As everyone is moving towards a world where so many of us are working from home all the time, this is creating a huge source of frustration for lots of people:
When both members in a couple that live together work from... how do you avoid driving each other crazy?
This question is more important by the day. And especially when you don't live in a mansion but a normal-sized apartment or house, this becomes doubly important. In a big house, both can go to separate rooms but not in a normal-sized space!
To figure out how to solve this problem, we spoke to lots of marriage therapists and family counselors... and what we learned surprised us, and might surprise you, too.
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The most common recommendations that everyone gives is to communicate, communicate, communicate. Decide who does what, when, and where. And space, give each other space. Yes, of course. Who wants to be on top of someone else all the time? No one!
That's really helpful, and a good start. If you don't agree to who will use the dining room table and when, and vice versa, or if you don't agree to what to do in case either of you have meetings that run over when the other needs it--then that could plant the seeds of problems. So communication is a great start.
But it's not enough, and it's not the magic, surprise tip that lots of marriage therapists give the couples they help work through.
This strategy has *two parts--and wait for the second part, it's coming soon!
The first part of the way to not go crazy is to create distance, in smart and practical ways, between yourself and your partner.
First part -- understand the importance of separation and separate space -- is not obvious because a lot of people have the instinct to be very close all the time to their partner. But "great fences make great neighbors" as the old saying goes--and when you're living in a small apartment with your neighbor, it is even truer!
And these not-literal fences can take many forms, such as:
What all of those have in common are clear boundaries and separation. And as a part of that, if you write down the rules clearly in a shared document, that helps reduce ambiguity to make the expectations clearer. And as always with relationships, it's all about the expectations!
But here's the hard part of defining separation: getting your partner to agree to the details--and enforcing it.
All the time, people will just not do what they don't want to, or do it for a few days and then slowly do less and less.
And having clear, strong separation is hard for some people.
BUt how do you get your partner to agree?
This is the magical second part:
Find a relationship counselor who thinks in the same way you do, whose role is largely to help you convince your partner to give you space.
What is the role of the marriage therapist anyway? On one level, it is to help sort out problems and issues that couples have, to make it go smoothly, leading to a "happily ever after" ending.
But on a deeper level, it is about finding the right counselor who shares your same values and shares your same ideas and shares your same vision for a relationship--and getting your partner to think the same.
In other words, it's often hard to get your partner to just change. But with a trusted, third outside party, who is a professional in the space, whose role it is to get your partner to improve his or her behavior--then that's how you can get him or her to change!
How do you find such a relationship counselor or marriage therapist? Oh, there are lots of resources online about it, so I'd suggest doing research to find one who shares your same values--and who will be especially good at getting your partner to act in the way you need them to act.
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