Marriage And The Music Biz

Kathy and Mark Cawley Spring HIll, Tennessee

Kathy and Mark Cawley Spring HIll, Tennessee

Aspirations, communication, commitment, goal setting, sharing stories, dreams, disappointments , small victories and balance.

My wife and I coach couples in crisis though best selling marriage author Joe Beam’s workshops. Joe is a great friend and amazing at what he does. We also coach  couples in our community and church. Coaching couples might seem to have nothing in common with the coaching I do with creatives but  I believe it does. All of the terms I listed come up in working with couplesand songwriters/artists.

I was thinking about what I might write about  over the weekend when my wife Kathy came up with marriage and the music biz. Lord knows we’ve had to deal with how a creative life can mess with relationships over the course of our own marriage.

How do you communicate to the person you love this passion you have to write or perform? What if your dream doesn’t work out the way you planned?  The girl who used to hang out at your gigs every night now has to stay up with a two year old!! What others once saw as passion and vision starts to look a little like the kid who looks out the window in class and daydreams. How do you stay 100% committed to your art and to your partner?

Most of us creative types can tend to be self-centered. Ever look into someones eyes and realize they’re “gone”? Ever try and talk to a star about something other than them for 3 minutes..ok..thats almost unfair:-) Writers are encouraged to keep their antenna up at all times. She’s telling you about her day, you just heard a title for your next song. She’s relating, you’re re-writing. Hard for any relationship to stay on track but I think the marriage of  music and the real world takes some special skill.

With couples we coach, sometimes the trouble begins when they just assume they’re on the same path. We talk with couples who’ve been married for 20 years and never talked about their aspirations. For themselves, or their marriage. Now they’re hurt or angry because things didn’t work out the way they planned. Or didn’t plan. Communication is so huge in marriage and especially with the unique pressures that come with this lifestyle. If you’re reading this you’re probably not living a life that looks like your parents and the issues you face balancing a  career in the music business with your family is not the kind of stuff they prepared you for.

For most of us it’s taken a boatload of compromise and the ability to set new goals, attainable ones . Sometimes short term sacrifice for the long term goal. For instance, in his workshop Joe talks about how years ago he and his wife Alice were at a crossroads in their marriage. He wanted to be on the road, speaking to huge audiences. In his words, he “wanted to be Elvis”. Alice loved him but wanted the family picture she grew up with. A loving husband who was at the dinner table at 6,every night. She support the Elvis in him as long as the Ward Clever won out every night.

Their solution was to move to a hub city were Joe could still tour in support of his books but be able to be home much more than when his week was made up of connecting flights. He kept following his creative dream, she continued to support his vision and still realize a version of her goal for them as a couple and as a family. Took some trial and error, compromise and work to balance their dreams but I’m happy to say it worked out.

For Kathy and I there have been years when she had to hold down the fort while I traveled to far off places to write. There have also been lean times when we had to change roles. I stayed home and changed diapers while she went to work. We compromised, re-invented but always supported a mutual goal. To write songs and raise a family. I’m happy to say that one worked out as well!

Joe always encourages couples to share their stories with each other. I ask writers to share their stories through their lyrics.

I’d love to hear your stories. What have you guys done to keep your relationship strong and still stay on your creative path?

Photo of Mark & Kathy by Tiffany Dupree Photography