In a recent interview with Forbes, Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and the individual investor with one of the most recognizable and respected names int he business, gave a somewhat surprising answer to the question of who the best business partner is. Rather than point to a particular company, or a specific investor, or even to a set of general qualities to consider in a business partner, Buffett provided an answer outside of the basic realm of business and investing in general. So who does Buffett consider to be the most important business partner? A spouse or life partner.

A "Huge Advantage From a Personal Standpoint"

Buffett's answer may come as a surprise to some who have tracked his influential and successful career at the helm of Berkshire for decades. He told Forbes that "it's much more fun achieving things in life with a partner, there's no question about it. It's really a huge advantage from a personal standpoint to have a wonderful partner." Buffett is 87 years old and maintains an active role in guiding his company. He has told Forbes that his first wife, Susan Buffett, was one of his "greatest teachers," and the investor ranks her alongside his mentor Benjamin Graham. "The most important person by far in that respect is your spouse," he told Bill Gates earlier this year. "I can't overemphasize how important that is."

Buffett's first wife passed away in 2004; she was the 17th richest woman in the world, and she was active as a director at Berkshire Hathaway and the president of the Buffett Foundation. Buffett remarried two years after her death, marrying longtime friend Astrid Menks.

Buffett Attributes Much of His Success to Marriage

Buffett has called marriage "the most important decision that you make." He explains, "who you marry, which is the ultimate partnership, is enormously important in determining the happiness in your life and your success, and I was lucky in that respect." A recent study by Carnegie Mellon University has found that people who have supportive spouses or life partners are "more likely to give themselves the chance to succeed."

Buffett and his first wife met when Susan was to be Buffett's youngest sister's roommate at Northwestern University. The billionaire has suggested to Forbes that Susan taught him a great deal about investing, and that she helped him to become more emotionally open with the broader world. "I just got very, very, very luck," he says. "I was a lopsided person. And it took a while, but she just stood there with a little watering can and just nourished me along and changed me."

Want to learn how to invest?

Get a free 10 week email series that will teach you how to start investing.

Delivered twice a week, straight to your inbox.