Real estate investing is very rewarding. But the last thing you want to happen is to have all that success and lose one of the most valuable assets you have—your relationship with your spouse.

Throughout the last five years, my husband Chris and I have worked together in different real estate investing businesses: flipping, wholesaling, single-family and multifamily rentals, providing passive investors with multifamily investments (syndications/funds), and a wealth and passive-income coaching business.

There were a lot of challenges, but the great news is we’re still together and have grown a lot as a couple and as business partners. But there were a lot of challenges along the way. Here are three tips I wish I knew seven years ago when we first started as business partners in the real estate investing space:

Tip 1: Be clear on what role you’re in. This can change every year.

There are three different roles spouse partners typically fulfill when it comes to real estate investing:

  • The owner spouse: They are not active in the business, they may have a very small active role, but not always. They may or may not have much of an interest in the business.
  • The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) spouse: They work in the business and primarily oversee driving sales, growing revenue, and attracting new talent to grow the business.
  • The Chief Operations Officer (COO) spouse: They work in the business and are primarily in charge of keeping everything organized and fulfilled.

A spouse may start in one of these three roles and transition in and out of them.

When my husband and I first started in real estate investing, we had no idea what we were doing. Literally. We had never bought a house before, never started a business before, and were not in management positions in our previous careers. We did, however, both want to create financial freedom and time freedom at an early age and were willing to do what it took to get there as soon as possible.

It took us three years to create enough passive income to cover our needs, wants and more.

Because we didn’t know what those three “spouse partner roles” were, we had challenging years where we didn’t know how to work together well, and those challenges inevitably bled into our relationship as a couple.

Sometimes we would unknowingly sit in ALL three of the seats, and this resulted in us stepping on each other’s toes, or repeating the same work, which led to lack of progress, that then resulted to frustrations.

If we had just clarified what seat each of us were sitting in, we would have reached our goals faster and would’ve had a healthier marriage.

When we finally figured out which seat each of us wanted to and were equipped to sit in, we realized that both of us had very similar skillsets and wanted to sit in the same seat. But that doesn’t work. So, we asked some of our trusted mentors and advisors who told us that perhaps it would be best if we didn’t work in the same business. We could instead divide and conquer and have one of us work on another business.

And that’s what we did. In the active house-flipping business, I ended up sitting in the CEO/COO seats, while Chris sat in the “owner seat.”

In the multifamily investing business, Chris ended up sitting in the CEO/COO seats, while I sat in the “owner seat.”

We both still had small active roles in both businesses but having one person completely in charge and responsible allowed us stay out of each other’s way and stop doing the same work twice.

This worked well and allowed us to grow both businesses much more effectively. After just a few short years, our multifamily business now has over 2,200 units, and our active flipping business flipped and wholesaled over 500 houses.

Tip 2: Know each other’s love languages and use it to your advantage

Apart from dividing and conquering, one of the other things that really helped us become even stronger partners is understanding each other’s Love Languages (from the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman). Each person has a certain way they receive love, that is their love language. That usually is also how they end up showing their love.

Because we are both business partners and life partners, it was even more important that we had a deeper understanding of each other.

When we started out in business, the first year was great, we made a lot of progress, and were very focused. During the second year though, our relationship started suffering. At first, we didn’t realize why. We were working 80-hour weeks (or more), but we both enjoyed what we did, and the success in real estate was very rewarding. So, we couldn’t quite put our finger on why our marriage was suffering.

As hard as it is to say, we just didn’t feel like we loved each other. We would get annoyed at each other for the smallest things.

Because we were working 80-hour weeks in the business, we had some time for each other, but not a lot.

Chris’s love language is quality time. He wanted to spend time with me to feel love and show love.

Mine is Acts of Service. I want someone to do something for me to feel love, and I show love by doing things for that person.

When we weren’t working so much, we had time to do “all” the love languages for each other. But when we were strapped for time, we just defaulted to our primary love language.

So, I would do things for Chris, while Chris spent time with me. The problem was, since I kept doing things for Chris, that meant I wouldn’t do it with him. So he didn’t feel loved. And Chris would do things with me, which meant he couldn’t do things for me, and I didn’t feel loved.

We had done this for a year, and we both didn’t feel loved at all. Even though we still liked and respected each other deeply. Once we found out what was happening, we became aware of how we were making the other person feel unloved and started consciously showing love the way the other person wanted to receive it.

This changed everything. Within just a few weeks, we started feeling more loved, we were happier, and our businesses thrived even more.

You can take the short love language quiz on The Five Love Languages site.

Tip 3: Make time for your spouse just like you do for your business.

Several years into our real estate businesses, we had great systems and processes. We would have daily huddles with our teams, one-on-one meetings with direct reports, weekly leadership meetings, quarterly planning sessions and annual planning sessions. It helped our businesses grow and thrive.

But one day, someone said this, and it stung.

“Do you put as much effort into your marriage and family as you do your business?”

And we realized we hadn’t.

Our business was better run than our family!

From then on, we started doing a few things differently.

We started doing weekly date nights, the rule was we could not talk about business. We just talk about our personal goals, our marriage goals, and family goals. That helps us have a deeper connection as a couple again, not just as business partners.

We also started adding quarterly retreats; we go away for 3-7 days, reflect on what went well last quarter, what didn’t go as well, and change and redirect our goals for the future.

Once a year, we go on an annual sabbatical. At first this was a week trip, but now it’s a 3–6-week trip. We spend time with each other, family, and friends. And it helps keep us grounded and remind us why we work so hard in business to begin with.

And then we started doing daily huddles. Where we quickly talk to each other about our days, so we know how to best support each other.

Our relationship with our spouse is the most important relationship we have. Sometimes, though, it can suffer because we put so much time and effort into our real estate business. You can be successful in business, in marriage, family and life. You don’t have to pick one. But it takes putting in equal work in all those areas to do so.

Through Wealth Gym, and creating free content for her YouTube channel Ask Arianne, where she shares what she’s learned about money and real estate investing, she aims to empower one million people achieve time and financial freedom so they can live an abundant life with their families, and have the time and resources to share their unique passion and purpose with the world.

  • Editorial Staff

    We believe in the positive, life-changing impact of real estate investing. Our mission is to help investors achieve their goals to build wealth, better manage time, and live a life full of purpose.

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