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How Not To Hate Your Partner If They Just Became Your Co-Worker In Self Isolation

As the government continues to tighten measures around self isolation to control the spread of coronavirus, many of us are finding ourselves in situations we never have before.

If you're in the position where you are able to work from home, this first might have been compounded by another. Working from home next to your partner -- who is in the same situation.

While we of course, love them, working alongside your partner during self isolation can present a number of its own unique challenges when it comes to your relationship.

Being around each other all day and trying to work in a heightened environment, as tensions are flared while we try our best to cope with the ever unfolding news and list of new restrictions placed on us, while at the same time trying to meet out partner's needs is a delicate balance.

Many of us are finding ourselves in this situation for the first time. Image: Getty

And let's be honest, none of us quite know how to do it or navigate this period because quite frankly, we've never had to do it or face anything like this before.

That's why 10 daily spoke to clinical counsellor and psychotherapist Julie Sweet, who told us exactly what we can do to make sure we're not rubbing our partner up the wrong way while we work in the same household:

1. Put boundaries in place between 'work' and 'home'

Sweet said the first thing you need to do is have an open discussion with your partner about the new territory you're entering when it comes to working from home.

"The landscape is changing and with that, you will both change, along with your relationship. So put your cards on the table and communicate clearly," she said.

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A good tool you can use to do this is to state how you 'feel' and what you 'need' as a result when it comes to your working space.

"If you’re a great communicator, you can even insert a real time example in between how you feel and what you need. That then causes you to be specific and not generalise," Sweet said.

"Once you’ve done this, try to reflect back to your partner what you feel it is you heard them express. This can take some getting used to and test your patience, yet it’s worth it. It will not only provide you both with clarity, it will enable you to create and maintain firm boundaries."

2. Make sure your partner knows what your work schedule looks like

Sweet said it's important to ensure your partner understands the pressure points in your day.

For example, do you have a group conference call everyday at 9:30am? Do you check in again at 2pm? Letting them know will make it easier to get your work done.

"Delineate your timetable consisting of all calls/video conferencing engagements being made and received, approximate length of interactions with clients/staff and estimated time required whereby you are to not have any disturbances," Sweet said.

Clinical counsellor and psychotherapist Julie Sweet. Image: Supplied

"Make sure the room is one that is quiet, clean and comfortable. You want to portray a polished image and one that’s set up to expect the call with consideration and mindfulness. That way you’ll be calm, available and present."

3. Make the call on whether or not you'll take a lunch break together

Sweet said whether or not you have a 'lunch break' while at home together is dependent on what you and your partner prefer. The most important thing is you both agree to it.

"Some people thrive with structure and predictability. So having separate work spaces within the one home throughout the day can be beneficial for them, like setting aside a designated lunch time," Sweet said.

Other couples are more flexible and free flowing, who may prefer to not rejoin or meet up with their partner until the end of the day, once their work has been accomplished and day completed, similarly to how they’d function outside the home.

"Some like to not have it changed up that dramatically at home, even though the environment may be different."

It really comes down to what you decide on with your partner and making sure to stick to it.

4. Tell you partner if they are getting on your nerves or in your way

Does your partner being on a conference call without telling you annoy the hell out of you? Well you need to tell them, according to Sweet.

"Humans can’t read minds. So if none of us are mind readers, how can we possibly begin to think we know if and when, we are getting on each other’s nerves, or in each other’s way? We need to be told," she said.

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"Assumptions are never a good place to start when approaching your partner. So instead, check in and ask directly what’s perhaps coming up for them, or let them know you’re sensing something may be frustrating them, however wanted to ask them, as opposed to guess and get it wrong."

Sweet said it's our job to look after our partner like we look after ourselves and doing this enriches your connection and provides a secure and functioning relationship.

5. Don't avoid 'healthy' conflict

Sweet said you don't need to shy away from or be scared of having a 'healthy' disagreement, particularly when it comes to the unsettling times we are navigating.

"A wonderful technique to use when tensions rise, or whenever you feel angst, is to simply name it in the here and now," she said. 

Research shows couples who shed light on the issue at hand immediately and who demonstrate emotional intelligence by talking about their triggers, far better than unions that keep things hidden, or allow matters to build and fester.

Sweet said it's much better to turn towards your partner than turning away if you're having trouble getting on the same page, even if you're feeling upset or defensive.

"After all a burden shared becomes a lighter load to carry, so share with your partner how you feel, in order to have a stable and anxiety free atmosphere," she said.

6. Be open to learning new things about them when it comes to their work

Sweet said there might be a hidden benefit or seeing your partner working and in action. You get to see another side of them you might not have otherwise.

"I’ve had a client disclose only recently (since the coronavirus outbreak) that she in fact found it extremely attractive hearing her partner speak to a client when working from home," Sweet said.

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"She explained that she hadn’t had the opportunity to see him in 'work mode' before and found him surprisingly confident, extremely knowledgeable and refreshingly humanistic."

So there you have it, you might find your partner even more attractive after a fly on the wall view of them at work.

7. Make sure neither of your work from your bedroom

Sweet said in her clinical opinion, it's preferable to work away from where you sleep.

"The bedroom is a place for intimacy, restoration, rest and re-calibration. None of which align with professionalism, work or business," she said.

"So it’s ideal that you find a functional work space within your home, from an at home study or a separate room, even if it’s from your laptop, try and work somewhere where there’s a table/desk, fresh air, light and privacy."

Sweet said it's best to make sure the space where you choose to work is different to where you sleep and relax.

"You want to be highly efficient and motivated whilst working from home, not blur the lines between what is pleasure and what is professionalism and generally, working out of your bedroom is not conducive to productivity," she said.

Featured image: Getty

Do you have a lifestyle story or personal experience to share with us? Reach out and tell us about it at vtodoroska@networkten.com.au