How To Work From Home Without Killing Your Spouse!

It's impossible. Just kidding! Working from home with your spouse can feel especially stressful. This person you love so much over morning coffee is also the person you want to kill by the end of the day. Here are 4 tips to keep the peace at home and to go on loving your partner instead of being charged with murder *wink*

Our work from home backstory:

A few years ago my husband Kevin started working freelance which means that he works from home about 50-60% off of the time.

The first few months of us both working from home were rough. We have different work & sleep schedules that had benefited our relationship in the past. BUT working from home meant that our schedules clashed. I wanted to hang with him while I was on my lunch break but he was just getting knee-deep in work. He'd still be working in his office (our bedroom) when I was ready to go to bed.

Over time we talked through what was hard for both us and what we both needed to be successful working from home. Here's what worked for us!

1. MOST IMPORTANT: Have an "at work" signal

This signal could be a closed office/bedroom door, your laptop open on the dining room table, or even a sign that says "I'm At Work" hah! If your partner was at their place of business you wouldn't call to chat every 10-15 minutes or ask them 4 times a day what they want for dinner. When your partner uses their "at work" signal you know to only interact with them when necessary. 

Our "at work" signal is a closed door. Kevin works from a desk in our bedroom and I used to wander in and chat with him or he'd come into my office while I was working. Being interrupted would frustrate us, feelings would get hurt, and then we'd both feel bad. Eventually, we worked out this signal that we both use when we're working.

This has been the single best choice we've made to keep us sane while working in a house that's 960 square feet.

And here are some statistics: since we started this "at work" signal there have been 0 deaths in our home (if you don't count ants!).

2. Be honest about your needs & hear the needs of your partner

This is the second most important tip I can give you (which is why it's second *wink*). Our work environment needs can be very different than our partners. Once you start working from home you might notice things that make you frustrated or want to lash out. Take notice of what events are causing those feelings.

It's likely that you're used to a different environment when working at an office and are used to how things happened in that space. Your partner might like to take lots of breaks and you might like to power through several hours of work at a time. You might need total silence to work and your partner might like to crank up the music (I'm looking at YOU, Kevin!).

Once you start to notice these things sit down and kindly discuss them with your partner. Explain what you need for your workday and listen to what they need as well. Find a middle ground where both of you get what you need and support each other in your best working from home energy!

3. Meal planning/share cooking duties

Tired of having the "what are we having for dinner" question in the middle of the day and then being so tired after work that you eat chips & salsa for dinner AGAIN? Or ending the day with a disagreement about dinner only to go to bed starving and frustrated?

Even generally planning meals will be helpful while you're working from home. Sit down Saturday or Sunday night and plan roughly what your dinners will be and who will be preparing them.

Kevin and I share the cooking duties pretty evenly. Generally, if one of us cooks then the other does the dishes (we don't have a dishwasher because our house is so our hands are the dishwasher - hah!). Though, if either of us has a big project that's taking up most of our time then the other picks up the slack by preparing the meals and doing the dishes for a while.

Which leads me to my last tip...

4. It's the little things

It really is the little things, the little kindnesses that keep your partner feeling loved. Making coffee? Make an extra cup for your person. Feeling extra grateful for them? Write them a note and leave it on their keyboard. Are they feeling drained? Plan dinner and include some candlelight and soft music. Think of your partner throughout the day and uplift them in any way that feels right for them.

The amount of time you'll be together while working from home will be increased but not all of it will be quality time. Make the most of in-between moments (a coffee break or a walk outside) and make sure you find some of that together time after work hours. It's those little things that will keep you feeling close to each other.

Final thoughts:

Give yourself grace as you figure this out together. It may take a few weeks before you truly figure out what works best for both of you. Trial and error is part of the game. Here's a blog I wrote about my tips to Make Working From Home Work For You that might help you personally while you navigate this new frontier of working from home!

Let me know what's worked for you working from home with your spouse/partner or even kids! Give your best tips below!

I love you and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it,


1 comment

  • Jacob M.

    Tip #5: Invent an imaginary “co-worker” to blame things on. “Cheryl left a half-full coffee cup in the bathroom again!” or “Bob left all the sandwich fixing out after making himself lunch” – that way you can laugh about your co-worker’s antics, and then one of you can take responsiblity and clean up “their” mess.

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