By Sara Luck
Author of Claiming the Heart
Working together 24/7 can be put into context by citing every writer’s chestnut. Character, obstacle, goal—that is the essence of drama. We have two characters, my husband and me, both of us are novelists, and the goal is to have each of us complete our novels on deadline. But it’s the obstacles that make the drama, and being together all the time does create obstacles. We’re both writers, but with more and more people working from home, our situation applies to others as well.
The first obstacle to be overcome is the need for individual work space. My husband likes to write to classical music; I don’t like any distractions. So while we’re in the same house, we each have our own writing space. You also must have mutual respect for each other’s work, and it can’t have a dollar amount attached to it. If one spouse is more successful than the other, then in a family budget, the work of the more successful partner may take precedence. And if a sacrifice of time must be made, then that sacrifice should be made willingly. In promotional activities, for example, perhaps only one of us is needed for the actual event, but the other will go as well, to provide emotional support.
Running the household. If both husband and wife are working, and both are at home, then there should be an equitable division of labor. Start by deciding what household chores you might actually enjoy doing. My husband likes to cook, and is very good at it. He makes breakfast every morning, sometimes preparing a dish he learned to enjoy while he was in the army. It’s called SOS, and he says that means, “Special Old Sauce.” I have a feeling, though, that it means something else. I enjoy working in the garden or the yard. You can also trade off the more unpleasant tasks, one may decide they would rather wash dishes than do the laundry. What about handling finances? Taking care of the car? And if either becomes overwhelmed with their responsibility, the other takes up the slack. In a 24/7 work environment, there can be no imbalance.
We have a Jack Russell named Charley. When Charley makes demands, one of us will have to take him out. We tend to divide this task according to who is at a critical point in their work. If I’m trying to make a scene come alive, my husband will take Charley, and vice versa. All right, this isn’t really what you would call a chore. We live on the beach, and there is nothing more conducive to the muse than walking along the tide line, listening to the breakers crash ashore. So much so that walks on the beach are something we often do together, and it is at such times that we realize one of the true joys of togetherness.
And finally, think how lucky you are to be together, 24/7. This is the person you fell in love with, appreciate that fact, and show that appreciation. Think of it as an office romance “with benefits.”
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