Advice on how to work with your husband when you share a home and office.
I should probably mention that my husband okayed the general topic of this article. (In fact, I’m pretty sure it was his idea.) At first I refused to consider this kind of theme for an article, seeing it as something that would inevitably devolve into a bicker-fest.
“What do you mean I laugh like a demented donkey? Oh yeah? … Your eyes are too close together!”
I made my husband promise that he would not read this.
I work with my husband in our basement office and sometimes quarters get a bit too close for comfort. It’s fine when we’re working on our own things, but the moment it comes time to coordinate on a project, we knock heads.
The short list of ways my spouse annoys me at work:
1- He often over-explains things that I consider to be obvious. Things I feel he should know that I know. Like where the computer’s on/off switch is.
2- He constantly interrupts my progress to ask me if I’m making As I write this, he’s on the basement couch asking ‘how’s it going? Are you done? How far from being done are you? Can you finish by one? When you’re done can you make lunch for the kids? Leah? Leah? I wuv oo. “ Dag-nabbit husband! I’m trying to concentrate!
3- Looking over my shoulder. I cannot express how it annoys me when I’m mid-sentence and I realize that someone is reading my work over my shoulder. I can feel him about to point out some inconsequential flaw that I hadn’t yet got the chance to revisit.
4- Constant reorganizing of the office supplies. For some reason this man feels it is absolutely vital to remove the power cords to everything from the boom box to the scanner. If it is not immediately being used the cord is bundled up and spirited away to somewhere only he knows. He will do this with other things too. Like the rechargeable batteries or the dry erase markers. Vanished!
How to offer constructive criticism to these problems.
1- The good news is that this is my husband. When he over explains something to me, I can tell him. I would probably never ever try to correct a regular co-worker. The key is not to snap. (Thus the necessity of plenty of bathroom breaks!) Losing your cool isn’t conducive to productivity. It’s nice instead to say something like “Honey, stop. I don’t want to upset you, but you’re talking to me like I’m five again.” He might roll his eyes and sigh, but he will actually make an effort to edit what comes out of his mouth.
2- I have tried explaining to my husband that it annoys me when he constantly halts my progress by checking on it. Stating that as his wife, I should be trusted to self-manage, and he can rest assured that if I have a question I will check in with him. I think he gets it, but now I’m pretty sure he’s riling me up on purpose, just to break his day up.
3- Lucky me, I have nearly successfully broken him of the habit of over-the-shoulder-ing! When I notice him bending behind me, screen level, I stop and ask him if he really needs to be there. A clue that he is irritating me and should find somewhere else to be.
4- I no longer do my own printing. If he thinks it is just so important to pack away the power cords, fine, so be it. He has now made it his personal responsibility to drop whatever he’s working on to do my bidding. I have also bought a secondary set of batteries and charger so that whenever I need them I don’t have to get furious at their absence because now I have my own! In essence, I keep my own, smaller, stash of office supplies separate from his so I can be assured of having them when I want them. It is nice to let my husband do his (inexplicable) thing while saving myself an angry, frustrated outburst.
Just in case this rather small list of annoyances doesn’t cover your own particular set, the best advice I can offer you is ‘breathe’. When you feel like a tea kettle about to boil over, resist the temptation to emit ear-piercing whistles and take a break. Excuse yourself to the bathroom, nobody ever asks you “what are you doing?” when you’re in the bathroom. If they do, they deserve to be boiled over on.
Next thing you need to accept is… all husbands are morons. Yes, I love mine. Yes, I’d never ever, ever, let him go; not even if Lee Pace comes bearing flowers and an engagement ring the size of my fist. But I (and you as well) may need to accept that some irritations cannot be ‘fixed’ and may only be ‘negotiated’.
I’m sorry if this bums you out, so to make you feel better I’ve included a bonus list, the short list of the reasons why my husband is not allowed alone in the kitchen:
1- He melted my teapot.
2- He set fire to the toaster. Then called me in to marvel at the blaze, because apparently only I can properly douse a fire.
3- He exploded my glass lasagna pan by trying to reheat leftovers on the stovetop burners.
4- He also thought he could put hot pots and pans DIRECTLY ON THE PLASTIC COUNTERTOP. Pot holders? Trivets? Those are for suckers.