It's easy to get so swept up in the chase of securing deals that we can end up neglecting those closest to us.
This guide will talk you through ways you can ensure your significant other(s) always know they are your absolute priority, even when work takes up most of your time and focus.
Because what's the point of succeeding in real estate if it comes at the cost of your relationships with the ones you love most?
I don't have stats to back this up, but based on observational experience during 20 years in the industry, I would suggest the divorce rate for marriages involving a real estate salesperson would be well above average.
Who wants to be a real estate widow?
I feel for all the spouses, partners, kids and friends who have to put up with being attached to a crazy real estate lifestyle. There aren't many jobs that involve constant phone calls at all hours of the day (especially during family dinners), random appointments on the weekend often made at short notice, and the emotional rollercoaster of an unreliable income stream.
My wife used to constantly tease me about saying I'll be home at 6 pm, then walking through the door at 8 pm after a listing appointment went later than expected. It was a weekly occurrence.
Imagine being a real estate spouse - never knowing when you'll be home? Unable to call because you're in an appointment where you can't answer the phone. Imagine being on your own every single Sunday while your partner works, while other couples enjoy all the fun of a family weekend together.
How do you plan any meaningful family time around a schedule like that?
It's a tough gig and one that shouldn't be underappreciated. You might be the one out there grinding, trying to put food on the table, but spare a thought for those closest to you who are sitting at home with no idea when they can expect you to turn up.
I learned early on that behind most successful real estate salespeople is a very understanding and supportive spouse. That person who picks you up whenever a deal crashes, high-fives you after a sale, and puts up with all the interruptions, stress, and emotional low points (not to mention the lonely Sundays).
So, how do we show our partners how much we love them, while still operating at a high level, working with all the demands of a career in real estate?
Tips / Rules for a thriving relationship
Turn your f*ckn phone off!
No matter what kind of deal you are waiting on, there is basically nothing in real estate that can't wait 1 hour, especially outside normal business hours.
Even if you don't answer your phone, the sound of it ringing is often enough to cause stress for those closest to you, especially if you have only just arrived home. It also causes you stress, as you will wonder what's going wrong until you return the call. As a result, you won't be mentally present when it matters most.
Rule 1: Turn off your phone when you get home, before you walk in the door. Leave it off for at least 1 hour.
Give your family your undivided attention when they first see you. Ask them about their day and listen, don't just jump into some story about your deal that crashed or the other agent that screwed you over. This time is about your family, not you.
If you live alone, give that undivided attention to your dog, or to yourself, or call a family member or friend. Have some downtime, you deserve it.
Rule 2: Turn your phone off at the dinner table.
I know you want to provide an exceptional level of service. But your family hasn't seen you all day and they deserve your high level of service and focus more than anyone.
Rule 3: Stop taking appointments on Saturdays.
Are you ready to step up to the big leagues and take your life back? Stop booking appointments on Saturdays (or Sundays), whichever one suits your business. Family should come first for at least half of your weekend.
I used to get asked to do appointments on a Saturday every week, and I would always respond this way:
"Sorry, I am completely booked up on Saturday, but I can do 11 am or 4 pm on Sunday, or 4 pm Monday. Which of those would suit you best?
You don't need to explain that what you are 'booked up' with is family time. For more advice on setting appointments that suit your schedule, check out this guide:
Rule 4: Set realistic expectations
When your partner asks 'when you will be home?' don't give them the low-end estimate. Don't overpromise and under-deliver. Instead, set realistic expectations. Use words like:
"I've got an appraisal at 4 pm. It's a first visit so it will probably only take 30 mins, but if they want to sign up on the spot it could take up to 2 hours. Hopefully, it's a short one because I can't wait to see you tonight. Would you be keen to watch a movie together when I get home?"
Upping the romance
Now it's time for the good stuff - making sure your significant other knows they come first, even if you're working crazy hours.
But first, let's clear up a few common misconceptions:
Tip 1: It's not about presents
Realise that what your partner wants is YOU. They want your undivided attention on a regular basis, not a nice piece of jewellery at the end of a good quarter. They want to feel wanted, they want to feel loved. It's all good and well having lots of money in the bank (no guarantee in real estate) but what good is money if you have no freedom to enjoy it? Or no one to enjoy it with?
Tip 2: It's not about holidays, either.
One week in Fiji doesn't make up for a year of neglect.
Tip 3: If you don't date your spouse, someone else will.
I suggest you print that line above and post it above your desk. Partners that don't feel loved won't wait around forever for you to sort your shit out. We all need love in our lives. And if someone else starts showing them the attention that they haven't had from you in years, then all I can say is... look out.
Now for some positive actions...
Little ways to show your partner you love them
- Be late to work one morning. Show your family they come first by being the last one to leave the house. Use the opportunity to make breakfast for your family, walk the kids to school, walk the dog, do some housework, or have a sleep-in with your spouse.
- Leave a hand-written love note at home. Pop home during the day and leave a note on the bench saying how much you love them, how you miss them and how you can't wait to be home. You can mix this up too - one day, leave the note under their pillow, or in their car, or in their bag. You can switch up the text by reminding them about a quality you love. I.e. "I love the way you say good morning to the kids each day, it makes me so happy." or "Your smile lifts me up every single day."
- Send them a text. While you're waiting outside an appointment, don't jump on bookface. Instead, send your partner a quick message saying something like "You mean the world to me. I'm so lucky to be yours."
- Send them a song. Sometimes it's hard to find the words to say how you really feel. Instead, send your partner a song. To make this easy for you, I have prepared a Spotify playlist called 'Songs to send your lover'. It's got a wide range of music from every decade and genre, so there is something for everyone. Whatever you do - don't send them the whole playlist!! Drip feed it, one song a week.
- Sexting. I can't help you with script templates for this one, except to say that nothing beats sending your significant other a random text during the day that starts: "I can't wait to get you all to myself tonight and....
You get the idea :) Or at least, I hope you do.
- Surprise them at work. Do you know what's better than booking a lunch date that you'll probably reschedule when you get busy? Just turn up to your partner's work during the day, preferably with some food from their favourite café or bakery. Drop it off if they are busy, or go for a picnic somewhere.
- Set up a surprise picnic. Let's say your family all get home at 3:30 pm. You have appointments from 3 - 6 pm but you have a gap from 1 - 3 pm. Why not go buy a bunch of their favourite foods and set up a surprise picnic at home, with some music playing so they get a cool surprise when they walk in the door.
Are you starting to notice a theme here?
Nothing says "I love you" like unprompted communication that shows your partner you are thinking of them, even when you are apart. Find little ways to do this every day if you can.
The best kind of romance is always the unexpected kind.
If you think this sounds soppy, then I'm here to tell you soppy works. And if you don't want to do it, that's cool too, but remember tip 3:
If you don't date your spouse, someone else will.
What about friends, kids, and siblings?
While these tips are focussed on showing your life partner you love them, you can adapt them for the rest of your nearest and dearest. You can surprise one of your kids or a friend by taking them out to lunch during the week, or dropping off their favourite food. You can text them randomly to tell them you are thinking of them. You can take a morning off to spend time with them.
Most importantly, you can turn off your phone when you're together.
What about holidays? And date nights?
I wanted to focus this article on little things you can do that don't cost any money. Showing love and appreciation is a daily practice, not something you Band-Aid with a once-a-month date night or annual tropical holiday. Although those things are great, too!
Next step: Learn your partner's love language.
If you haven't heard of the five love languages then I am here to tell you it's an absolute game changer. It empowers you with an understanding of the way those closest to you want to show and receive love.
You can take the quiz to find out your love language here. But better still, have your partner take the quiz. Show them love the way they desire it.