Ask Doist: I Get Frustrated Working on Home Projects with My Wife Who Has Disabilities

A recent retiree wants to know if she should bring her corporate experience managing projects to her personal relationship

Ask Doist Home Projects Banner Margarida
Illustration by Margarida Mouta
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I’m recently retired and I’m trying to get some home projects handled. My wife is an engineer with disabilities who wants to be in the middle of a lot of the plans, but is also not entirely able to help execute. So this is a question about making progress when paired with someone who simply can’t move at the same speed I do – but there are, in fact, still things that need to get done.

I’m trying to leverage my corporate experience (when I was dependent on someone working, say, 25% time on a project, or a manager who fussed too much over the work I was handling). But it’s not totally translating, and I thought perhaps you or others might have some insight to getting things done efficiently but with kindness toward those around me.

Your question is a tricky one. I’m always very leery of applying management advice to personal relationships. In my experience, romantic partners do not take kindly to being “managed” and they always know when you try. 😅

At work, you’re always trying to optimize and get more done to maximize revenue, or whatever your business goals are. But at home, the quality of your relationships should be the number 1 priority, full stop. Plus, you’re retired now! Maybe it’s ok for projects to move a little slower, or to take on fewer of them, if it means you and your wife get to work together on things you’re both excited about. I can imagine that not being able to move as fast as you’d like because of a disability is hard for her. Her feelings are more important than a home project getting done fast.

That said, I totally get the desire to have projects of your own that you can work on at your own pace. It’s healthy for spouses to have their own projects and interests. Maybe you could have two projects going at the same time, one that you work closely with your wife on and one that makes more sense as your own personal thing. Perhaps it’s redecorating a room in the house that’s mostly yours or taking up a crafty-handy hobby that’s just for you. That way, when you’re waiting on your wife’s help or input on your collaborative project, you can switch to working on something you enjoy that you have full control over.

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