Are you working from home like millions of other Americans during the pandemic? Having a home office can be stressful enough on its own, but the stress becomes even more pronounced if your spouse or partner is also working from your house. No matter how well you normally get along with your spouse, the stress of being cooped up together for weeks on end is bound to take its toll. Here are some tips on how you can both work from home without driving each other crazy.

Have Separate Spaces

Talking and falling all over each other as you conduct business is a recipe for disaster. If you’re fortunate enough to have a large house with multiple unused rooms, designate one for each of your home offices. If this isn’t the case, at least have separate desks that are not directly beside each other. If you have no choice but to be in the same room, you may want to set up a barrier such as a screen or curtain. By simply having your own space to work in, you can diffuse much of the tension.

Lay Down Ground Rules

Neither of you will know how to act around each other if you don’t talk about it. It’s crucial that you sit down and come up with some mutual ground rules during this time. Here are some examples:

  • Who can take conference/video calls and at what time (if you’re sharing a space where one’s talking disrupts the other.)
  • Which meals you plan to eat together and when you’re on your own.
  • Who will handle childcare and on what schedule if you have kids at home.
  • Who will take care of pets and errands and when.
  • A schedule for technology use if you are sharing a computer, printer, etc.
  • When interruptions are allowed and when they are not.

If you’re not sure what rules to set, think back to the last week or so and write down what the two of you have argued about. Now decide which ground rules would have helped to prevent those situations.

Give Each Other a Break

No matter how your partner acts, they are not intentionally trying to irritate or frustrate you. Now is the time to practice curiosity and empathy in your relationship and to give your partner the benefit of the doubt. There are many more stressors now than ever before in relationships. You could be arguing about money if one or both of you has taken a cut in pay, one or both of you could be experiencing anxiety about the situation or depression, you could be missing social contact and hobbies…the list goes on and on. You and your partner are on the same team and reminding yourself of this can often help you cut the other some slack.

Designate Work Hours

Does one of you get up at noon and work until 8? Does the other get up and start having noisy international calls at 6 am? It’s important to understand what a normal workday looks like for both of you. You don’t have to keep the same hours, but you do have to understand and accept each other’s schedule. You also need to both have a time when you shut work down and focus on family time. It’s a lot easier to overwork from home, which can lead to even more stress and pressure on the relationship.

If you don’t proactively take measures to reduce conflict and find a harmonious way to work from home together, it will negatively impact both of you. You’ll become more stressed, have trouble communicating effectively and, in a worst-case scenario, find yourself in a situation that leads to an early, mid or late-life divorce. Do you have any tips or strategies you’ve found useful working from home with your partner? Please leave them below!