Here are a few reasons it’s challenging to work at home with your significant other at home:
- Your partner is busy with work 8-10 hours a day, even though s/he’s at home. You may expect to see and interact with your beloved during that time because your “home time” was structured that way before the Covid shutdown. Your SO is trying to stay focused on work, which may be much harder from home due to interruptions, noise, kids, etc.
- Your work time bleeds into what “should” be home time, and your partner may get bent out of shape.
- Your “work space” spreads around the house.
- Leftover couple issues are harder to compartmentalize when you’re “at work” at home.
- It may look or seem like your partner isn’t focused on work, but isn’t adding to the household chores either.
Tips for Working at Home
- Be explicit about your plans, schedules, expectations. This means sitting down in a quiet place without distractions when you’re not tired and overwhelmed, and setting out specific guidelines. This may be things such as:
a) Set your phone alarm for Monday through Friday 15 minutes before work is over (e.g., 4:45pm) so you can wrap up and come out to your beloved at 5pm
b) Have a dinner plan in place either for the week, or each morning.
c) Plan childcare before you need it.
d) Will you come out for breaks and interact? If so, when? Will you have lunch together? If so, who will prepare it? Be very detailed and explicit in all of your planning.
e) Check in every month or so to make sure your plan is working and if you want to adjust it.
- Create a specific place to work that is as quiet as possible, your “Bubbicle”, and discuss when/if you can be interrupted (Only in an emergency? If you’re upset, etc.). If you need to talk to your partner during his/her work time, put your hand on his/her shoulder, and make eye contact. Say something such as, “I need to talk with you. Is now an okay time, or would it be better in a few minutes or half hour?”
- If you’ve had a disagreement that’s bothering you when it’s time to work, decide if you’d be better off focusing on work and chilling about the issue, or whether you need to address it to some degree first. Give your beloved the benefit of the doubt; this means that you imagine s/he has good intentions even if the impact on you is difficult. Get curious. Ask questions. Remember that the emotional brain reacts in 1/200th of a second, and your thinking brain is much slower and needs time to come online when you have an emotional reaction. Don’t talk when you feel reactive. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. Count to ten. Then respond kindly. This creates an upward cycle of communication and connection.
What ways have you found to work successfully at home?