Avoiding a Relationship Disaster

With teleworking, telecommuting, or working remotely becoming a reality for so many of us, more and more couples are finding themselves working from home. As a result of little or no preparation, unexpected stress can occur, culminating in outright conflict. But with an understanding of the basics, working in the same space can both enhance and increase the intimacy of your relationship.

The following suggestions can help both of you make a seamless transition from working away from home to working remotely:

  • Define your workspace. No matter how big or small your home, make sure that you delineate your workspace. Even if you’re sharing a small office or bedroom, use a room divider or curtains to separate the space. If you’re in separate rooms, make sure that you create boundaries using doors, signs, or even post-it notes. Once the lines are drawn, it’s imperative that both of you respect the boundaries that you’ve agreed upon.
  • Respect your partner’s work style. As with so many other areas of your lives, chances are that you and your partner will differ (at least in some ways) when it comes to work styles. You are two different people and it’s important to respect that their way of working may be very different from yours. Be patient, refrain from making assumptions, and above all, avoid criticizing.
  • Be considerate of your partner’s work schedule. Even if your partner’s schedule differs from yours, work together to come up with practical solutions that will accommodate both of you.
  • Communicate your needs and concerns in an open and specific manner.

Walking on eggshells or assuming your partner can read your mind will not work. Tip: at the beginning of each workday, write a short list of what you need from your partner.

  • Keep your work “at work.” In other words, be sure to attend to your personal relationship after your workday is over. Sometimes you might need some wind down time to transition from work to after work mode. Respect that both you and your partner need this. Giving yourself and your partner this space will often provide energy to the relationship when you reconnect.
  • Decide on the division of housework, childcare, and pet care. When discussing this issue, come up with a realistic schedule. The more detailed and specific the chore descriptions, the better the chance of getting them done in a timely, conflict-free manner.
  • Weave romantic touches into your workday. Even while you’re working, don’t lose sight of your love for one another. Be sure to put a flower on her desk, leave a loving card in her drawer, or stick a fun post-it on her laptop. Be creative!

Remember that your relationship is your priority. Work is certainly important, but it’s imperative that you and your partner respectfully navigate the complexities of this new lifestyle. As long as you both commit to open, honest, and respectful communication, you can integrate your work life into a happy, healthy, and fun experience.