Momentum Podcast: 564

Part 1: The Marriage Process

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

In the next few episodes, we’re going to share with you a special panel my wife, Cadey, and I did at our most recent mastermind. We break down the processes we’ve built into our marriage that have allowed us to continue growing together as we grow our business. If you want to hear the steps on how we make our relationship work at a high level while continuing to change the world, listen in. 

You know, most entrepreneurs go all-in on business and expect their relationships to take care of themselves. The problem is, they won’t. They need just as much attention – if not more – than you put into your business. Cadey and I have discovered that there are business principles and strategies you can put into a relationship to make it easier. Yes, they can go hand in hand. Tune in as we share how you can apply these successfully, eliminate communication and money arguments, and create an alignment process that will change everything. 

Full Audio Transcript

Alex Charfen: This is the Momentum Podcast.

Eddie: Hey everybody, this is Eddie with Alex Charfen's team and I want to welcome you to a very special episode of the Momentum Podcast. Today we have some audio of Alex on a panel with his wife, Cadey, at our high level mastermind event. On this panel Alex and Cadey break down the processes that they've built into their marriage so that they can grow together as they grow the business. And they're going to share the steps in the process that they've built to make their marriage work at a high level while changing the world with their business. I think this episode is going to be life changing for anybody listening, check it out.

Alex Charfen: I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum Podcast. Made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will.

We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat, because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future and instead of just daydreaming of what it could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real.

We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution and we always will be. One of the goals that we have for this year is, Cadey in the businesses that the two of us have run, she's acted kind of as a COO and as the operator. And what often happens in entrepreneurial relationships is that there's two people and one becomes the operator because they're not as much of a visionary as the other one. And then what often happens in entrepreneurial relationships is that you just think of that person as an operator.

But what Cadey is, is a very visionary person who's also very good at operating the business. And so our goal this year is to move her more into content, more out of the operations of the business. And so we're going to start testing and doing presentations like this to understand what type of questions you guys have, what type of issues you're dealing with so that we can figure out what content we can create to help you. And so I'll just give you a little bit of background. We've been married 15 years, no, how long have we been married?

Cadey Charfen: We've been together 15 years, married for 13.

Alex Charfen: Together 13 years, married 35, so ...

Cadey Charfen: 35 of the best years of his life.

Alex Charfen: And we've run a bunch of different businesses together. We've also done a ton of investing together. We've done really well. We've made tens of millions of dollars for our family, and a lot of money for our clients. We're not perfect at any of this stuff, but we figured a lot of it out. And so we want to open this for questions. But I think first, Cadey can you just ... You often share the process and the marriage is one of the most important things that there is. And most marriages have little or no process. Can you share with people why it's so important?

Cadey Charfen: Sure. I think that we'll as entrepreneurs go all in on our business and then sometimes we just think that our marriage is going to take care of itself, or our relationships are going to take care of themselves. And the challenges is that they don't. And I also believe that business is easier for entrepreneurs. I think that interpersonal relationships make us feel vulnerable. They make us feel exposed. And it's easy, because businesses are very tactical and if you do the right things, you'll get a result.

And marriage and relationships are a little bit more complicated. And so I feel like, and I think in even in the business that we ran where Lucius worked with us, Alex and I got to a point where we stopped communicating. And so people were looking at us and go, "No, they've got this perfect marriage and this perfect relationship."

And that business was really hard. It grew really fast. We added a second kid and you know-

Alex Charfen: Which is like adding 12 I guess.

Cadey Charfen: Which is like adding 12-

Alex Charfen: ... somehow.

Cadey Charfen: ... and then at one point-

Alex Charfen: One plus one equals 13.

Cadey Charfen: Yeah. And at one point we had 90 people where it became a lot less about what we were doing and the impact that we were making. And it started becoming about managing personalities and it became really hard. And so Alex and I are really good. There's an alchemy between us that makes business really fun and it makes it fun to grow together. And there was a point where we stopped growing together, and I started going into more of the traditional role where he was the CEO and I was just taking over everything that I could and trying to keep my head above water and I wasn't communicating and he wasn't communicating either, because he was struggling too.

Alex Charfen: But she was not communicating worse than I was, so.

Cadey Charfen: Of course. And so I think because we're really good at business there are business principles and business strategy that you can put into a relationship to make relationships easier and to make marriage easier. Especially when you're wired the way that we're wired. Because I think that if your relationship is struggling it's really hard to make your greatest contribution. It's really hard to go and be in momentum in the business and come home and not really want to be there because you're not communicating and it doesn't feel good.

And so I always say that process in a marriage isn't sexy, but you end up having a lot more sex. And I believe that. And I think that's part of a healthy marriage, and a healthy relationship and the more-

Alex Charfen: I get stimulated just talking about process, it's awesome.

Cadey Charfen: So I think the more that we can take kind of the business principles and apply them as a foundation in a marriage like you would as a foundation in a business, the more successful that your relationship will be. And ultimately you achieve more together, you're happier, you live a more fulfilling life and you can go out and make your greatest contribution.

Alex Charfen: I always tell entrepreneurs, "You will only sustain as much momentum in your business as you have in your marriage. And people get kind of prickly about that and they don't like that statement at all. But it's true. It really is true. And what happens to a lot of people is they believe that they can compartmentalize and it's like, "Oh my marriage is falling apart. I'm going to go focus everything on the business and it'll be okay." It doesn't work out that way. It usually brings way more pain and way more challenge in your life. And so the faster you can put your marriage on stable ground and then keep it there, the better the marriage is going to grow. And when we talk about process in a marriage, there's two major arguments in a marriage. Does anybody know what they are? The two foundational arguments. Money and communication.

Yeah. Sex is a big one too, but it's money and communication. So communication is first, we don't communicate enough. And the second one is we argue about money. So if you put a simple communication process into your business, you eliminate problem number one. And if you put a net worth goal into your conversations where you drive a net worth goal, you pretty much eliminate number two. And so with a very lightweight minimum effective dose process, you can eliminate the top two conversations that most people have that are negative in a marriage. It's that easy. And so every one of you can do this.

So, if you look at the two, and this is ... For years we did private consulting and I've worked with a lot of CEOs and one of the things that almost everyone was dealing with was issues in their marriage. And so I started studying relationship issues and we've done a lot of that work too because of our relationship. And when you look at top two problems, communication and money. So whenever I see here is the top two, that simple. So let's attack those two. And so the easiest thing to do is put a simple lightweight communication process in your marriage, and we'll tell you what we do. And then the second one is drive a net worth goal. Because if you're driving a net worth goal as a couple, if you're like, "Here's where we are now and at the end of the year here's where we're going to be," you changed the conversation from spending and budgeting and you spent too much, I spent too much to, "Here's what we're going to achieve together." And you virtually eliminate the money issue. As long as you both commit to it.

Haley: Do you all have any specific family rules per se to allow for that structure in the house? Like for example, Megan and I have been married for 18 years and worked together and are with each other 24/7. But if we talk about business after seven o'clock at night, it kind of ruins the evening. If you all have any specific timelines or household rules to where business is done and it's purely relationship?

Alex Charfen: We're not super good at that part, but here's what we're really good at. We're good at, we have rules around alignment and so every morning whether we want to or not, we sit down and align, and early on it ... Daily alignment is challenging, because it's this new thing that you're doing where you're sitting down and it can feel a little bit awkward and then one day is good, the next day you're in a hurry. That definitely was challenging in the beginning. But today, our morning alignment, we didn't align today because of this event and we were both going in different directions. When I got here I was like, "What did I forget this morning?" It's been bothering me all day. I just had the realization as I sit here that we didn't align, that we didn't align.

Cadey Charfen: No, we did.

Alex Charfen: Did we?

Cadey Charfen: Yeah, we did align.

Alex Charfen: It might have been too quick then, but so daily alignment Haley. And then the second one is every week we sit down and we go through a weekly alignment. So those are the two things that are really foundational for us and the alignment happens in the morning before we wake the kids up when the house is quiet. And so if we do that, that's a game changer. And then we absolutely track and discuss our net worth goal and that's a non-negotiable. We look at it every month. Cadey has it all set up in mint. We just looked at it for January, oh sorry, for December. We just looked at it last week and so we don't miss those things.

Cadey Charfen: I'll also say, and it's easier now because we have kids. When it was just the two of us, it was like we talked about business all the time, because that's what we really like, right? It's really fun and exciting and that's where we have a lot of common ground and we want to move that bar. And now that we have kids, we don't talk about business at the dinner table and if we are our kids will tell us, "Can we stop talking about business?" And so we're like, "Okay." So we do have, it's a lot ... Now that we have children, they're a buffer for us and so the rules kind of get applied on just that way, just through them.

Alex Charfen: And with the kids we have this concept of book ending the days. So we start the day with our kids. So I wake them up every day and in a really specific way. They don't have a challenging wake up process at all. It's a really calm and peaceful way to enter the day. And then sometime during the morning I take the kids on at least a 20, usually 25 minute walk. And I get a download from them. And if you've met my kids, it's 25 minutes of listening. I don't, like, "How are you guys doing?" And then I just walk and listen. And then Cadey connects with them at some time in the morning too. Usually when they're eating dinner, or sorry, breakfast.

And then at the end of the day, it's always our goal to have dinner as a family together and then close the day together. So we have like a whole night ritual we go to and at the dinner table, all of us say three things that we're grateful for. And then at night when I'm tugging theo kids in, we have them say three things where they won that day, because there's now scientific proof around if you recognize what you're grateful for and you recognize where you won during the day, those two things will amplify. So we have the kids do that. The two of us do it in the momentum planner, but those are the non-negotiables Haley.

Cadey Charfen: Cool.

Alex Charfen: Yeah, for sure.

Speaker 5: Yeah. No thanks for doing this guys.

Alex Charfen: Yeah, for sure.

Speaker 5: Can you discuss a little bit about your alignment process, the conversations, the five minutes, 10 minutes, what you talk about, what you don't talk about, just how it works.

Alex Charfen: Yeah, so we both use our momentum planner and I spent, I don't know, probably three years developing this product and it's the product we talk about the least, but it's the one that the two of us use every day. And so our conversation each morning centers around, "What was I grateful for the day before and where did I win?" So we take one step back and then we start with that and then I share my intention. Cadey shares her intention. We both share the top three things we have for the day and then we both share where we were uncomfortable the day before. And it's like literally the exact momentum planner process.

Speaker 5: Oh, you're just doing the momentum planner together out loud as you plan your own plan?

Alex Charfen: Not as we plan it. We do independent planning and then we get together-

Speaker 5: So you have yours and then you have a couples?

Alex Charfen: Yip.

Speaker 5: Is it one book for both of you?

Alex Charfen: Uh-uh (negative).

Speaker 5: Or you each have your own book, but you have your couples book and then you have your solo book?

Alex Charfen: No, we actually use our own books and then we just have a conversation around what each one of us is doing. I always put my calendar in my planner and so does Cadey. And so we have a conversation about everything that's on each of our pages and then what's going on in that day and where we might need support.

Speaker 5: So just transparency then?

Alex Charfen: Yeah.

Speaker 5: It can be transparency and communication.

Alex Charfen: Yeah.

Speaker 5: And so as my wife wakes up and just naturally one of the first things she do, she's like, "Okay, what does your day look like?"

Alex Charfen: Yeah.

Speaker 5: Like she just ask me that and then before we go to bed, she's, "What's your day look like tomorrow?"

Alex Charfen: Yep.

Speaker 5: And so she's kind of pushing that-

Alex Charfen: Well this just adds a minimal process to it-

Speaker 5: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:14:23].

Alex Charfen: ... a framework to the conversation. Cadey and I have both read the books and we've been to some seminars where there's elaborate crap you're supposed to do every day. You sit down and express gratitude and stare into each other's eyes and we tried all of that confusing stuff and it just didn't work. Tactical practicality works. And even if we're traveling, we ... When we were in, where were we when did the planning every day and then aligned?

When we were in Aspen this last time, even on vacation, we both still did our planning and still did the alignment every morning and it was one of the best vacations we've had in years, because previously we hadn't. We'd like blow off planning on vacation and then we'd realize it was Wednesday on a week where we were only going to be there until Saturday and we hadn't skied yet. And we were there on a ski trip. So now doing that every day has been a huge change.

Eddie: Thank you so much for joining us and listening to this episode of the Momentum Podcast. I hope that some of the processes that Alex and Cadey shared triggered a light bulb moment. And if you're a married entrepreneur that you go out and seek to implement these processes into your marriage and into your life. And if you want to learn the minimum effect of those processes that we use as a company that can radically change your marriage for the better, your business for the better, your life for the better, go to That's

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1 thought on “564 – Part 1: The Marriage Process”

  1. Pingback: Episode 18: Create an Alignment Process in Your Marriage | Mrs. Startup

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