How To Keep Your Relationship Healthy When You Both Work From Home

When the pandemic hit in 2020 and lockdowns were put in place, employees worldwide found themselves working from home. Although it was assumed that, eventually, people would go back into the office, some companies decided that keeping employees at home was actually a good thing. It also helped that the majority of workers in the U.S. have reported that they can do their job from home just as well as they can do it from an office (via Pew Research Center).

And while working from home certainly has its perks — you can skip the pants! — if your partner is working from home too, it can prove a bit difficult for some. There is such a thing as spending too much time together after all. "The central task of any [relationship] is the management of differences," couple and family psychologist Anthony Chambers tells CNN. "Couples who are together now 24/7, any differences can become magnified. Often times when we stay away from each other for eight to 12 hours a day, that helps manage those problems."

Getting a handle on our "new normal," as it keeps getting called, means making space for changes. So, yes, you can keep your relationship healthy when both you and your partner work from home. It's just going to involve some effort on both of your parts. 

Set some ground rules and healthy boundaries

In order to pull off living together and working together, ground rules are necessary. "Couples need to set boundaries," marriage and family therapist Stacy Hubbard tells Today. "And have a really clear conversation about what their needs and expectations are about working from home, and set hours of the day for a no-disturbance zone from this hour to this hour."

For example, individual workspaces are a good idea, so you're not constantly in each other's faces. And definitely lay down the law about your workspace being separate from your living space — no matter how comfy it might be to sit in bed and type away on your computer all day (via Bustle). Also, instead of having lunch at the same time, stagger your meals and breaks, so you're not running into each other in the kitchen and either getting distracted or annoyed that you're together all the time. This is an especially good idea if you live in a small place.

Then, when work is done for the day, you want to make sure you have rules about spending quality time together as partners instead of people who are sharing a common working space. A good rule of thumb is to not talk about work once the laptops are closed and notifications from your boss are set to silent. You don't want to lose focus of your relationship just because a worldwide pandemic has forever altered how we live and work.

Keep the lines of communication open

Although communication is always paramount in a relationship, when you're spending so much time together, it becomes even more important. You no longer have your partnership to communicate about, but your working space situation too. "Check in with each other," psychologist Guy Winch tells The New York Times. He recommends asking "'Just in terms of being work colleagues, what worked for us today? What would we like to change? Was it useful to take a lunch break at the same time? Was it OK that I came over and looked at what you were doing?'"

If you can't openly communicate about how working together is going, then you can't be surprised if little annoyances turn into resentment and spill over into your relationship. You may be living and working together, but keeping your relationship a priority should never cease to be front and center (via Insider). 

As long you know where to draw lines when it comes to being colleagues and partners, and make sure each is treated as a separate entity, then you're well on your way to keeping your relationship as healthy as it was before you started sharing a workspace. It's only if you don't set up some structure from the get-go that things can go awry and you may find yourself having petty arguments that would have never come up before you were thrown together 24/7.