How to Work at Home with Your Significant Other According to Relationship Therapists

In the past two years, many couples have had to quickly navigate becoming co-workers. Now, this is not ideal for many reasons, but today on the blog we are focusing on how to move forward. If you find yourself still sharing a workspace with your partner, then this is for you! We have enlisted help from relationship therapist Elizabeth Wellington, and we have to say her tips do not disappoint. So, without further ado, let’s get to the good stuff. Here’s how to work at home with your significant other!

Elizabeth Wellington, MA, LPC, Psychotherapist & Founder of Kinship Collaborative

working at home with your significant Other across the room or house can be challenging for personal, professional, and relationship reasons. We often show up differently in our job setting than we do in the comforts of our home or in our most intimate relationship. Embodying these different aspects of ourselves in different contexts or locations helps us feel like a more fully developed person. And fully inhabiting one role at a time helps you be your best in each role. When you can come home and “turn off” from work, you show up more present in your relationship, and vice versa. Segregating each role allows you to be your best self in all of your different life circumstances.

When working from home with your partner, these boundaries are totally blurred, leading to confusion for the individual and the relationship. What role are you meant to show up for at any given time? These blurred boundaries may make you feel pressured to be available to your partner, and to the relationship, throughout the workday, which can interfere with your professional responsibilities and lead to confusing expectations and tensions in the household. And ironically, being physically present for all of your roles may lead to you being less emotionally capable of fulfilling those roles.

Creating physical and emotional space from your partner is absolutely healthy and imperative in a relationship! Even in the best relationships, maintaining one’s individual identity and autonomy provides for a strong sense of self, which allows the individuals to come together as a couple with more clarity about who each partner is and what they bring to the relationship. Healthy space provides important feelings of longing in the relationship, which then creates feelings of freshness and excitement when you reunite with your partner.

Top 3 Tips:

Make space for each partner to have non-work-alone time every day.
Your partner’s scheduled alone time does not need to coincide with your scheduled alone time. Encourage and support your partner’s alone time, even if that means occasionally sacrificing your own needs or wants.

Have an honest dialogue to establish “work rules” that support each partner’s needs.
Check-in weekly about how those rules are working and do your best to respect the rules and your partner. Each partner can make explicit requests, or “rules,” and you must work as a team to implement as many of these rules as possible. When discussing your partner’s requests, prioritize “we” over “me,” and get creative to resolve conflict. For example, let’s say one partner asks the other not to talk to him in the middle of the workday about non-time-sensitive things. His partner wants to be able to communicate somehow and proposes emailing with the expectation that he will read and respond when he has a moment. By structuring the request and the resolution this way, both partners’ needs are met -one for boundaries between work and home, and the other for reasonable access and communication.

Remember that you are partners, not coworkers.
Treat each other with the utmost kindness and respect, even when you are beyond annoyed with each other. If you are triggered, name it, own it, and take responsibility for regulating yourself. Do not blame. If your partner breaks one of your “rules,” lead with forgiveness. This may not happen automatically, but after your initial anger, take a deep breath, and remember that this is an unprecedented time, and your partner is doing their best.

Let us know in the comments your thoughts on these tips on how to work from home with your significant other!