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How to Keep Your Relationship Healthy While Working from Home with Your Partner

While many of us are grateful for the extra time with our loved ones at home, even those who are very close have probably come to realize one simple truth: humans aren’t meant to spend all day, every day, with each other. No matter how much we care for our friends, family, or significant other, everyone needs their personal space. It’s a part of human nature. So, if you find yourself getting upset with your quarantine partner, it’s not unusual.

“Life is meant to be lived outside, not stuck in quarantine,” says marriage and family therapist Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D. “This basic idea is at the root of the anger, frustration, anxiety, and restlessness we experience during this stressful time. Sadly, the only way we can express these deep emotions is by taking them out on the people we’re stuck with.”

There’s a clinical term for this: misplaced or misdirected anger. “Because we can’t properly express our anger towards the real cause, we end up venting it on others,” says Dr. Hokemeyer. Moreover, the stay-at-home orders have limited our personal space. “We humans are at the top of the food chain, and we need to feel in control of our surroundings. When we don’t, we may become unfriendly to those nearby,” he adds.

Living with your partner at home can be challenging, and working in the same space can make it even more complicated. Here are some tips approved by Dr. Hokemeyer to help you manage your living and working situation more smoothly.

Share Alone Time

People require personal space, and you might have to plan for it in the current situation. “Even if it’s just 30 minutes, or even if the weather is bad, you should leave the house or apartment. Both you and your partner need some time alone,” Dr. Hokemeyer suggests.

Use Quiet Voices

Even though it may be a while before we can go to a theater, we can still speak in ways that show consideration for the others in the house. Remember, if your partner can’t hear you while they’re working, they might forget you’re sharing the same workspace. “You don’t have to shout at anyone or anything during work hours or talk loudly on your smartphone—technology works well,” he says.

Use Different Work Areas

Trying to work in the same spot can lead to irritation. If your living space is big enough, pick two separate spots in the house that are far apart so you can each work without disturbing the other.

Stick to a Schedule

Just like a regular workday, having a routine is important. Dr. Hokemeyer emphasizes the need to create a daily schedule and stick to it. “Begin and end your work at the same times, take a lunch break, and maintain your grooming routine. Wear a clean shirt and pants—you can still wear your slippers, though,” he advises. “Establishing a routine helps you set clear boundaries and guidelines for how to operate during this uncertain time when the world is full of uncertainty.”

Share Responsibilities

If you have children at home, create a clear plan for how you’ll divide parenting duties. Additionally, if one of you has an important conference call or needs uninterrupted work time, communicate with each other in advance so you can schedule it into your day.

Eat Proper Meals at a Table

A great way to peacefully coexist during the workday is by sharing meals together. “This includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” notes Dr. Hokemeyer. “Snacking on the couch with a bag of chips isn’t considerate of your partner and can affect their professionalism.” Instead, having proper meals together allows you to connect and make the most of the extra time you have together.

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