John Krasinski and Emily Blunt were refreshingly candid about working together as spouses in a new interview with the Hollywood Reporter. Although the two have gained attention in very different roles — Krasinski is perhaps best known for his role as Jim Halpert on The Office, and Blunt rose to fame playing Meryl Streep’s assistant in The Devil Wears Prada — the actors joined forces this year when they co-starred together in the critically-acclaimed thriller A Quiet Place.
“It was the only idea that had come our way that seemed bigger than our marriage,” Blunt says about doing the movie together. And they affirm that the experience of working together as spouses was actually deeply fulfilling. “There’s a large fraction of stress that is taken out by someone who’s so supportive,” Krasinski adds.
The couple has specifically avoided doing joint interviews over their eight years of marriage in order to keep their careers distinct — but after working together on the movie without compromising their relationship, they agreed to sit down together. They also share their secrets for successfully integrating their home and work lives, and for creating healthy space within the relationship. “We’ve always allowed and rejoiced in each other having a very full life outside of the other one,” Blunt says.
While Krasinski and Blunt found connection and success in working together professionally, navigating that level of work-life integration can be stressful for many couples. “Working with a spouse isn’t always easy,” Amanda Rose, Ph.D., a psychology professor at University of Missouri, tells Thrive Global. “It’s important for couples to communicate in general, and it’s even more important in the workplace.”
Even though many couples prefer to keep their professional lives separate, there are ways to navigate working with a spouse, and even to do it in a way that can bring you closer outside of the office. Here are four things to keep in mind:
Having respect for your partner is key in any facet of a relationship, but when you work with your spouse, it needs to come first, Rose says. “Remember that people talk through problems differently, and people make decisions differently.” When you work with your partner, listening is vital in getting to know how they thrive at work. “Even if you feel comfortable with your partner at home, respect the way they work, and make the effort to understand their communication methods,” Rose says.
Set boundaries at home
When you’re living together and working together, it can be difficult to form a definitive line between the two, but according to Rose, defining that boundary is necessary. “Establish boundaries about when you discuss work, and when you don’t,” she suggests. Whether that means creating a “no email at night” rule or a tech-free dinner table, setting a boundary between work and home is vital. “If you allow work talk to take over, you can let other parts of your relationship slip,” Rose says. “It’s important to make the time to be a couple.”
As comfortable as you are at home, treat your partner with the same professional respect that you would use for any other co-worker. “When you’re married, you’re familiar and comfortable with one another, but that could also mean you’re more comfortable criticizing them more harshly — or saying things you wouldn’t say to another colleague,” Rose points out. “Setting boundaries comes with respecting each other like you would respect a co-worker.”
Accept that it might not work
At the end of the day, it’s okay if working with a spouse doesn’t work for your relationship, Rose says. “Realize that you’re not a failure if you try to work together and it’s not for you. It’s important to prioritize your relationship, and if you feel that your bond is suffering from your professional setting, talk it out and admit that it’s not right.” If you find that it’s not working, for the sake of your relationship, don’t be afraid to re-evaluate and make a change.
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