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Working remotely can definitely be tricky to navigate, and when you throw in working at home WITH your spouse, you’ll soon realize it’s a whole new ballgame. So we are sharing 3 tips for creative small business owners working at home with their spouse over a series of blog posts.
You may have noticed that life has recently been “flipped, turned upside down” to quote a famous 90’s poet. While many are quick to point out that these are not unprecedented times we are living in, I’d like you to raise your hand if you remember the Spanish flu, or what it was like living during the shutdown.
For so many of us, we are finding ourselves working in the same space as our spouses for the first time. You may have seen tweets about not knowing they married a “we’ll circle back around to that”, kinda spouse. Or people who never really know they married a total bad ass until they have seen them deal with all the struggles that come from managing people.
Field and I are creative small business owners and have worked in the same space on and off for 11 years and we still hit roadblocks. As a creative small business owner or stay at home parent with a side hustle, working at home has its own set of difficulties. While working from home with a spouse or partner you will quickly realize that we all handle things differently, so give yourself and your partner some grace. Here is our number one piece of advice for couples working from home together!
Our number one tip for creative small business owners working at home with their spouse.
Now while this seems like the obvious first thing to consider, the added stress of the uncertainty that is brought with every story about wearing a mask vs. not wearing one, or weather or not sports are going to be played this year (a big one in the Denny household), or just how long will Disneyland be closed (total household freak out), shortens our opportunity to communicate about what really matters.
So what does good communication look like sharing the same “work space” due to COVID-19? If we are not communicating our feelings and expectations with our spouses, it is a recipe for disaster. When Field and I find ourselves getting frustrated or upset, we can almost always pin the problem back to a lack of communication. The most ideal scenario would be that each morning we both fully communicate expectations for how we see the day going; what needs to be done with work, who is helping the kids with school, who is cooking, cleaning….you get the idea.
In the real world…we roll out of bed and into the day in survival mode, never expressing any expectation of our spouse, assuming they already know what the expectations are (because yesterday duh) and that those expectations will be met with glorious achievement. Well, where to begin.
These 230 days of “quarantine” have brought tiny bouts of depression to otherwise the most optimistic of humans, coupled with days of feeling powerless. These days have also brought very productive days, where gardens are started, work and home projects are championed, and a renewed love for taking walks. While in many cases, the bad days can’t be totally avoided, there are usually opportunities every day for you and your spouse or partner to be highly productive. The key is knowing and communicating what kind of day you are having, and being open and honest about when you are mentally available to achieve greatness, and when you just aren’t quite there.
It is our responsibility as a married couple to communicate with each other clearly, gracefully and frequently. That being said, life happens and we fail sometimes. What if I told you that the key to preventing these little miss steps was as simple as a phrase? This is going to sound CRAZY and kinda silly to say, but I am telling you that a simple and corny phrase has done wonders for our marriage.
As with all difficult communication, it is important to remember that your spouse/partner is a good natured person, who doesn’t intentionally do things to upset you. While starting this process, talk to your partner first and remind them that you know they are a good natured person, who would not purposefully cause you stress/harm.
“I feel unloved when (fill in the blank).”
“I feel disrespected when (fill in the blank).”
They seem like such silly sentences, but they are very powerful. Now the majority of the time, I use the phrase that “I feel unloved when”, and Field uses the one about respect. It’s not as dramatic as it may seem.
It can be something as simple as “I feel unloved when you don’t pick up after yourself” (can I get an amen from all the moms out there?). This was a huge years ago in our marriage, and something that Field has championed ever since he understood what an impact it had on they way I felt.
If you have heard these before, you may recognize them from the book “Love & Respect” by Emerson Eggerichs. I would highly recommend purchasing the book and reading it as a couple. We encourage our married couples, our single friends, men and women alike, to read this book. It has helped in all forms of communication, from friendships, family members, kids, and business partners.
I would encourage you, the next time you stars to become agitated, short, upset or closed off, to speak up. As soon as you realize that something is not right, and say to your spouse or partner, “I am sorry I am upset. I feel unloved when ____”. When we first started using this from of communicating the little hurts in our life, it was awkward. Sometimes we would laugh through it, sometimes we would cry. The important thing is that we communicated to someone that we knew was a good person, who would take it for what it was; a way to become closer and more loved.
For Field and I, since COVID-19 quarantine and economic shutdown, the challenges we face daily are effectively working on our small business together, having 3 kids homeschooling with notes and assignments from 9 different teachers, worrying about and supporting our small business owning friends, AND stressing about our financial future. I am sure many of you can relate in one way or another.
We would love to know what challenges you are facing right now, which you may not have foreseen, and how to you and your spouse or partner communicate most effectively?