How To Survive When Your Spouse Doesn’t Believe In Your Dream

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Let’s face it – most of the people who jump into real estate investing are dreamers.  The vast majority of investors pursue this profession because at some point, for one reason or another, they bought into the idea that they could do something great through the power of real estate.

Believing in this kind of dream is an important part of every investor’s story. It acts as a springboard for this great adventure and it’s part of what drives us forward when things get difficult, but what do you do when your spouse (or your family, friends, significant other, fill-in-the-blank) doesn’t share your enthusiasm? How are you supposed to start or continue your journey with their support when they just don’t get it?

Have you ever experienced this before? There is nothing worse than having a burning desire deep within your soul to accomplish something great, only to have the most important person swoop in and blast it to pieces. This kind of rejection can be a miserable experience, but as with anything in life, the way you react to these kinds of obstacles can have a monumental impact on your future.

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Understanding Why They Don’t “See The Light”

We all know how exciting a new business idea can be, so if your spouse isn’t seeing eye-to-eye with you, we need to start by getting down to the root of where the disconnect is.

In your mind, your enthusiasm for real estate investing probably makes all the sense in the world. There is no way you aren’t going to succeed once you put your mind to it, but the fact is that this other influential figure in your life doesn’t agree, and this should cause you to start asking some questions. In this moment, keep in mind that this simple disagreement doesn’t automatically make either party “right” or “wrong”. It means that YOU need to do some digging to figure out what the sticking points are and start addressing them.

In my experience – these could be some potential reasons for the disconnect:

  • They don’t have all the facts about the business you’re trying to pursue. They’re hearing the details that (in their mind) make it sounds bad, scary, risky and foolish, but they aren’t hearing the upside benefits that make it sounds feasible, realistic, achievable and worthwhile. As a result, they are doing the math in their head and it’s not adding up. All signs are pointing to a seemingly obvious “No way.”
  • It may be that you haven’t clearly explained exactly how YOU are going to pull it off and why the odds are in your favor. When this kind of key information is left out, the recipient is literally incapable of envisioning how you (or anyone, for that matter) could ever succeed at it.
  • Perhaps they have never seen a real-life example of what your idea looks like when it has been successfully pulled off. In their minds, they can’t even imagine what “success” would look like without some clear-cut examples or a better explanation from a credible source.
  • It’s possible that that they know that they could never do it themselves and they are unknowingly projecting their self-doubt onto you. Often times this is a subconscious thought process where most people don’t even know when they’re shortchanging others for their own lack of self-confidence.
  • They don’t like the thought of you doing anything unconventional. Some people only know how to think along the lines of “established norms” (what they know and are comfortable with). Doing anything outside of this just makes them uncomfortable.

Most of these scenarios are usually coming from a fairly innocent place (however disruptive they may feel to you). In many cases, these misunderstandings and disagreements can be overcome with a bit of tactful communication, patience, time and understanding on your part.

The Most Important Reason You Should Pay Attention To

There is another fairly common reason why your spouse may not be willing to “drink the Kool Aid” and it’s something you need to think long and hard about:

  • This person knows your weaknesses (probably better than you do). They have observed you for a long time and they know how you operate. They’ve heard all the details of your plan and they have every legitimate reason to think that this is a bad idea. At some point in the past, you’ve exhibited certain behaviors and have led them to reasonably believe you simply don’t have the ___________ ( e.g. – knowledge, patience, guts, perseverance, passion, drive, education, background, fill-in-the-blank) to follow through and achieve what you’re setting out to do.

This particular reason can be uncomfortable and even unpopular to talk about. It’s a topic that doesn’t sell motivational material very well – but it is just as real and important a factor to consider. Let’s be honest about this! You’re not perfect (nobody is). We all have our weaknesses and if this business idea of yours doesn’t align with the things you’re gifted at. Who would know this better than your spouse? In their position, if they know that you’re walking into a disaster (even if you don’t see it), they owe it to you to shoot the idea down.

The reality is – this person is your partner in life. Your future is their future, so if they are fearful or hesitant about what you’re trying to do, pay close attention to this. Approach these kinds of disagreements with great humility and take special care to heed their criticism. As hard as it may be to believe this, your spouse wants what’s best for you because it’s also what’s best for them. Don’t forget that you will very likely experience the same victories and losses that come as a result of your decisions.

How to Respond to Skepticism, Rejection and Negativity

1. Don’t Argue

Arguing puts up walls and it won’t bring about the result you’re looking for. If you come across with hostility, this problem is likely to escalate and in the end, both you and they will walk away from the conversation with a great deal of negative energy, so don’t go down this road.

“When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bustling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.” – Dale Carnegie

2. Make Room For Their Skepticism and Validate Their Concerns

If you want to defuse an imminent fight or avoid a screaming match – one of the best things you can do is to show them that you understand their hesitancy. Acknowledge that they aren’t crazy for having a different perspective than you. Start with something like this:

“I understand where you’re coming from and I think your concerns are totally valid. If I were in your shoes, I might even think the same thing.”

“Those are some really important points for us to think about. Let’s keep talking about the pros and cons of us making this decision.”

“I really appreciate your honesty and it’s helpful for me to hear your skepticism. I think a lot of people in your position would feel the same way.”

These are powerful words that exhibit understanding. They give your spouse what their heart desires most, to be understood by their partner and given the room to express their thoughts without being overpowered or ignored.

3. Don’t Commit Yourself to Success

The last thing you want to do is make a promise and then not deliver. Be realistic about the fact that you’re going to give this your best shot and you want your best friend along for the adventure.

I know this can be hard – but be honest with yourself and answer these questions:

  • Is it financially wise for you to do this?
  • What is the likelihood that you will succeed vs. fail at this?
  • What will be the fallout in your worst case scenario?
  • Can your relationship survive a total loss on the money you’re investing into this venture?
  • What kind of toll will a “total failure” take on your relationship?
  • What are you sacrificing to pursue this business? (e.g. – family, friends, health, career, spiritual life)
  • Suppose this dream doesn’t materialize and you end up wasting a portion of your life in pursuit of it. Are you okay with this? Is your spouse okay with it?

There are a lot of things to consider and many times, it’s easy to interpret your spouse’s lack of support as an act of hostility but more often than not, they have your best interests in mind. If you’re really paying attention to the concerns of your spouse and being honest about the reality of the situation – you may come to the conclusion that you really shouldn’t pursue this…  and you need to allow room for this as a possible outcome.

Making Your Ultimate Decision

It’s important to distinguish that the point of this exercise is not to get your way. The point of this exercise is to do what’s best for you and your spouse. It’s about making the right decision, not just satisfying your immediate wants and desires.

Ultimately – we all have to decide what belongs on our priority list and which items will take precedence over others. These decisions can be guided by your spiritual convictions, what you value most in life, what your life’s purpose is, etc. I can’t tell you what belongs on your list because those decisions aren’t mine to make. What I can do is tell you what belongs on my list.

My spouse is at the top of my list because frankly – I don’t want to go through any part of life without her (let alone, something as huge as a business venture). When it comes to pursuing a decision that has huge implications for our time and money – this is something where I definitely want to be on the same page with my wife. This means there will come times when I’ll have to say “No” to things – even when I believe it is a “Yes” decision. It can be painful, it can be miserable – but all in all, it’s what’s best for my life (and relatively speaking, it’s not a common scenario in the first place).

One of the most enlightening lessons I’ve learned in my marriage is that about 95% of the time my spouse disagrees with my decisions (however big or small), she ends up being right. Regardless of how off-base I may feel she is in the moment, the truth is that she knows my strengths and weaknesses better than I do. There is an ocean of wisdom and valuable insight that we have access to in our loved ones. When it comes to those major, life-altering decisions, the biggest challenge is simply to listen and have an open mind. When you take the time to heed advice and be mindful of your own potential shortsightedness, you will always come out with a better, healthier result in the end – regardless of what your final decision ends up being.

Photo: Russ Allison Loar

About Author

Seth Williams

Seth Williams (@retipsterseth , G+) is an experienced land investor, commercial real estate banker and residential income property owner. He is also the Founder of - a real estate investing blog providing real world guidance for part time real estate investors.


  1. Seth,

    Thank you for a very honest and thoughtful post about an incredibly important topic. It took many long discussions with my wife before we BOTH decided that it would be good to move forward with real estate, and then ultimately, for me to move into it full time.

    Those conversations helped me grow as a person, spouse, and investor, and I commend you for recommending others undertake this crucial step. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for sharing Brandon. Although some may not want to admit it, I think it’s actually pretty unusual for there to NOT be any disagreements and/or hesitancy about moving into the real estate investing gig. It involves some pretty huge decisions, to be sure… I’m glad you and your wife were able to get through those together.

    It’s great to hear about your experience with this – thanks again for chiming in!

  3. Brandon Turner

    Hey Seth, thanks so much for this post! This is definitely one of my favorite blog posts I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s one of those areas that people glance over so easily, but it’s so important and it’s the reason many people fail. I love your line about your spouse knowing your weaknesses much more than we do. This is so true! I know my wife is supportive of my decisions for the most part, but like you said – when she isn’t, she’s usually right!

    Thanks Seth!

  4. Great article Seth. It’s nice to see you here writing for the blog.

    This topic is one that a large number of investors face; working in a business without the support of family and friends. It can be tough if you have their support, but it is definitely a much harder road if you don’t. Thanks for shedding some light on this all to common problem investors face.


    • Thanks Sharon – and thanks for all of your encouragement over the past month! I’ve really enjoyed our conversations about real estate, business & blogging. 🙂 I’ve seen some of your articles on this topic as well and I know you’ve got some great insights on the matter.

  5. Seth – welcome to BP blog! Looking forward to more from you 🙂

    Intriguing topic and very “real”. Personally, I do not believe that success is possible all around if the spouse is not on board. Sooner or later a choice will have to be made…

    • Thanks for your comment Ben – I agree with you. Success (in my mind) definitely includes a supportive spouse… I’d have a really hard time in this business if I had to fight against my loved ones to get anything done! Being in sync with one’s spouse is a vital component of a successful business.

  6. Seth,

    This is a great post that hits a real need! I agree with everything you said and wish I had this great advice years ago!!

    The only thing I would add to the list is that if God has planted the dream in your heart he will make a way for it to happen with your spouse. If your spouse is raising valid concerns and doesn’t support it then the timing is probably not right yet, keep it in prayer and wait. From personal experience I know that God will make the way when the time is right.

    • Those are great points Chery. I think a lot of our success is contingent on controlling our own impulsiveness, and simply saying “No” to our inner-child. It’s so easy for us to “want what we want, when we want it”, but it takes a lot of maturity to listen to others and respond with understanding when an important person (like our spouse) doesn’t see eye-to-eye with our wants and desires.

  7. Great article! This can be a great guide for disagreements on any issue. I think many people have preconceived notions about many topics without knowing the facts. You have to give people time and let them make their own conclusions. Forcing things never works well. My wife thought I was nuts when I started my positive attitude kick. Now she is coming around and starting to let me coach her just a little.

    • Agreed Mark! This really applies to disagreements of any kind, with almost anyone – spouses just happen to be particularly important people because their consent is so darn crucial with the decisions we make (that is, if we want to live happy and fulfilling lives). Thanks for your input buddy!

  8. Good article. There is a lot insight to take from this. The advice here is imperative for a novice investor to think about first before beginning REI. I definitely agree with what’s being said here. It doesn’t hurt to take a second look at the pros and cons since it could eventually help in the long term.

  9. Good article.

    When I was looking at going full time my wife and I definitely had several serious conversations about it what would need to happen.
    She was super supportive so it made things much easier. In reality I think she had more confidence in me than I did and didn’t give a 2nd thought of making some sacrifices that I thought might be a negotiation and planned for pushback.

    Good open communication and honest concern about each others feelings should let any couple work out these issues.

    • That’s an awesome story Shaun – I’m glad your wife was so supportive. Some people are able to get to this point without any push back, others have to do a lot more negotiation. I think the key is to understand where the spouse’s hesitancy is coming from, and then if/how a resolution can be made.

      Thanks for sharing!

  10. Thank you for sharing this Seth. I have been struggling with my spouse since the beginning. He seems to be almost blind to what I’m doing. He just doesn’t get it no matter how much I explain what I’m trying to create. He is a no debt (ever) guy and almost had a heart failure when I told him I was going to use our heloc to purchase a property at auction. I paid $90k for the property and I’m receiving $1k per month rent. I pay taxes, ins. and $60 per mth. for water, that’s it, tenant pays for everything else. I thought I was doing alright for a newbie but my husband can’t stand the fact we owe $35k on the prop. at 3.2%. We have stellar credit and my husband earns enough $ to be in a tax bracket I don’t want to be in. We own 3 properties outright and can easily pay off the heloc which is what he wants me to do. I want to grab the equity out of these properties and buy a duplex but after this last purchase, I decided (unfortunately) to wait until next year so he can calm down a bit. It drives me absolutely insane to know what I know and not be able to act on it. I’m a doer, always have been. When I have an idea, I put it into action. I believe if you don’t try, you don’t win and if I fail I’ll just get back up again. Needless to say its been very difficult to continue with joy but after reading your post, I realize I have to calm down and be more patient. Thank you for the words, they are extremely helpful to me. Keep on keepin’ on!

    • I understand where you’re coming from Carolyn. I know it can be really tough to sell someone like this on buying real estate (even if it is “good debt”). I think you’ve got the right plan though – it seems like your spouse has SOME tolerance for this kind of activity (even if it is low), so if you can stay careful and make sure your deals go well, it’s just a matter of time before you’re able to continue proving yourself and getting him comfortable with taking things to the next level. You’re doing great Carolyn, hang in there!

  11. This is a great article and I have come across it at a perfect time. I have recently started thinking about REI in a more in depth way now that my wife and I are going to be starting a family and I want to be able to spend time with my family 10-15 years from now without having to worry about the next pay check. She is very hesitant at this time and shy’s away from the conversation when I bring up the topic of REI. I plan on taking it slow and there are some great talking points in here that will be useful as discussions happen in the future. Thank you Seth for the great talking points and comments you provided throughout the article.

  12. Seth,

    I really benefited from reading you post as I am currently one week from opening a jewelry kiosk in the local mall, was just hit with the fact that my spouse doesn’t believe that I will succeed. I am a veteran of the military and for a long time while on active duty I pretty much was my own boss and thrived in my assigned position at that time, because I felt free and confident to make the right decisions and choices for myself and those under me. He is currently 7 months from retiring and is filled with the anxiety of “what next” for him. I am having a hard time valuing his request for me not to start this business, because he is insecure and uncertain of how our finances will flow once he retires. I have assured him that we will be fine, because he has 20 years military experience, a BS in Network Security, and a wife who is willing to help generate income. In the past, I admit once I left my career in the Navy, I had a hard time adjusting to life outside the military and for a brief time became depressed and needy. I say brief, because the core of my character is one of motivation, passion, and perseverance, and in a matter of months, I kicked depression out of the door and found my strength to cope with life’s ups and downs. I feel that he is holding that period of weakness in my life over my head, and refuses to believe I can do this! Although this is my first business, I spent years preparing for its opening. I wish he could just support me.

    • I can imagine the anxiety you’re probably going through Renee – and you’re certainly not the first person to go through this kind of issue. I think the key is to be honest with yourself and your situation (which is far easier said than done, believe me). It’s not always easy to decipher which of your spouse’s concerns are valid and which ones are going too far (because there is almost always SOME validity to their concerns… we just have a really hard time seeing it because of our ambition).

      Unfortunately I don’t have the answer for you – but I’d encourage you to keep an open mind and try to be flexible in finding a solution that fits with both of your dreams. The solution is usually there, but the only thing we ultimately have control of is our own actions. Hang in there Renee!

  13. For a bit of levity (and nostalgia) I put on an episode of the “The Honeymooners” where, if you know the show, pretty much every third episode Ralph Kramden is hatching some hair-brained get-rich-quick scheme and is running it by his (rightly) skeptical wife Alice for support. Watching those particular episodes definitey makes me think I probably come off sounding a little bit like Ralph to my wife. 😉

  14. Justin Densmore

    I have been on bigger pockets for a few years now and have never came across this article. Great article. I suggest hugely and argue continuously with my spouse about investing in real estate. She is stuck in her ways and would much rather see my work my whole life, invest in RRSP’S and have “the norms” as you call it, I am an avid entrepreneur and know that I have attained the knowledge to be successful in real estate investing. I have not started yet though because I have yet to attain the support of my spouse and I refuse to start without it. I hope to get to the point of understanding with her and attain her support in the next few years. Until then I am in the boat that I am sure many ambitious real estate investors are in. Thanks

    • Seth Williams

      I’m glad you found it helpful Justin. I’m not sure what your financial situation is but at this point, you might be best served by simply saving up your money for a while. It’s a lot easier to make the case for investing in real estate (from everyone’s standpoint) if you have a big chunk of change you can throw into the deal… it’s also a heck of a lot less risky than borrowing most of the money you need.

      If you’re finding yourself in a gridlock for now (and you’re not the only one who suffers from this, btw), the best way to get out of it might be to improve your cash position, which will make you much stronger financially in the end anyway.

      Best of luck to you!

  15. My wife and I had 2 businesses we started. One was a home health care agency I suggested based on my wife’s 20 plus years of being a home care aide for seniors with Alzheimer’s and the 2nd which we mutually came up with involving real estate. Shortly after getting married we started buying doubles and within 4 years we had 50 units. Both businesses did well for a while but the home care business came to an end after 12 years as our clients died off due to old age and the local population of affluent seniors dwindled. The rental business did well also for 12 years but most of our rentals were subsidized by a low-income housing authority who initially paid 95% of the tenant’s rent but decreased their percentage to less than 50% over a five year period. We were able to sell off the properties quickly without loss. Except for the 12 year period which we ran the 2 businesses, I worked in a program that helped minorities, females and small businesses get started. And I have helped many dozens of new businesses get started and most of them are doing well, but my wife never supports any idea for a business I come up with for us to pursue even when very well researched. She calls them examples of “Throwing good money after bad.” I find this heartbreaking as I am very hard working and know what businesses need to succeed. I appreciate your article but feel I am doomed to walk a pathway to despair.

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