How to Work From Home with Your Spouse (Without Killing Each Other)

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In this episode of the HIGH on Business Podcast, I am joined by a super special guest, my life partner, Ryan. Background check: we've been together for just over four years and living together for two-ish years. We both run our own home businesses which we are together A LOT – way more than the usual couple. We have a few years worth of experience with working from home with a significant other. Right now with COVID-19, many people are working from home and may be a little more stressed having their partner around more than they're used. Even if you love them to shreds, being together for 24/7 can have a toll on your annoyance levels.

So we have 5 tips to get your through working closer with your partner and still loving them at the end of the day.

1) Find space
This may sound hard if you’re living in a one bedroom apartment, but sometimes just having a little bit of physical space while you're both working from home is really helpful. This could mean creating a work space in the bedroom, creating a standing desk in your kitchen, or if you simply don’t have the space creating a divider if you're both sitting at the kitchen table.

In our house, we have separate office for each other but we have a rule: if you're in the common space, then it's okay to talk to each other. But sometimes one of us will decide to work in the kitchen and if that’s the case, we verbally put up that barrier by letting the other person know that we are in work mode. So communicating your spaces or physically distancing your spaces is key.

2) Create rules & boundaries
If you’re able to work in separate areas, establish what getting in touch with each other means. For example, in our house if the door is closed, that means we're working. And if we want to get in touch with each other, we will knock on the door, or text each other if we have to. If there is no response, that means we are working and it means come back later. If you’re working in the same space, it might require a bit of creativity but create some sort of sign to show you are in work mode – even simply putting headphones in is a sign that you are deep into work and shouldn’t be bothered.

We certainly didn't do this in the beginning – we would barge into each other’s space and it really put a damper on our work day and our relationship. We used to argue a bit over it and that's why we had to put this rule in place.

3) Ask permission before you “bring work home”
We all have things that go wrong in our day or frustrates us. It’s great to get it off your chest but there’s a time and a place for it. If you are barging in and talking about the thing that is upsetting you, it’s going to interrupt your partner’s day and distract them from what they’re doing. So instead, have a specific time at the end of the day to vent. Plus, this will also give you time to process what you’re upset about and you may even calm down by the end of the day after you’ve thought it all through.

4) Plan quality time together
Just because you’re working together, doesn’t mean you’re actually together. You aren’t sharing moments or laughs or quality time with one another. You’re just existing with each other. So it’s important to schedule in time where you’re spending quality time together. Obviously right now when you’re in lockdown that may be a bit hard to do but put aside specific time where you’re going to connect. Maybe it’s doing a puzzle or playing a game. If you’re allowed outside right now – go for a walk or a drive. Make dinner together or get spicy by giving each other massages.

5) Communication is key
Now more than ever, it’s so important you communicate with one another. You need to express when you’re feeling agitated or frustrated. Communicating allows you to express your feelings and fully understand where the other person is coming from. It’s important to put your ego and stubbornness aside and admit when you’re wrong so you can move on from the situation rather than having it drag on. Disagreements and different opinions are normal in any relationship, but being able to articulate and communicate that is what will help your relationship flourish.

We realize we left out a big concern that many people are dealing with right now and that’s having kids around more than they were before. We are a no kids household so we definitely don’t have any advice on how you can work from home with kids running around. If you're navigating this with kids in the mix, we understand that it's probably a lot more challenging. We're only parents to a very low maintenance cat kid so we can’t provide any advice for the human kids. We empathize for all the parents out there and hope you’re managing.

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