Working From Home With A Disobedient Spouse

When we first decide to transition from an outside job to a home-based job or business, some of us may encounter a quandary — an uncooperative and difficult spouse. Even if our spouse is generally pleasant, we may become embroiled in arguments and battles for control of our own careers.

While this can be aggravating, it is critical to remember that our spouses are unlikely to be difficult for no reason. More likely, they are expressing concerns in erratic ways. If you suspect this is the case in your own household, you may want to open the lines of communication and encourage your spouse to explain why he or she does not want you to work from home.

The following are some of the most frequently expressed concerns, along with suggestions for resolving them:

Income reduction. Your spouse may be concerned that you will earn less money than you would in a traditional job. Regrettably, this is true in the majority of cases. Telecommuting jobs typically pay significantly less than office jobs. Even if you start your own business, earning a living can take time. If your spouse earns enough money to cover household expenses, he or she may be willing to accept a temporary reduction in your income; however, if your spouse’s income is insufficient to cover all expenses, you may need to compromise on your desire to work at home in order to avoid going into debt and causing financial hardship for the family. Possible compromises include working a regular part-time job while also working on your own business after hours, or working a regular part-time job while also working a part-time telecommuting job from home. Additionally, you can focus on saving enough money to cover your income loss during the first few months of working from home. Aim for at least six months, if not a year, of your normal salary, depending on the type of business or job you are pursuing.

Making Sacrifices for Luxuries. Your spouse may also be concerned that with less income, he or she will be forced to forego extras that your salary enables, such as entertainment, dining out, and more expensive vehicles. This is also a valid point of contention. While the majority of us spend far more than we need to on recreational activities, it is also unreasonable to expect our spouses to forego the minor pleasures of life. If your spouse is willing to collaborate with you on your desire to work from home, you may be able to agree on some temporary sacrifices. You and your spouse will need to discuss your financial situation and determine what you are both willing to sacrifice. Additionally, you can find inventive ways to replace the items you have sacrificed. For instance, rather than dining out three times a week, limit yourself to once a week and then prepare more creative family dinners at home, experimenting with new recipes to keep things interesting. You can rent movies to watch at home instead of going to the theater, or spend the day at a nearby park rather than paying admission to an expensive amusement park.

It Is not Actually Work. One of the most infuriating experiences is having our spouses believe that we “work at home” all day. They may believe that we want to spend the entire day at home with the children, watching television or conversing on the phone. If you are not yet working at home, convincing your spouse that you intend to work can be difficult; however, you could try explaining the type of work you intend to do, the number of hours per day you intend to work, and the amount of income you intend to earn. This can assist them in putting it into context in quantifiable terms. If you already work from home and your spouse views it as a game, it may be beneficial to have him or her sit down with you for a brief period of time and demonstrate what you do. Paychecks, in my experience, were the tipping point. When my husband realized that I was earning money, he began to take my work more seriously.

Everything Is a Scam. Unfortunately, many of our spouses are skeptical of work-at-home opportunities due to the prevalence of scams. Worse yet, if they know someone who has been victimized by a scam or dubious business opportunity. They may have the erroneous belief that all work-at-home opportunities are the same. In these instances, you can show your spouse legitimate companies that hire telecommuters’ websites or have him or her read job listings on a work at home community. Again, once you start earning money, this fear will vanish.

Jealousy. Believe it or not, your spouse’s concerns could be the result of a sublimated sense of jealousy. Why should you be allowed to work from home in your cozy sweatpants while he or she has to trudge off to a miserable job every day? Particularly if your spouse dislikes his or her job, they may object to your working from home while he or she deals with arrogant bosses and office politics. This is entirely understandable, and many of us would likely feel the same way. Although this is a difficult objection to overcome, it is doable. Perhaps you can speak with your spouse about assisting him or her in transitioning to a home-based career as well, in which case both of you would eventually work from home. Your spouse may be willing to make a compromise by allowing you to grow your business to the point where it can support the family and then allowing him or her to pursue their own entrepreneurial endeavor. Additionally, you can co-found a business and work on it in alternating shifts. For instance, you can work on the business for a few hours during the day while your spouse is at work, and he or she can work on it in the evenings. On Saturday mornings, you can both work on it together. Once the business generates a sufficient profit, your spouse can return permanently.

Finally, I believe that our spouses wish for our happiness in our work, just as we wish for theirs. We may need to work a little harder on them to convince them that working from home is not only possible, but also beneficial for everyone. If none of the above suggestions convinces your spouse, you may need to put some numbers down in black and white and demonstrate the cost of working outside the home. You may need to list the benefits of having one parent at home, or you may need to convince them to give you the benefit of the doubt and allow you to prove your ability to make it work.

I wish I could say to you, “Your career is YOUR responsibility; no one else’s,” because that is my sincere belief. That is easy for me to say because I am not the one living in your household and dealing with your spouse’s hostility!

The reality is that everyone in your household will be happier if you and your spouse can reach an agreement rather than continue to argue. If your spouse is adamant about not cooperating with your desire to work from home, you may be forced to make some difficult choices. My best advice is to carefully weigh your options and make the choices that you believe will benefit everyone, including your spouse.

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