Q: In a few weeks, my husband will begin working at home full time, just like I do. We will have separate offices, but they will be next to each other. Can you provide us with a list of "rules to work by" to avoid conflict between us? Pretending the other is not there is my first idea.
A: Pretending your spouse is not next door will be difficult at best and will lead to major discord at worst. The chances are overwhelming you will sometimes hear one another on the phone, or one of you will want something from the other, while the other wants to be undisturbed. The potential problems you identify now can help you develop a practical plan to guard against things like noise and to decide how you're going to handle the housecleaning, meals and child care (if applicable). Here are some guidelines to start with:
- When problems do arise, avoid the temptation to minimize them as being silly or unimportant. When a spouse feels irritation, it may turn into resentment and, over time, boil over and affect your relationship. Take each concern and problem seriously, and develop possible solutions for avoiding the problem. For example, soundproofing materials can cut noise.
- Work out clearly stated agreements. Don't make assumptions about who will do what, when. State what you need, and ask for what you want from each other.
- Close the door on work at the end of the day so you have nonbusiness time together--and specifically keep business out of your bedroom. Don't go to bed angry. And get out of the house regularly, together and separately, to do things you enjoy.
Remember, love keeps you together. Don't dissolve it with acid remarks. Keep the bond strong with kindness toward one another.
Paul and Sarah Edwards' latest book is Why Aren't You Your Own Boss? Leaping Over the Obstacles That Stand Between You and Your Dream. Send them your start-up questions at www.workingfromhome.comor in care of Entrepreneur.