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How to survive working from home with your partner

Spending more time with our partners is usually a wonderful thing, but it feels a little different when we're in lock down. And if we're both trying to work from home, it can be downright challenging!

Chances are you and your partner have very different work habits, so you'll need to figure out how to accommodate, and appreciate, each other's needs and styles.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind as you hunker down together:

1. Get organized.

Start by identifying your separate work spaces, and then make a schedule for yourself. When you have a clear schedule, it's easier to respect your partner's. Discuss whether you will take breaks or eat lunch together.

2. Communicate clearly your individual work needs and expectations.

Your needs and expectations for the workday will most likely differ. For example, you might like to have music in the background while you work, and your partner may need complete silence. Or you may like to take frequent breaks while you're working whereas your partner may prefer to work for long stretches of time without interruptions. Which brings me to the next point….

3. Be careful with interruptions.

As a couple, you're probably used to sharing exciting or significant news as soon as it happens, but this may not work while you're both working from home. For instance, you may have just had a breakthrough conversation with someone at work, and want to run into your partner's work space to share it.

But wait! It's not a good idea interrupt your partner's work without checking first to see if it's a good time for them to be interrupted. For this reason, it helps to preface any interruptions, no matter how small, with statements like, "Do you have a minute? Is this a good time to talk?"

4. Make the distinction between work time and free time as clear as possible.

We behave differently when we're working and when we're not. When the lines between working and free time get murky, it's easier for misunderstandings to happen that can create extra stress on your relationship. It helps us to remember that our partner may not want to talk to us right now because they are still working, and not because they don't value us.

5. Make time for relaxing and hanging out together

When the workday is over, make sure to schedule time for relaxation and fun, when you can shift back to relating as partners rather than work mates. This is the time to re-connect and nurture your relationship.

Try taking a few minutes every day to be completely present to the person you share your life with. Genuine connection can counteract much of the stress and anxiety that stems from being quarantined, not to mention that it makes life worthwhile!

6. Respect each other's need for alone time

Keep in mind that you may also differ in how much alone time you each need to stay centered. This is normal, but can easily bring up insecurities and disappointments if not handled well. Aim for as much clarity and care as possible when discussing these needs.

For example, "I'd like to spend some time working out in the bedroom, or chilling on my phone, but then I'd like to curl up on the couch with you and binge-watch our favorite show."

Connection Trumps the COVID-19 Blues

Let's face it, many of us are a little more on edge than usual these days, and it can be hard to keep our anxiety at bay. Rather than taking it out on each other, though, we want to make every effort to protect our most important relationships.

Making connection an essential ingredient in your day will reinforce and strengthen you as a couple. It will also help you to feel like you’re on the same team against the challenges of this unique time period of extreme togetherness. And I bet you'll get more work done too!


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