How to Work at Home Without Driving Your Spouse Nuts

By Dan Rafter on 6 July 2015 1 comment

Your spouse has just accepted a work-from-home job. You already have one.

And while this work arrangement comes with plenty of perks — no more commutes, no more sneaky text messages to your spouse while you're hiding from your boss — it also comes with plenty of potential pitfalls.

Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to make this unusual working arrangement succeed. If you're careful, you won't want to kill your spouse, either.

1. Respect Each Other's Work

If your spouse is working in the kitchen, it's easy to stroll in and start chatting about current events, the neighbor's barking dog, or your niece's upcoming ballet recital. But remember, your spouse has work to do. Don't keep interrupting.

And if your spouse is the one doing the interrupting? Give a polite, but firm, reminder that you need to wrap up an assignment and that you don't have time for chit-chat.

Yes, one of the benefits of working from home with your spouse is that you can take those little breaks in the day with the person you loved enough to marry. But too many of these breaks can start to feel intrusive.

2. Turn the Work Day Off

When both you and your spouse work from home, it can be easy to keep working... all night long. After all, you both probably have deadlines that are looming. And if you work on a freelance basis, you might be tempted to take on more work than you can handle during a typical working day.

But be careful: If both you and your spouse spend all of your hours working, you'll both run the risk of becoming deadly dull. Even worse, you'll be spending long hours in the same house without actually spending quality, personal time together.

Every relationship needs quality alone time between spouses. Don't let an inability to shut off the working day prevent you and your spouse from making this time.

3. Remember That Sweatpants Aren't Flattering

It's tempting when you both work from home to spend all day in your pajamas or sweatpants. Yes, this is comfortable. But resist the urge. Wear day-time clothes during day-time hours. This means, at a minimum, jeans or shorts.

If you don't have to commute to an office, you don't have to wear a suit. But wearing sweatpants or pajamas every day shows your spouse that you don't care enough about his or her opinion to make an effort. Ditch the sweatpants once the working day begins.

4. Leave the House

You might lose track of how much time you and your spouse spend in the home if you're both working from it. Entire days can go by when the only time you leave the house is to drop your kid off at soccer practice or when you need a quick hit of Starbucks.

Staying in the house all day cuts you off from the community. It makes you boring. And, worst of all, it might make you sick of your spouse. If your spouse is the person you spend 90% of your time with? You might actually run out of things to talk about, especially if you're not leaving the house and interacting with the rest of the world.

So make sure to plan regular trips to the gym, morning walks, bike rides, or dinners out. You wouldn't spend every waking moment in an office building. Why would you when your home has become your office?

5. Don't Fill Your Home With Papers, Reports, and Computers

When both you and your spouse work from home, your home is actually pulling double duty: It's both a home and an office. Make sure, then, that your home doesn't only look like an office.

It's easy when both you and your spouse work from your residence to litter it with papers, reports, briefcases, laptops, and tablets. Just look at your kitchen table: Does it look like a messy desk that you'd see in a cubicle?

If so, it's time to clean up. Make sure that when the working day ends, you and your spouse both pick up your work supplies and store them out of sight. If your home always looks like an office, you're both more likely to work long hours into the evening night after night.

How do you handle working from home with your significant other?

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Guest's picture

This is a great article! My husband and I are both guilty of committing these work at home mistakes. I personally am guilty of not ditching the pajamas all day. My husband has complained about this. Though at first, I objected to his complaints. After some reflection, I realized that he had a point. It's important to make sure your spouse feels like they are someone special and worth getting dressed up for. On the flip side, he is guilty of coming to talk to me or ask for things at any time. It breaks up my concentration and makes the task at hand take longer to complete. I'm going to use the article as the basis for developing a work at home agreement :)