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How to Best Work at Home With Your Spouse

by Guest Contributor on August 30, 2011

Couple at SunsetWorking with your spouse is certainly not for everyone, but for those who do – I’m sure we’ve got lots of stories to share.

I’ve worked side by side next to my husband with our home based business for over seven years. We first started working together long distance 3 years before we got married.

It’s quite the romantic movie story when told… that is if you leave out all the frustrations, irritations and annoyances that come along with it.

However, despite all the bad times, I have to admit, I would do it all over again – except I would prefer to have known some of the tips and suggestions I’m including in this article.

Leave your personal issues at the door

This is practiced in the workplace and should be no different when working from home. Preventing personal and emotional issues from affecting our attitudes at work does not always come easy – and practicing it at home is even harder.

The other evening, my husband was programming on his computer (he’s a programmer) and wanted to show me what he had done. Somehow, in conversation, he mentioned getting off the phone with his mother, and I was going to bring up the topic about a trip to visit his relatives. Personally I was not certain if this trip was a good idea, and was going to ask him if he thought we should still go.

The words were on the tip of my tongue and I wisely decided this distraction from the task at hand. I decided to wait and approach the matter after we were done working.

Learning to separate business from personal takes time and discipline, but the more you practice, the easier it gets. I promise.

Understand what “work mode” is

When I work, I tend to get extremely focused and rather serious. My husband, on the other hand, is a jovial kind of guy, cracking jokes and more light-hearted. Even to this day, I still have to tell him I’m in “work mode” if I don’t react the way he expects me to his comment.

Let me explain.

We were working at our desks and he started talking about something non-work related. I was deep in thought with an article I was writing. He finally asked me if I was upset. When I said, “Oh sorry – I’m just in work mode,” he was fine and went on with whatever he was working on realizing it was nothing personal – I was in “work mode.”

Do not simply learn what your work mode is, but what your spouse’s is as well. Understanding this will help your communication greatly and avoid misreading each other’s behaviors.

Don’t forget the personal time

One of the issues my husband and I had to work out early on was taking personal time for ourselves. People don’t really understand this because they think working with your husband 24/7 is the same as spending time with him. Ummm… not exactly.

Especially when dealing with the workaholic couple, this can be very difficult to do, but your marriage should still be priority. You need to learn balance between work life and personal life. You never want to have that day come when you look at your favorite man and think, “I don’t feel like we’re married anymore.”

There was one time in particular that I began to feel this distance. We decided to just get out of the office, get some coffee and chill out for however long we wanted. Three hours later I felt better and was ready to get back to work.

I was amazed at how quickly I satisfied my craving for personal time after days of that terrible nagging feeling.

Taking time to nourish your relationship will mean different things to different people. But one of the joys of working with your spouse is exactly that – working with the one you love. Never take advantage of that.

My experiences certainly don’t stop here. But, just like I did, you must have a determination to weather the storms, viewing every conflict as an opportunity to learn.

Working at home with your spouse can reap many rewards for your relationship as you both work through struggles and overcome what many consider to be an impossible working environment.

Image: othermaciej via Flickr, Creative Commons

Liz Krause is wife to the man of her dreams and recently had to accept a job working with an outside company as a Microsoft Lync SIP Trunk service provider due to the economy’s effect on their home business. However, she still works side by side part-time with her husband every evening and weekend. She plans on returning to work at home full time once her side business expands.

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