I have collected some sound life advice over the years: Always pee after sex. Be kind to others. Don't date your coworkers.
But uh, what if you were already fuggling BEFORE they became a colleague? It's been roughly six months since my dudefriend and I dropped our office jobs, started our own production company, moved into a studio together, and began working on our first feature film. I always thought living with your partner was hard work, but living AND working with them is a task reserved for the sadistic and/or questionably insane.
It's comforting to come home to your partner after a long day of work and complain about what a douchenugget your cubemate is? But what if your partner IS your cubemate? Then where do you turn? Here is a how-to guide for getting creative with your partner without breaking up or, uh, you know... murdering them.
Separate work and play. It's hard to create together or get work done if you've been fighting about bills all morning. Likewise, it's hard to snuggle up to your partner after dinner when you're still stewing over the newfound information that they never actually filed for that LLC four months ago. It's impossible to force creativity, so in order to keep your brains positive and juicy, talk work at work, and home at home. This is easier if you...
Create a work space. In our tiny studio, we have a very large dining room table that we never eat at. Instead, we've piled it high with electronics and scripts and the obnoxious neon sticky notes that reveal the contents of my brain. The table has become the office, and when we're at the table, it means business. Having a space dedicated to being creative helps us focus. And by “focus,” I mean we're less likely to get lost on Reddit or indulge in a little mid-afternoon fellatio.*
Make sure criticism is constructive. In my work relationships, constructive criticism is the only type of critique I dole out. However, in my romancey relationship, I am much more likely to gripe about things in a super obnoxious fashion - the dishes piling in the sink, the half-made bed, that time my guy fell asleep mid-fingerbang. Just kidding. That never happened. Not more than once.
Anyway, it's hard to keep negative criticism from transcending into the workspace. If I don't like a particular edit or am having trouble with the audio, a grumbly “this scene totally sucks” is not productive. Instead of spurring a creative discussion, it will make my guy defensive and will probably lead to an unprofessional mid-afternoon argument. This is really hard to remember when I'm used to grumbling “your chin hair is all over the sink again.” So before you open your mouth, ask if your comment will be helpful or hurtful. This leads me to...
Stop nagging. Nagging is criticism's snaggle-toothed cousin. If you wouldn't nag another colleague, don't nag your partner when you're working together. Again, this is hard, cause I'm sort of a nagger. In order to avoid nagging, it's helpful to set deadlines and production meetings just like you would for a traditional work relationship. That way you can make sure you're on track without pestering or being pestered.
No work in the bedroom. When you live with your biz partner, it's really easy to talk work all day and night. While I don't have any kiddies, I think this is what parenthood will be like. While you used to swap dreams and ideas and argue over politics, now all you talk about is marketing strategies and festival deadlines and is little Lucy hanging out with the right kids because that little girl from dance class is sort of young for eyeliner and maybe it means she's sexually active?
Make sure to get some alone time. Whether you're working or playing, you can't be together all the time. All of that togetherness won't breed a creative environment. My guy has made what he calls his “command center” below our house. He goes there when I am driving him ballistic with my type A workaholism. Make sure to get some alone time that doesn't involve Instagramming from the toilet.
While it's been a bit rocky, my guy and I have managed to work cohesively together without breaking up or slaughtering one another. In my totally biased opinion, our project is pretty good, too. Actually, this has been one of the best creative relationships I've ever had, and I think that's mostly due to the fact we actively try and respect each other--and the creative process--the way we would if we weren't marinating in each other's juices after-hours. So, have you ever worked with your partner? Any advice?
*Okay, I lied about the mid-afternoon fellatio. There are several pluses about working at home with someone you have sex with. This is one of them.