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6 Tips for Couples Who Work Together

How to balance labor and love.

Contributing Writer
couple planning at table

If you head out of the house together each morning and commute to the same workplace, boundaries can start to get blurred. Here's how you can make both your business relationship and private relationship work well simultaneously.

 

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Start fresh after you clock out.

One of the first things you can do to "turn off" after a long day, and be present in your home life, is to change your clothes, says Anita Chlipala, a relationship expert based in Chicago. "Get out of your work clothes as soon as you can and change into something comfortable, or at least anything that won't make you feel like you're in 'work mode,'" she says.

 

Understand each other's after-work needs.

Feelings can get hurt easily when partners spend most of your time together, so it's important to have the discussion to understand what your spouse needs (and vice versa) after a long day at the office. "If one partner is an introvert, they may need some down time after work," Chlipala says. "If the other person expects that time to be 'we time' or wants to chat, they can feel hurt that their partner doesn't feel the same way."

 

If one of you holds a higher position…

This can be a tricky topic in a couple of different ways. "One [issue] I see commonly is if one person makes considerably more money," Chlipala says. "It can be either an ego thing or used contemptuously in an argument, such as, 'You can't tell me what to do with my money.'" Or, one position may require more hours than another, leaving one person feeling neglected. In either case, couples should define what an equal partnership looks like. "Each person has to acknowledge the contributions of another. And definitely show appreciation!" she adds. "So many couples feel unappreciated by their partner, so creating a culture of admiration and respect can make a difference."

 

Limit the work talk at home.

In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed by your professional duties, you'll need a way to disconnect once you're finished working. Setting some boundaries for work discussion is one way you can do that, Chlipala says. "Depending on the job, not everyone can leave work at work," she says. Whether you need to de-compress right away or prefer to nip the discussions in the bud after you clock out, you can cater these limits to whatever suits your lifestyle.

 

If you had an argument the night before…  

Establish an understanding that any problem will eventually be addressed, even if it's not during the work day, Chlipala says. She says she commonly works with clients who become anxious or not able to concentrate if an issue doesn't get settled immediately—so it's helpful to set the expectation that you'll discuss any issues after work is done for the day. "Knowing that problems will be addressed can give people peace of mind and allow them to be more focused at work," she adds.

 

Put the relationship first.

Connecting and communicating effectively will be the key to successfully managing conflict and respecting one another, whether you're at home or at work. "Couples still have to put each other first," Chlipala says. She often advises her clients to connect with each other on a daily basis—rather than waiting until Saturday night to do so. She says setting aside that time without work can help a couple stay close.

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