As a personal and professional growth trainer, I get asked a lot of questions about how to create success. Yet the single most frequent question I hear is, “How can I emulate some of what you and your wife have created together?” Nancy and I are partners in business and in life, and as you can surmise from this question, many people perceive us as successful in both.

Is there a secret to successfully merging business and personal relationships? Let me tell you my story, and you can decide for yourself.

My first marriage was a learning experience. In my early twenties, I made a snap decision to marry someone with whom I thought I was in love. I was still in university at the time, studying music. I had a big dream of becoming a world-renowned jazz pianist. Crazy? Maybe, but that’s what I wanted.

The problem was, the music business is all about taking risks—and my wife abhorred risk. She couldn’t stand the fact that I didn’t have a pension or dental insurance. In her wanting me to conform to her needs, she frequently punished me emotionally for my lack of interest in a steady job. I might work as many as a dozen piano gigs per week to provide for our young family, yet my income was never quite secure enough for her.

As the years passed, I turned to music alone to bring joy to my life, and in the end, our relationship melted into divorce. (Immediately afterward, my ex-wife married a man who has had the same steady job for the past thirty years.)

Now that I was on my own for the first time in my adult life, I took the opportunity to tour the world, recording eight albums and winning several awards. During this time I also met and married my true life partner, Nancy.

What a difference a wife can make! Nancy and I not only hit it off in our personal relationship, we also joined forces to produce and record an entire music catalogue, build a real estate portfolio, produce two documentaries, start a couple of online businesses and build a successful training company. We’ve also raised a teenage son and marvel every day at how he is developing into a truly outstanding young man.

Nancy and I believe that the secret to all these accomplishments is something we like to call “spiritual partnership.” Bestselling author Gary Zukav describes a spiritual partnership as “a partnership between equals for the purposes of spiritual growth.”

Though we entered our marriage and business partnership without knowing the spiritual language, we had been practicing many of its concepts through intuition, and the rest we learned from mentors and masters. Growing spiritually means conforming to the natural laws of creation and living abundantly, as though every day were your last.

Based on the many laws of spiritual partnership and our seventeen years of experience, here are some of our recommendations for relationship and business success:

1. Make sure you both share the same goals. You don’t need to do the exact same things, you just need a common direction. For Nancy and me, this means a lovely home and yacht that we can share with others, a business we can work on together, financial freedom, healthy minds and healthy bodies.

2. Share the same work space. Our office space is an area of our home that has been designated as such. Once we leave that space, however, we immediately step out of our business partnership and into our marriage. Since Nancy and I work together every day, all day long, we’ve had to create boundaries that would clearly separate work from family time.

3. Whatever stress, drama or workload you experience at work should stay there. If something needs attention after work hours, agree ahead of time on when to attend to it. Finding the right balance between work and family can be very difficult unless you negotiate the boundaries in advance. For example, once I’d tucked our son Adrian in for the night, I used to go back to work, but only after I had Nancy’s agreement to do so.

4. Create family rituals. Since Adrian was a baby, I’ve tucked him in every night with the same two questions: “Who’s the best boy in the whole wide world?” and “What are you grateful for today?” Hearing him run through his gratitude list reminded me of why we do what we do. Being 13 now, Adrian doesn’t want to be tucked in anymore, so I found a new ritual: he loves the way I make hot chocolate with extra froth.

5. Understand each other’s emotional currency. Tony Robbins says that everyone has different emotional needs. For example, I value significance, while Nancy desires love. When she lets me know she is proud of me, it’s like rocket fuel for my soul. On the other hand, a simple hug in the middle of a hectic day does it for her.

6. Intimacy is a must. Every single morning, for the past seventeen years, I take five minutes to rub Nancy’s back. This one little ritual lets her know I’m tuned in to her needs, and that I still value her the same way I did seventeen years ago. Couples who create these kinds of intimate rituals grow together instead of apart.

As our business continues to grow, we’ve noticed that the same core values from our personal relationship have seeped into our business relationships. Now our entire team shares in those values, and we use similar partnership principles in our team-building seminars. For example, before committing to working with new business partners, we find out exactly what their emotional currency is.

I wish I could say there is a secret formula to creating successful partnerships in business and in love. The truth is, this kind of partnership is a gift. If you are blessed with such a relationship, make it a point to regularly renew your deep commitment to supporting each other in your purpose and passion. Fuel your partnership by nurturing a safe environment for personal growth and everything else will grow from there.

PAUL TOBEY and NANCY HOULE are founders of
Training Business Pros, a company that has helped
entrepreneurs with Internet marketing, sales
skills, presentation techniques and personal development.