for writing. It’s always good to hear from a brother of the struggle! Good luck to you both.

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William Jones is originally from the tiny town of Alton, Illinois, and now lives in the tinier town of Reisterstown, Maryland. He is a happy husband and a proud father of three, and writes as a hobby, in those few moments he finds between husbanding and daddy-ing. Follow him on Twitter@goodenoughguy1.

5 Comments

  1. m.e. johnson

    May 19, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Great advice, Will, as usual. Old as I am I still learn something new every day, if it’s only the defnition of a word. And I once got some excellent advice, when I had my business, from my 8-year-old neighbor.

    But maybe he is in his comfort zone and doesn’t want to be any bigger. You are right, he needs to say so.

  2. Juli

    May 19, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    She needs a job besides bugging her boyfriend. I don’t blame the man for his frustrations. Yes he needs to be sensitive about her feelings and let her know he understands her intentions are good, but that is his business and he should feel the right to have it be seperate from the relationship. She needs to get the resumé together and start making her own path, not piggyback his.

  3. Manoucheri

    May 19, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    I was torn on this until Will hit it out of the park with the idea she work her way up and that he maintain that status as boss – to because he’s the man but because he knows that shop and his biz.

    But you have to enjoy all that time together and not get on each others’ nerves. If you can’t guarantee that you may end up doing more harm than good.

    Still, I met my wife when we worked together. When you love someone deeply and have that affection you want to spen time together. My wife did make me better no question. It got harder when we didn’t spend all that time together, I missed it.

  4. Will Jones

    May 22, 2012 at 8:05 am

    M.E.- I have to ask… what was the advice you got from the 8 year old? Can’t wait th hear this one! 🙂

    Juli- I might agree that he has the “right” to keep his business separate from his personal life, but drawing hard lines over rights breaks up a lot of relationships (and even some marriages.) If he folds his arms and tells her to go away from his shop, she probably will, and if he continues with that kind of thinking, eventually she’ll probably go away all together. A little give can go a long way. I think there’s enough of a gray area on this one to for them both to find a happy medium. Thanks for the comment.

    Manoucheri- That’s a great point. While anyone might get on your nerves if we spend day in and day out with them, not being able to tolerate working with a person should probably send up red flags. Long term relationships are anything but easy, and if you can’t work together for a few hours, how are you ever going to work out life’s problems together? Great food for thought, Dave. Thanks.

  5. Tiffany T

    June 4, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    “If not for my wife, I’d still be wearing MC Hammer pants…”

    Oh… I’m still wiping the tears away…

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