Three Rules to Follow When You Live With Someone Who Works From Home

This one goes out to my significant other. Significantly: Leda Marritz

When my husband, Tim, quit his job to develop his own game almost two years ago, I knew there would be challenges. For example, he was funding its development entirely with his own savings, with no guarantee of any kind of return—and I became the sole breadwinner in a city famous for its unaffordability. To save money, he decided to work from our small one-bedroom apartment, where his desk and our living room share the same space.

I definitely anticipated stress over money, long hours, and uncertainty, but I looked forward to the perks and flexibility of having someone at home during the day. But in reality? It was him working from home that caused much of the stress we experienced that first year.

I work in an office and keep pretty regular hours; while I stay late sometimes, I endeavor to not work after I get home. Tim used to be this way, too. Back when he was a salaried employee at a game design studio, evenings and weekends were time for friends, relaxation, and outside interests. When he started working for himself, all of that changed. Work was now home, and home was work. Not to mention, sharing our small space became a whole lot more complicated.

Over time, we’ve managed it better, but looking back, here are three things I learned that helped us navigate the transition.

1. Agree on a Quitting Time

When I get home at the end of the day, work is over. I’m ready to talk about my day, spend time on personal projects, or watch a movie. But when your home is your (or your spouse’s) workspace, this divide becomes much harder to observe.

In the beginning, I’d come home and start chatting right away—I was, as usual, ready to talk about the details of the day, and I’d be hurt when he wasn’t.

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