7 Tips for Successfully Working with Your Spouse

Published on December 26, 2011

“My spouse is joining me in the business.”

I am hearing this phrase more and more these days. With the job market making it more challenging for talented people to find suitable employment and with an increasing number of people taking early retirement, real estate sales frequently becomes a natural career choice for spouses of agents already in the business.

Whether you are new to working together or have been doing it for years, you know that it isn’t always easy. The realities of our opposites become glaringly obvious when we spend 24 hours a day 7 days a week with someone. When stress sets in those opposites that were once endearing now become major frustrations. And let’s face it, stress can be a fairly frequent reality in real estate.

When it comes to a career where spouses can each thrive, real estate is perfect. That is if the two can figure out how to effectively dance together in the business. Just like any dance, when it’s new people have a tendency to step on each other’s toes from time to time. And when one partner has been in the business a while and is being joined by their newly licensed spouse, there is virtually always a little added tension. Let’s face it, we get set in our ways and creating a space for our new business partner is sometimes trying.

Here are a few tools, exercises, and things to consider when joining forces in business:

  • Create lists of each person’s strengths. You can do this together by listing your own strengths and then helping the other person by adding to theirs if they missed any that you see in them. Behavioral assessments such as the DISC are excellent tools to help each other gain better insight into natural behavioral traits as well.
  • Make a list of the tasks associated with running your business. This will be a fairly extensive list and you will want to include things that aren’t currently being done that would benefit the business if they were being done. Share your list with your spouse and see where the tasks match up with their strengths. (Always better to let them self-discover that they are a match rather than "assigning" a task).
  • Determine what role each person will play in running the business. Together, you can match up the list of strengths with the task list from #2 in order to determine who is best suited to handle certain tasks. My experience is that it always works better to function as business PARTNERS rather than one person working FOR the other regardless of the roles each play.
  • There are two great books for all couples to read whether you are in business together or not which will help you better communicate and appreciate each others' differences. 5 Languages of Love by Gary Chapman and His Needs Her Needs by Willard Harley.
  • Be open to feedback. A fresh set of eyes can sometimes bring to light new or more efficient ways of handling current business flow (especially when they come from another industry). When your newly licensed spouse points out an area that could be improved upon, be open to suggestions.
  • As the new guy or girl on the block, communicate insights from a place of curiosity and contribution. If you were in a managerial or executive role in a former career, it will feel natural to come into your new role and want to exercise your talent at creating a well-oiled machine. You may want to gradually introduce areas for improvement balanced with accolades for areas that are running effectively and efficiently already. “Have you ever considered _______?” or “Would there be any benefit in _______?”
  • Set personal and professional boundaries. Now that you are both working “in the business” you will want to create time where you turn the business off and focus on personal interests and hobbies. Based on your job role, you may not necessarily have the same schedule, so think about what situations or occasions you prefer to make off limits for work related topics. Plan your days OFF and arrange for someone to cover calls and handle business on those days so you can focus entirely on your relationship. Regular vacations are a must, even if they are only for a weekend.

Being in business with your spouse can be a blessing when it works.  Take time to communicate your needs, appreciate each other’s strengths, and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

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Nikki and Chris Buckelew are recognized international real estate coaches, trainers, and speakers. Their specialty is coaching and consulting real estate agents and brokers toward creating highly profitable businesses and amazingly successful lives.  Clients who hire Nikki and Chris are often seeking assistance in increasing their profitability without sacrificing their health, relationships, and core values. For more information visit www.NikkiandChris.com.

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