“We fall in love by chance, we stay in love by choice.” – Unknown

I met the love of my life by accident. When I was just 19, starting out at Concordia University in Montreal. It was June, beautiful out, and I was so incredibly excited to begin my journey as a stu-dent.

There was just one major problem: I didn’t speak a word of English and Concordia is an English speaking University.

I spent the better part of my first morning there struggling to ask questions, pick my classes, and read the orientation materials. There’s nothing more overwhelming and scary than getting thrown into an unfamiliar situation, with no way to communicate! I tried my best, determined not to let the language barrier keep me from making my mark at the University.

Then I met Margarita. Actually, Margarita spotted me struggling (basically playing charades) with the Dean of the Theater Department, trying to ask a basic question. She came to my rescue by say-ing, “J’suis bilingue… j’peux-tu t’aider?” I’m bilingual… can I help you? That phrase was the start of an almost 30 year (and counting…) love story.

I always thought “love at first sight” was corny until I met Margarita. I was totally hooked. And lucky for me, Margarita was just as taken with me, poor English skills and all.

It’s been nearly 30 years since that fateful moment. Margarita and I have shared our lives together, businesses together, and built a thriving, nurturing relationship. It’s hard to believe that much time has passed already!

But, as most relationships usually go, it hasn’t always been rainbows and unicorns for us. There were many times when we didn’t know what it was going to take to create the fulfilling, rewarding relationship we both wanted. While we were busy building two successful businesses, we easily slipped into more of a partnership, and neglected what it takes to nurture a loving relationship.

At some point we both realized: We’re both giving 300% at work every day. So, why should it be any different in our relationship?

Being the super driven, business-minded people we are, we sat down to collaborate to see how we could fix the problem (after all, we’re entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs are problem solvers). We discovered that three things that slowly affect business growth, were the same three things slowly suffocating our relationship: a lack of communication, a lack of time together, and a lack of bound-aries. (Three doozies I’m positive you’re no stranger to…am I right or am I right?)

So, we made a decision and a clear action plan to fixing these three problems. Which, let me say, was not a walk in the park. We started by looking at the strategies we used to solve these issues in business…and could they be applied to personal relationships? We not only wanted to save our re-lationship, we wanted it to thrive. So we put our theory to the test! This process created many struggles, much pain, and several fights…however, it was all worthwhile in the end because we now have a mutual understanding of what our relationship needs to be healthy and happy. Here is what we did…

The first thing we implemented is permission and a safe space for having brave conversations with each other when needed. We’ve been together for almost 30 years, for cryin’ out loud! That’s a lot of time for people to shift and change, and it’s so important to keep that line of communication open between a couple when these shifts and changes are happening. So we sit down and we have those tough, tears-in-our-eyes conversations that we know we need to have.

One of those conversations actually led us to give up our lives in downtown Vancouver and move out to a 5-acre equestrian estate. Hard to believe it, right? Margarita knew deep down that living in the city wasn’t giving her the fulfillment she so desperately needed, so she spoke up and I listened. Our life is so much richer as a result of that brave conversation.

The second thing we did is fully map out our differences, especially around our natural rhythms and paces. I’m an early riser, and Margarita, not so much! So, we started planning our “spontane-ous” time together. Blocking off a couple of hours in both of our busy days, at times when we’re both functioning at our best, to allow us to enjoy some quality time together to re-learn what made us fall in love in the first place and enjoy spontaneous adventures together. I’m always giddy with excitement before spending quality time with Margarita, just like I was when we first met in Uni-versity.

The third thing we learned and implemented, and maybe the most important piece, is how to grow together. For us, that meant setting boundaries to allow us to grow individually and togeth-er.

Boundaries are so important in every relationship, but for so long we ignored the need to set any and blurred the lines of business and personal. Some boundaries are as simple as putting each other in charge of specific tasks, like calling the plumber or planning a party…so there’s no confusion as to who is supposed to take care of what. Other times, it’s about consciously leaving work behind to enjoy dinner and a movie. Yes, a date! Even after 30 years. Whatever our boundaries are, they al-low us both to remain sane and grow side-by-side every day.

What so many couples don’t realize is your relationship is just as—if not more—important as your job. So, why not treat your relationship like a million-dollar client? Of course, it’s not al-ways easy. Margarita and I have had our fair share of fights, and we nearly threw in the towel a few times and gave up on us altogether. But, here we are, still together. Thriving together. And I’m tell-ing you, begging you, to take the steps your relationship needs to flourish. You’ll never regret it—you’ll only regret not trying.

Brand Strategist & Business Growth Catalyst
Co-Founder/CEO of LeapZone Strategies & Host of LeapTV.com
Isabelle Mercier Turcotte is a ‘no-nonsense’ dynamo, born to catapult passionate entrepreneurs to build impactful brands, businesses and lives. As one of North America’s Top Small Business Influencers, best-selling author, TEDx speaker with over 2 Million views, and TV show host, Isabelle’s sole purpose is to empower change and growth. To work with her, please visit leapzonestrategies.com. You can find her on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/leapzone/.