Over the last few weeks families across the country have experienced a tremendous amount of change in their daily routines. With schools closed and parents now working from home this has created quite a bit of, uh, together time. And while this is a tremendous opportunity for families to experience a renewed sense of connection, it also presents the likelihood of increased conflict, especially in marriage. To that end, here are 5 helpful tips for making the most of working alongside your unexpected new co-worker.
- Give each other grace. This is a new scenario for both of you- you’re both adjusting to working in a completely different way and are likely experiencing a heightened degree of anxiety. Giving grace to one another means assuming the best of each other’s intentions. In short, giving one another the benefit of the doubt. It also means doing away with criticism. By definition grace means “unmerited favor.” Critical words are the opposite of grace and will only add to feelings of tension or uneasiness.
- Give each other space- both physical and emotional. There is some truth to the old sentiment “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Recognize that being home together does not mean you have to work side by side. Create separate work spaces if possible (and desired). Also, stay mindful of emotional space. One person may need quieter times to think and reflect- both regarding work and the current global crisis. Communicate about the amount of physical and emotional distance you both need- which leads to the next point…
- Keep communication open about feelings and needs. During this uneasy time emotions are likely to run the gamut throughout the course of any given day. Don’t expect your spouse to automatically know what you’re feeling- let him/her know. Then, communicate clearly what you need. Take all the guessing out of it! For example, “I need you to help out around the house,” is very vague. “I’m feeling overwhelmed with the amount of housework that needs done. I would feel grateful if you would do the dishes tonight,” is specific and identifies the emotion experienced.
- “What can I do to make your day better today?” Asking this question ensures you have a balanced focus. As we all know, it’s easy to get caught up in our own selves, our own plans, and our own agendas. Take the time at some point in the day to ask your spouse what you can do for them- and then actually do it! This is one of the best ways we can show love to our spouses, especially during high stress times.
- Have realistic expectations. Some days will go pretty smoothly but other days may leave you questioning how long you can carry on in this new work environment. Rough days will happen. Be quick to forgive and know that tomorrow will bring another opportunity to extend one another grace.