Working remotely is more than a growing trend now. With employers shutting down offices due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, many people are finding that they will be working from home, at least temporarily. For some, the chance to telecommute brings the same excitement they felt as children when seeing their school listed as closed for a snow day. For others however, even the thought of working from home can fill them with anxiety. Why? Because their spouse also works from home.
From a practical standpoint, if you and your spouse are used to having 8 to 10 hours of time away each day, and now find yourself together all day, it can create tension in even the healthiest of relationships. In fact, The Global Times recently reported that Chinese couples forced into isolation due to COVID-19 are already experiencing an increased rate of divorce. Working from home however, doesn’t need to spell trouble for your marriage. If you and your spouse both work from home, here are some simple and practical ideas to help make it a positive experience.
Designate Your Workspace
If possible, designate separate work areas, ideally in different rooms. Try to choose rooms that aren’t high traffic areas like the kitchen or family room, so you can minimize distractions and avoid confrontation. A home office, bedroom, or guest room are all excellent options for a distraction-free workspace. Treat your home workspace just like you would treat a traditional office; remind your family not to interrupt you while you are working unless it is an emergency. Provide your spouse with the same level of respect when they are working. My husband and I both work from home. If I need to speak with John, I send him a text or email. We respect each other’s work space.
Create Office Hours
One of the simplest and most effective ways to make telecommuting work for you and your marriage is by creating a work schedule and then sticking to it. Create a realistic work schedule (or use the schedule required by your employer) and share it with your spouse so they know when you are working and to avoid all unnecessary interruptions. Likewise, your spouse should do the same. Being intentional about giving each other space during the work day will help you differentiate your work life from your personal life and make your time together all the more special.
Be Present During Family Time
One of the most challenging aspects of working from home is being able to separate work and family life. Working from home can cause a serious work-life imbalance where all hours become work hours and family time becomes the casualty. To make working from home a positive for your marriage and your family, you must be able to set healthy boundaries. Step away from that big work project and be present and in the moment during family time. This will show your spouse and children you value your time with them.
One tip is to use what would have been your normal commute time as extra family time. Don’t just fire up the laptop. Start your day as a family. Hectic mornings where everyone is frantically rushing to get out the door are gone. Give yourself permission to slow down. I have my sons home right now and we have been starting our day as a family with a morning bible study followed by a walk in nature. It’s been a wonderful way to adapt to this new normal.
Done well, telecommuting can be a very positive experience for your marriage. If you and your spouse both work from home, I’d love to hear from you! What do you love best about working from home with your spouse? What are your secrets to success?
Contact us for information on how The Marriage Place can help you strengthen your relationship. If you are struggling to make your relationship work, we offer online coaching to meet your virtual needs.