When I was a teenager, I found it so interesting that my dentist worked together with his wife, who was a hygienist. I pondered whether they ever got tired of each other or how they handled an argument at work. I wondered if I would be able to work with my future spouse.
Fast forward about twenty-five years and lo and behold I ended up working with my husband for my parents’ consulting business. Not only did we work together, but we shared an office for about a year. We literally worked five feet away from each other, with only a shared table between us.
Was it always easy? No. It took some trial and error, patience, and communication to make it work.
I stopped working when our youngest child was born, and we had an eight-year span of not working together. In February, my husband switched careers to being a full-time real estate agent, which meant we would again share a workspace.
When COVID-19 happened, we were just starting to figure out how to align and our adjust schedules to each other. Like many of you, when our kids didn’t return to school, we suddenly went from just me working at home, to both of us, to everyone being at home.
Due to COVID-19, you might find yourself sharing a workspace with your spouse as well. Here are some tips of how to work at home together:
- Learn Each Other’s Work Habits: My husband likes to take work calls on speaker phone. I like to take calls alone and do creative work in the quiet. Observe each other. Spend some time together talking about your individual work-flow preferences and how they might conflict while you’re both working at home.
- Identify Scheduled vs. Spontaneous: Are you a very scheduled person? If so, you probably don’t like distractions that take you off schedule. If you’re spontaneous, you might not mind interruptions to watch a cool video or make a run to the home improvement store to buy something together. Talk about how to handle your specific marriage combination. If you prefer a schedule and your spouse is spontaneous, create some time for scheduled spontaneity each day or week that will allow you to both get what you’d like.
- Communicate and Create Boundaries: Find creative solutions. I bought a sign that says, “Writer at work. Please do not disturb.” I hang it on the door when I need the office to myself. My husband will then take his laptop and work from the kitchen. I’ll do the same when I know he needs time in the office.
- Plan the Night Before: Every night my husband and I ask each other what the other person has planned for the next day. It’s helpful to know the other person’s schedule or expectations for the day. When I know he’s going to be gone for appointments, I try to use that time to be in the office for quiet work. If I have a late-evening call, I can ask him to take care of dinner.
- Create a Lunch and Dinner Schedule: Make a flexible schedule of who oversees lunch and/or dinner for each day and have flexible options. Will you eat lunch together every day? What menu options can you create if you will be eating at different times?
Inevitably we will have days where it’s just plain hard to work at home together. During those days, may we remember to live out the gospel in our homes. Let’s serve our spouses in love and give grace and forgiveness. This is a just a season and while there are burdens, there are also blessings too.
How are you and your spouse making it work during these work-from-home days? What blessings have you experienced?