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Tips for Working Together as a Couple

I have a confession to make.

You’d think, being someone that makes it their business to write about relationships, that I’d have my shit together when it comes to my own relationship.

Not so much. All the theory and knowledge in the world about a subject doesn’t trump the complexity of emotions.

Couples Working Together

The truth is, my man and I are terrible at some aspects of being a couple.

The most challenging right now is that we’re trying to work together. From the same little pokey office. On the same business.

And – this week, at least – it’s not going well.

Have you ever tried to work with your partner? Get it right, and it’s a winning combination.

Generating your own income, working in your pyjamas until 11am if you so desire… taking off for a road trip together if it happens to be a nice day, eating dinner at senior’s hour instead of arriving home at 8pm, too tired to cook.

Lifestyle-wise, it’s more time together than any couple could (would) ever ask for.

Get it wrong, however, and your beloved partner morphs from upstanding squeeze to the cubicle-mate from hell.

Oh don’t worry, I’m under no misconceptions. I know I’m no dream to work with either. At least, not since the lines between love and work got blurry.

Sometimes, you find yourself using a tone that would get you fired in any other professional environment.

You conduct meetings using highly inappropriate language and somehow the professional discussion about the new financial year’s marketing plan turns to an all-out fighting match over who should unstack the dishwasher.

I told my man the other week in no uncertain terms that if I was back at my “real” full-time job, I would’ve had HR haul him over the coals for the way he was behaving during the meeting we were holding.

Problem is, he is HR in our little office. I have no feel-good back up team on my side here to watch out for my emotional wellbeing. Neither does he, for that matter.

It’s hard to separate your work-couple from your relationship-couple. Because at the end of the day, despite what all the texts on the subject tell you, you are the same people, office or bedroom.

While others can choose to turn off their Crackberry to avoid late-night office emails, mine come directly to me as I’m brushing my teeth. “When do you think you’ll have that document ready for me?” Brush, rinse, spit… “ummm… Tomorrow?”

So, in typical Emma fashion, I’ve decided to turn to the experts for advice.

Here are the three best tips I’ve found when it comes to couples working together:

1. Implement Safe Time
Safe time is a pre-agreed upon part of the day when you can’t talk about business. Call it, say, 8pm to 8am or even from 6-8pm (any work-from-home couple will tell you they work weird hours). Safe time stops you and your partner from walking around on eggshells waiting for someone to bring up business talk.

2. Make Meetings in a Public Space
Particularly if you have a sensitive topic to bring up, doing it in a café reminds you to be civil with each other and gets you out of the house where lines can be blurred between work-couple and romantic-couple.

3. Act Like You’re Married
When you’re clocked off, instead of just getting the hell away from each other because you’ve been cooped up in an office all day together, act like a married couple and go have a date, or dinner. Or a long walk.

I’ll be adding these to the agenda on our next productivity meeting. If anyone has more tips for me on working with your partner, you know where to find me.

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Author |

Writer, dating columnist, wife, coffee addict, foodie, fashionista... Melburnian through and through. Muser, dancer, blogger, tweeter. Likes to get her head on telly now and again. Sleeper, dreamer, a sucker for romance. And of course... a cheap date.

Discussion

3 comments for “Tips for Working Together as a Couple”

  1. Posted by Craig | December 6, 2010, 8:52 pm

    Hi Emma

    Thanks for the great tips. I especially like the “safe time” idea. Think I need to work on that one.

    My wife works with me on a limited basis due to the young-en’s. But it is our business and our livelihood. And it excites me, most of the time. So when we get the small amount of quality time (kidless) that we do I often find myself talking about what’s been going on in the business in way more detail than I need to. Stops us both from relaxing.

    A 7pm until morning safe time should fix that.

    Let’s see how we go.

    Cheers
    Craig

  2. Posted by Emma | December 7, 2010, 12:33 pm

    Hey Craig – glad you found them useful! Den is the same, he absolutely gets off on talking about business all the time and he loves it. I enjoy it to a point, and then I like to talk about other things sometimes.

    Let me know how you go with “safe time”! Another tip I didn’t include in the article is to appoint a “safe room” or safe rooms as well… for instance, the bedroom and the bathroom are good non-work areas to appoint as safe from business talk.

    Good luck!

  3. Posted by Paul Shall | December 14, 2011, 4:49 am

    This is one of the challenges my wife and I face. I have started a real estate venture, and she will be licensed shortly as well. In addition to real estate, she already works from home. We’re CONSTANTLY around one another, and it’s important to take the time off to do something (anything!) non-business related or not talk about business goings-on all the time. Somehow, though, we’ve managed, and our little set up has worked quite well.

    Awesome post, and the part about the Crackberry and tooth brushing had me seriously LOL-ing!

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