By Mary Lynn Bruny

I bought some printer paper recently and told my husband I bought the cheapest brand. He replied, “That’s okay since most our printing is for internal use only.” What? Internal use only? I think for a moment he forgot I was his wife and thought I was his work associate. This is kind of understandable for a number of reasons even though it’s slightly disturbing.

First: We were work acquaintances before we started dating a gazillion years ago. (We met at the Design Engineering Show in Chicago, then basically a gathering of thousands of the world’s geekiest males. I was one of about five female attendees; we got noticed.) Second: I do a few computer-related tasks for my husband that supposedly his system can’t (or perhaps he chooses not to because I will). Third: He is my first-line editor. So we are literally in each other’s business.

But being quarantined together 24/7 while both working from home has somehow changed our dynamic. Having no kids around or a social life to divert us, we seem to be sliding into a work zone. Sometimes it feels like our house is now the corporate headquarters of Bruny, Inc.

For instance, our dining room has become a meeting room. If we need to spread out projects or review things for each other, this is where we go. If someone swapped out our antique dining chairs for modern black leather swivel ones that seem to be in most corporate conference rooms, I’m sure neither of us would notice.

Our kitchen is definitely the break room that we both meander to, mainly to kvetch about work stuff and gossip. You know, just like every employee in every company in every town in America does. “Oh, my gosh, you should have seen Tony’s hair today at our first quarter update tele-meeting! It looks like his toddler cut it!” We don’t have the requisite water cooler but we always have some old smelly leftovers in the refrigerator someone forgot about, just like at the office.

We now also both have “Do Not Disturb” signs that we put outside of our office doors during tele-calls. This became a rule after I walked into my husband’s office clad in a robe while he was on a tele-call with an important client. This was mildly embarrassing. Now my husband and I are always properly clothed when entering each other’s offices.
(A sound corporate policy.)

There is one challenge I’m experiencing: I always have a To-Do list of home-related tasks and now my husband tries to hold me accountable. He is use to managing efficient people, and I’m the only person around. I’m not accustomed to this. During “normal” times the guy is gone a lot, and the cat and I lackadaisically run the joint and do as we please.

“Did you follow up with the electrician? What’s his availability?” he asks pleasantly. “What does it matter? We’re always here,” I reply a bit peevishly. “Well, good to keep on it,” he cheerfully responds. Between the cat and me, we’re not having it. We are use to being our own bosses and like it that way. I think of raising a certain finger and telling him, “This is for internal use only.” But of course I don’t. After all, I’m a model Bruny, Inc. employee.

By Mary Lynn Bruny. Mary Lynn writes about local real estate and home-related topics. Contact her by e-mail at [email protected]. To read previous The Lighter Side articles, go to