You know what they say about opinions…but here’s mine anyway. I think it is really commendable that you are reaching out for guidance on this, and you obviously want to do what is in the best interest of all involved. Hopefully, you came here truly looking for a variety of opinions to better inform your (what should be a joint) decision, and not merely ones that support your own.
It is great you are building a relationship with your partner, and it sounds like you see a future together. You are role-modeling for your daughters both as a parent and as they now enter prime opposite-parent, future-partner molding time. They watch everything and miss nothing–no pressure…
With that said, you are seriously downplaying at least two things–the amount of work pre-teen girls require (I promise they act differently when you aren’t there), and the amount of work required to host and clean a small studio. I have a studio a bit smaller than yours (600 sq ft), and I have had a pre-teen daughter with a partner-parent situation. Oh, and I also traveled internationally for business–sometimes for three weeks at a time. I traveled only once or twice a quarter, but it was a lot for our little family, and it took a toll on everyone.
As for my studio, it takes a minimum of 2.5-3 hours to turn over–often times it takes four hours. That doesn’t include all of the “side work” involved in day-to-day hosting. This isn’t a “Well, she’s there anyway, so what’s the big deal?” type of thing. The cleaning fairy doesn’t come in after the guests, vacuum, and “ta-da”, everything is squeaky clean. FYI–Bathrooms are GROSS in general, no matter how lovely your guests are. Hosting is a lot of work, and it is a business. You want your partner to have motivation and feel supported to make her hosting challenge a success.
As for my soon-to-be teenager (my daughter was 10 at the time), she would pull stuff with my partner that she wouldn’t dream of pulling with me. I thought he exaggerated…he didn’t. Kids test. Kids get older. They become more clever, more skilled, more crafty. They test more. Yes, even my angel…and both of yours. You want your partner to always feel you have her back–100%–no wavering. You want her to have motivation and feel supported to make her parenting challenge a success.
I would be soooooo thankful (as I am sure you are) that I could count on my partner to take my kids off of my worry plate while I travel for business. It sounds as though she’s also taking care of the household chores. Does she cook and run the kids to their events while you are away? Does she help with homework and run interference with the school and parents of friends/activities?
Here’s what I would do. If some form of studio income (LTR or STR) isn’t critical to your household income, I would let her have at the Airbnb biz 100%, perhaps for a trial period of six months. Make a date to re-evaluate how you are both feeling I predict her spirits will lift; she will feel more invested in the property, the household, and more satisfied in general. If some studio income is needed to make the base household run, work out an equitable rent she can pay you, or do the 50/50 thing.
In my household, the money for the rental is designated for household improvements and fun things–eating out, entertainment, trips, etc… I did not want to be dependent on the carriage house income for day-to-day bills. We live in a much smaller house to make that work, but I can take time off if I get burnt out (and you do), etc… Maybe you could do this at some point together. Use it to work towards family vacations, school trips, band camp, a honeymoon…
I may have missed it, and I apologize if I did. You mentioned she is a realtor. Does she contribute to the household income currently? Do you have your girls full-time, and if so, does their mom help out? Finances with loved ones is a real sticky subject, but you must learn how to broach it with your partner now if you hope to have smooth sailing in the future. If discussions between the two of you are still leaving questions or resentments, seek out the assistance of a coach or therapist. It could just be a one or two visit type of deal. Don’t let things fester between the two of you. Healthy people seek help. Best of luck to you and yours!