As the world slowly grinds to a halt in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many things have changed. Likely, one of the biggest things that has changed in your day to day life is your work routine. If you're like most people, one or both of the people in your relationship used to leave the house for work every day, but now odds are you and your partner are stuck home together virtually 24/7. This previously unexplored dynamic can lead to a lot of new conflicts in your relationship if you're not careful, but it can also be extremely rewarding if you navigate it carefully. Here are our top tips for working from home with your partner.
Set Ground Rules
If one of you has a job that requires quiet alone time and concentration, while the other has a job that they can accomplish while watching TV or chatting, you might be in trouble. To avoid getting on each other's nerves with your different work time needs, set ground rules as quickly as possible. A good rule might be establishing just how much uninterrupted work time you both need each day, and under what circumstances its okay to interrupt the other's work. Or maybe you need to set geographic boundaries (i.e. "I'm going to work from the bedroom, please treat this room as you would my office from the hours of 9-5.") Or maybe you need to make it clear to them that should they interrupt you on a virtual conference call, you will punish them by eating them first when your food supply runs short.
Establish Times For Breaks
Obviously, one of the good things about all of this is all the extra time you get to spend with your loved ones. Take advantage (while still allowing time to accomplish your work) by getting into a daily routine that includes set lunch hours you can share together, a set quitting time, and a daily start time. It will help you feel in control to have a routine, and it'll make meal times feel more normalized if they happen at the same time every time. Another great way to feel in control is to carve tiny replicas of all the people in your life, and force them to do unspeakable acts in the make believe tiny world you've built for them.
Break the Monotony
Being stuck inside all day can get exhausting, and having only your partner for company can become quite isolating. To alleviate the affects of boredom and isolation, do things to surprise each other! Make your partner's favorite dish without telling them, clean the kitchen even when its not your turn, repaint a room in the house without consulting anyone, set small but cruel traps throughout the house (think Home Alone), hide in dark corners and spring out when your partner least expects it while shrieking like the swamp monster you've begun to look like after four days in the same sweatpants!
Create a Fake Coworker
You're undoubtedly going to do things to annoy one another, and since you're stuck in the same home for the foreseeable future, those things are going to be much more irritating than usual. To help, create a fake coworker to blame things on! Every time one of you leaves a half-drank water glass lying around just exclaim, "Ugh! Karen is always doing that! What are we going to do about her!" To add even more levity, begin murmuring your fake coworker's name when your partner thinks you're asleep! As Karen becomes more and more real to you and your partner, leave fun little messages from Karen around your house, like "HELP" scrawled on the wall, or a freezer full of babydoll heads. If you get really good at this new fun game, maybe you'll even forget that you're the one leaving the messages, and black out only to suddenly awaken, cold, and confused, your hands covered in blood. Fun!
Implement Humanitarian Rules for Resource Wars
In any relationship, its important to create boundaries and to let your partner know what you're just not comfortable with. This becomes especially important in this time of cohabitation in close quarters for an extended period of time. Inevitably, your supply of dry pasta and canned soup is going to begin to run low, so its important to let your partner know what you consider to be a violation of international humanitarian law, and to communicate effectively that you will consider them a war criminal should they violate these guidelines. As you both start to fully lose your minds, hearing voices from the walls and holy messages via the glow of your Nintendo Switch, you want to have rules in place. As trenches are inevitably dug and barricades erected, you want to come up with signals for cease fire, surrender, and intent to attack. As you violently vie for the last can of spaghetti-o's, you want to remember that communication is key in a healthy relationship!
Create a Running Ranking of the Family Member You'll Eat First
As the resource war drags on and that last pack of Oreo's becomes the cause of numerous bloody, armed confrontations, you want to make it clear to the whole house that those who violate the aforementioned war-laws will be consumed first when the food supply inevitably runs out. Did your son or daughter leave all the lights on in the living room? Eaten first. Did your husband forget to put the toilet seat down? Save his liver for me! Did Karen use your iphone charger without asking? Eat that b*tch! As always, a successful relationship is all about communication, boundaries, and a bracket of which household member you plan to have for dinner!
When the weaker partner folds beneath the weight of the other's superior military might and strategic thinking, there will just be one of you left in the house. Karen will, of course, still be around to keep you company, and its likely she's taken on a physical form at this point, probably appearing as a version of you but with no face, or maybe as a glowing, floating young child whose head twists around fully backwards. Unfortunately, personifications of one's own growing madness don't make for great company, so you'll want to maintain a routine to give yourself a semblance of normalcy. We recommend beginning the day with a bit of exercise, and no, rocking back and forth, clutching yourself, and murmuring "Rona Rona you're no fun! You're no fun for anyone!" in a giggly, panicked voice does not count. Instead, try rollerblading!
Next, make sure to have a nutritious breakfast, yogurt with granola will do! (Gnawing on a doorframe like the protagonist in The Yellow Wallpaper is not recommended by the CDC). Then, try to find something to do that's mentally stimulating, like reading a book or taking a free online course! Whatever you do, don't count every thread in your bedsheets over and over again until your mind starts to shred into nothing and your eyes start to see shapes and figures that aren't there, but perhaps once were, perhaps long ago they came, to float among us and whisper messages. Have they always been there? Their touch is cold but sweet. Their eyes (can you call those deep, dark pits eyes?) are searching. They are seeking something, something only you can give them. Oh yes, they've come for you, they've always been here, waiting for you to stop riding the subway and going to brunch and to simply notice them in the stillness. Take their hand, go where they lead, show them what they seek.
Now would also be a great time to take up yoga!