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Working With Your Spouse Survival Guide

Posted by Giovanna A. D'Orazio | Mar 18, 2020

Thanks to COVID-19 social distancing measures and workplaces moving to remote working, lots of people find themselves for the first time in our usual situation: working with (or at least in the same space as) their spouse.  When you work with your spouse, people will ask you on a daily basis how you do it without killing each other.  You will also be surprised at how many NSFW questions you get asked about how you spend your time in the office.

Well, our moment to share our tips has come, so here are some tricks we've picked up along the way (some serious and some not so much):

SEPARATE:  The key to working with your spouse is sometimes not working with your spouse.  We are lucky to live near our office, so we tend to alternate working from home and in the office, and then convene when we need to. 

Now that we are both working from home (and trying to homeschool and parent our kids at the same time), one of us will work in their own space in the morning and the other in the afternoon. 

KNOW THYSELF:  While Scott can work in the midst of chaos, I know that I need to set aside some undisturbed time to work or I will lose my patience, especially working with kids in the house.  If you can, take turns working so that you aren't trying to juggle a million things at once.

TURN IT OFF:  The biggest challenge when we first started working together was not having work talk permeate every aspect of our lives.  As time went on, we got better at turning it off.  After business hours, we don't discuss work or check work emails.  Despite an often instant-gratification culture, not everything is an emergency or needs to be responded to immediately.  While we prioritize client service, it is also important to set boundaries and many after-hours calls and emails can be addressed the following morning.  If it's a real emergency, our clients know how to reach us.

EATING: If your partner finds the sound of eating a certain type of food offensive, refrain from doing it in their presence.  This will cause rage and ill will that can permeate your entire day.

EAR BUDS AND HEADSETS:  If you find yourself working in the same space, do not pace around the room on a telephone call while the other person is trying to work.  This will also cause the aforementioned rage and ill will.

QUALITY TIME:  Working together, even if you enjoy it, is not quality time.  When we were not reenacting The Shining, we prioritized date nights and took walks at lunchtime.  Now, we would suggest finding some QT in the evenings; have a glass of wine after the kids go to bed, or try to find a show you can agree on (a challenge, I know), instead of going your separate ways.  Some shows that met our watch together criteria (not too soapy for Scott and not destined to cause nightmares for me): The Americans, Billions, Schitt's Creek, Friday Night Lights, Battlestar Galactica and Yellowstone are a few.

ALONE TIME: On the flip side of QT, we value alone time too.  Scott is an early riser and has his alone time in the mornings and at the gym.  My alone time is Purebarre (or at least it was before I broke my wrist) and reading or watching TV after everyone else goes to bed.

Working from home with your spouse can be a challenge but we know how lucky we are to have each other for backup.  We give a lot of credit to single parents who are trying to work, homeschool and parent their kids without someone to give them a break. 


About the Author

Giovanna A. D'Orazio

Giovanna has experience litigating, among other things, commercial, general civil, employment, land use and personal injury matters in New York State and federal courts. Giovanna focuses her practice on plaintiff's employment and personal injury matters, with a particular interest in women's rights and employment discrimination and harassment.

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