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updated 9/15/2012 9:16:20 AM ET 2012-09-15T13:16:20

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For entrepreneurs and small business owners, long hours can take a toll on personal relationships, leaving your partner feeling taken for granted while you focus on growing your business.

“Partners will often say they knew what they were getting into but it’s really wearing them down,” says Rachel Sussman, a marriage and family therapist in New York City.

Your partner may feel alienated from you, taken advantage of, or overburdened with an unfair share of daily chores. “Those issues often come out in a fight as an explosion,” Sussman says.

To prevent resentment from building up in the first place, you need to communicate clearly and anticipate possible problems before they happen. “Entrepreneurs need to put the same amount of due diligence into their partnerships that they’re putting into their companies,” Sussman says.

Related: Is Your Business Taking Over Your Marriage?

These three simple techniques can help your relationship survive tough times without adding stress to your already busy life. Here’s how:

1. Talk through busy times before they happen. When you’re starting a business or running a company, working long hours will sometimes be unavoidable. “Discuss the impact that’s going to have on your partner and your life and try to come up with a solution together,” Sussman says.

During an especially busy time, you may need to hire help, rearrange schedules, or ask relatives for support. In many cases, simply acknowledging and appreciating your partner’s sacrifice may be all they need.

2. Involve your partner in your business. When work is especially time consuming or stressful, involving your partner can help him or her feel more invested in your business. “A mistake that a lot of people make is to shield their partners from their business problems,” Sussman says. “Most partners want to know what’s going on.”

Talk to your partner about the highs and lows of your workday when you come home. The more your partner understands about what you’re dealing with, the better they’ll be able to support you. Just remember to ask about your partner’s day too.

Related: Do's and Don'ts of Seeking Business Advice From a Spouse

3. Make time for your partner in small ways. Even when you’re swamped at work, you need to find ways to show you appreciate your partner. “Relationships need to be fed,” Sussman says. “You can do that by carving out a little time in a creative way.”

Send a thoughtful text at lunchtime or phone home to say goodnight before your kids go to bed. If you don’t have time for date nights, plan creative quick dates together (like a picnic lunch or a 20 minute walk) and make the most of the time you have.  

Related: Pop the Question. It Will Help Your Business (Opinion)

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