Do you have a Work Wife or Work Husband? And if so, is it a recipe for a disaster?
During the last decade or so, the title Work Wife and Work Husband has gained traction in our pop culture glossaries. It’s a phrase that describes a woman or man in the office whom you may or may not be close to who plays the “role” of a spouse while at work. This often means that they are attentive to your needs, asks you if want something for lunch, helps you out even when it isn’t warranted, and basically dotes on you throughout the day.
This person plays the husband or wife character quite well, and may make a day at work easier for you, and even fun too. But, it can become a confused portrayal, as the lines between business and personal could get skewed.
I am here to break down the real truth about work wives and work husbands in hopes that it not only clears up confusion, but acts as a guide to anyone who is currently undergoing this type of relationship. Symbiotic, playful, or not, it’s a must-read for anyone who is employed and works with others.
Myth: Work Wives and Work Husbands are the precursor to an affair
If you are in a Work Wives and Work Husbands type of relationship, there are plenty who think that it will lead to something else. The closeness and bond that you two share in the office will most likely spill out into personal territory. This exchange is destined to go from the board room to the bedroom, and will break up your family and/or your relationship.
Truth: Not true. At least, not always
Work wives and work husbands can be a platonic entity that serves you both well while you are at work. It can also teach you a thing or two about your own relationship, and how to pay attention to that special someone once you are off the clock. This type of office situation doesn’t exclusively mean that it will transfer into a soap opera type of event where the both of you are stepping out on your spouses or mates. As long as you make sure those boundaries are not crossed, your Work Wife/Work Husband scenario can still thrive and be totally colleagues/coworkers/friends only.
Myth: If you have a Work Wife or Work Husband, you are
The reason why you have this type of person at work is because you can’t get one in real life. The attention that you crave from a Work Wife or Work Husband is surrogacy—you’re not getting it from home, so boom.
Having a Work Wife or Work Husband doesn’t mean you are in need of attention, lonely, or pressed. It’s usually the opposite, meaning that you are a person that invites comfort, friendship, and partnership during work hours.
Myth: You spend more time with your Work Wife or Work Husband more than you do your real one.
With 40+ hours a week spent in the workplace, you are spending more time with your Work Spouse than you do with your real one. This could create trouble in paradise if you aren’t careful.
Truth: Correct. But it’s all about quality over quantity
It’s hard to fit in 40+ hours during the week with your spouse, especially if you have a growing family and other responsibilities. But, it doesn’t mean that your work relationship supersedes your real one. Make sure that you and your spouse are spending quality time together when you can. Create memories, go on dates, cuddle and get cozy, and try to get away whenever you can. This will make for a joyful union and a stronger connection that will last a lifetime.
Myth: You must be attracted to your Work Spouse
Since you guys are in a partnering relationship at work, it means that you are attracted to one another. Why else would you be connected in this way?
Truth: Not necessarily
You could be attracted to your work spouse, but you don’t have to be. In fact, oftentimes in Work Wives and Work Husband relationships, it’s not about attraction at all, but a need to have a comforting person in your corner throughout the day. At my last job, I had a Work Husband and he was gay—we were not attracted to one another at all, but he always had my back and I was there for him when he needed me. It wasn’t about magnetism or enchantment, but about us having inner-office support and camaraderie.
And if you do find your work spouse attractive, that doesn’t mean you are going to blow it out of proportion. As humans, we are attracted to many people, but it doesn’t mean there is anything more to it than that.
So you see—having a work spouse isn’t necessarily bad at all. As long as the two of you are professional and don’t cross any boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed, your Work Wives and Work Husbands status is perfectly okay.
So glad you brought up the variables that could make or break the seriousness of work interactions. How each person views the interaction (i.e. if someone REALLY is love with their coworker vs. just genuinely a nice person) and the boundaries (if any).
The Cubicle Chick says
In my days of HR management, I’ve seen it all. As long as the two people in the “spouse” relationship are on the same page and keep work first, there shouldn’t be any problems. 🙂
I disagree, working for one of the largest corporations I have seen many work spouse relationships go from friends to affairs due to the stressful environment. It is not professional in my opinion. In reference to time at work and then time at home… no comparison. The work spouses are always on their game, no need to argue about Noel issues at home take time out for kids homework, sports , food shopping, and finances. In a 24hr period, 8 hours of sleep, 8 hours of work a couple of hours to get ready for work, cook and clean after work lawn and general maintenance etc the married couple is lucky to get a couple of hours together. Work spouse get 8 hours a day of sheer pleasure, bright and alert. No bills to discuss and no disappointment of any type.
Ashley E Law says
Biggest load of bull. Don’t listen to this malarkey. If you want to justify your actions of why your flirting with a coworker then don’t create a blog saying it’s okay to convince others.
It is most definitely not. There is other forms of cheating other than physical cheating. Bet the spouse 9 times out of 10 is not getting near the attention this work spouse is. I can almost guarantee it. I don’t see you explaining how to discuss a work spouse with an actual spouse either in your blog which is a huge red flag. Of course, there is not a section on how to do that because you know already what a real spouse would say to this.
Kind of a big deal to leave that out, eh?
It 100% depends on the people involved.
I have a “Work Husband”. Flirting is different. We don’t flirt, but we’re close. We’re together up to 12-14 hrs a day. Sometimes longer. We’ve worked together 100 hrs in a week. Being friends, trusting each other, anticipating needs and wants, knowing each other so well that we can order lunch or shop for each other when the other is busy, having great communication and respect makes it possible for us to do our jobs. We work in TV/film. Days are loooong and the pace gets hectic. It’s refreshing to find someone that you can truly team up with for the long haul.
We grew up about 4 hours from each other. We share generational, geographic, and life experiences. He’s single, 44, and quite handsome. I’m (female) 42, married, and attractive. We respect boundaries and keep it light, but professional.
My husband loves him, knows that there isn’t a physical attraction, and is happy for me that I have such a great professional partner. We all hangout outside of work and they get along really well.
More importantly… my husband trusts me. I think it’s also important to have a genuinely happy marriage, which we do. 17 yrs together and we’re still each others favorite people to be with.
I have two great guys in my life. I know they both have my back and I feel safe with them. For a woman in a mostly male industry known for treating women poorly, that speaks volumes. It’s all very positive and on the up and up. Life and work are good. 🙂
I think it largely depends on the industry and context of how the two people interact.
I work in healthcare and my regular schedule includes working on weekends. We have a skeleton crew on weekends especially and often rely on each other. There is nothing sexual or inappropriate about it. My “work husband” is married and I knew that from the time we met. Our friendship is based on being trained together to handle a crisis on Saturdays and I don’t think anything of it. Once our shifts are up, we don’t interact outside of work.
I do think it would be different if we had traditional jobs that were 9-5. But for our industry and specifically working in a hospital on the weekends, it makes sense to have a specific coworker you go to when you need something.