Working from Home: How to Get Your Unsupportive Spouse on Your Side
You’ve finally found the perfect gig to earn some money from home. But just when you think you have it all figured out, you learn that your spouse is not on board with the plan. Whether it’s a concern about money, time, housework, or anything else that might be on his mind, you’ll need to work it out together if you want your new arrangement to succeed.
One of the most common concerns about work-at-home positions is money. Have you given up an office job and a steady paycheck and/or benefits to work at home? Of course your spouse is going to be nervous because it puts more pressure on him (let’s assume it’s the husband who is unsupportive, although it certainly could go either way) and his job. Before you throw yourself headfirst into your new gig, you need to sit down with your spouse and work through your budget to make sure that you are both comfortable with the changes. Will your income be somewhat predictable? Will you need to make some sacrifices or cuts here and there? Will you be eligible for new tax breaks as the owner of a home-based business? Make sure you factor in the savings involved in not having to commute, being able to wear your around-the-house clothes, and eating lunches at home. Also remind him that you will be on hand whenever the kids are sick, or someone has to wait for the TV repairman, etc. And don’t forget the simple intangible benefit of being there for your kids. That benefit alone is priceless.
Another common concern is whether you’ll be able to manage your regular household demands – especially if you’ve been a stay-at-home mom and you are taking on new work to earn some extra money. Here’s where you’ll need to find out exactly what worries him most. It might be that he dreads the idea of a messy house, but he doesn’t mind eating more prepared foods or take-out meals. If that’s the case, you can find a way to make his priority your priority throughout your daily routine. You can even build in certain times during the day – say, a half-hour before lunch – for quick clean-up or other household chores. If he’d rather have fresh home-cooked meals every night, find out the cost of bringing in a housecleaner once a week or once every other week to give the house a good once-over.
A third concern is whether everyone – the spouse and the kids – will get the kind of attention they need. When you work at home, it’s easy to let the work spill over into all areas of your life. The key is to compartmentalize and set limits on your work time. If you have a special place in your house where you do your work, keep all of your work there and don’t let it bleed into other areas of the house. Give yourself some set hours to work, and after that shut down the computer and close the books. Set aside some quality time to read with your kids, play games, and help them with homework. And above all, save at least one night a week for “date time” with your spouse so that you can be together without the pressures of kids and work.
It’s amazing to think that a generation ago the work-at-home debate was barely an issue, but now with technology making it possible for anyone to work from anywhere, this arrangement is becoming increasingly common. The key to a successful work-at-home arrangement is to identify potential issues and work them out with your spouse so that you’re both comfortable and happy. Then you can congratulate yourselves for becoming a true 21st century family.