How to Work Remotely with Your Partner and Not Get a Divorce
They say opposites attract, and in my case, it’s true. I’ve been married for more than 10 years, and my blended-family partner is my polar opposite in many ways.
I’m an extrovert; she’s an introvert. I love to ride my Harley; she wants a good book on the couch. I like pineapple on my pizza; she’s a savage.
So when people hear that we both work from home (for different companies), they ask how we do it. To be fair, I’ve long said I’d never be able to work directly with my wife.
For those of you who do work with your romantic partner, how do you do it?! I digress…
When people who know us ask us this question, there’s an underlying tone of, “How has she not kicked you out?!” Which, to be honest, is both a-little-hurtful and a valid question.
All of this got me thinking: What's our secret as a family that works from home and is still in a happy home? In other words, how can we work remotely in the same home and not end up “going crazy”?
Here is my confessional.
Bottom line: My partner and I both love working from home. I think our two kids love it, too. We’re there for them, teaching them that they can design the life they want.
Of course, remote work isn’t always possible. Our oldest wants to work in theater, so who knows where she’ll end up, and our youngest wants to be a veterinarian, so they may be unable to work from home. But I’d like to think both kids have learned something about creating a career they love from our work lives.
So whether it’s the opportunity to be in our home for the kids when they were younger or being able to take our youngest to a coffee shop so they can work on their art while I work, this life is legit. I love it so much that I have a second confession about the benefits…
After starting my remote-work life in 2017, I fell in love with it. When I had to go back to an office environment (driving 45-60 minutes one way), despite being a great opportunity with a terrific boss, I knew corporate office life was not for me.
Thankfully, remote work continued to grow, and I got into Impulse Creative. Once the pandemic forced even more companies to work from home — and we all learned that working at home can mean pet and kid interruptions — I knew I’d never return to an office.
Side note: If you’re an extrovert working from home (like myself), I have a resource: The extrovert’s guide to working remote.
Back to working with your spouse. My partner, Sonya, began working from home in 2019. We quickly realized that she and I have to have separate working spaces. We’re both on calls throughout the day and have different working styles. If she could hear how hard I tap on my keyboard all day, she’d probably put a soundproof weighted blanket over my hands.
So, yeah, boundaries help.
But the nice thing is that we can have impromptu chats, vent to each other about work, touch base on personal items, and unpack the latest world issue in our social feeds. Separate spaces with proximity work for us.
Proximity to my partner and our kids is great. I also need my own relationships.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when taking my work on the road wasn’t safe, we had a lot of family time. Once the world began to open up, and I could leave to work safely from a cafe, I realized that as much as I love my family, it’s good to get out.
Now I try to work from a coffee shop every couple of weeks. I also rely heavily on video calls, which have long been a staple at Impulse Creative. While Zoom fatigue is real, there are ways to combat it, and I still like to have off-topic conversations with colleagues and see their faces.
Not only does working remotely help my work productivity, but it helps me at home, too. A lunch break could mean doing dishes, and an afternoon break could mean a quick ride on the lawn mower.
Working from home cuts down on travel time, which means I’m at my desk and working as soon as I’m ready. It’s great for those early morning hours of work when the world is still quiet. I love that early productivity.
Since starting my remote-work life, I’ve found more creativity. I love creating podcasts, articles, videos, and other creative media.
I’m not sure if it’s the home office, the general love of what I do, or something else, but the creativity I’ve found has been fantastic.
Despite all the benefits, I do miss those impromptu brainstorming sessions that come with working among my colleagues.
One way to balance this is to create working time with others, with a group simply dialing into a video room together. Even though structured creative time doesn’t have the same dopamine effect as an unexpected session used to, it still helps me.
I thought once my partner and I worked in our home together, we’d have lunch together all the time. Goodness, was I wrong. We both stay busy enough that our lunch times don’t often match up. However, we do get to coordinate lunch content. Whether we’re having sandwiches, salad, or something else, one of us will prepare it for both of us and we can then eat separately.
I’m sure we talked about our jobs before we spent all of our time in the same 1,000 square feet. But now that we’re in such proximity for so long, and no one else is around, we talk about our jobs more.
I love that I know more about my partner’s work than I did a few years ago. Understanding more of what she does helps build a connection, and it’s taught me to listen better.
We definitely work in different worlds. She’s in numbers and financials, while I’m in marketing and HubSpot. But I love that I know more about her work than I would if we were in different offices and only talked while rushing out the door in the mornings and at dinner.
Our kids are teenagers, so let’s first acknowledge that they don’t want much to do with me. However, over the years I’ve been able to be here when they’re sick, during spring or summer break, and before and after school has been incredible.
Both my kids know I’m here for them at the drop of a hat. Sometimes we’ll have lunch together. Sometimes I’m available to run one of them to an appointment or show up for a school event. While some of that could be possible even with an office job, the flexibility that comes with remote work means I have additional understanding from my company — and I love it.
Bonus: Both children know that it’s possible to build the life you want and not be tied to a cubicle. We’re both showing them that they can work toward a life they want. I love that, too.
Almost daily, my partner and I trade texts about cat math. We have two cats, Max and Mocha, and each of us has a cat hammock near our desks. Some days cat math is equal. Other days (the best days), I win.
But I can tell you this: being around our pets is amazing. Those days that Max busts in and flops on my lap while I’m writing are awesome. I believe being able to sit and pet our cats anytime we need absolutely adds life to our days.
Do you work remotely? While I love working from home, I’m looking forward to being co-mote and working from anywhere. If that’s you, what’s your advice?
What are some of the most important lessons you've learned if you work from home?
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