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Monday, August 12, 2013

Mystery Of The Work Spouse

Wikipedia defines a “Work Spouse” as (edited):
″Work spouse″ is a phrase… referring to a co-worker, usually of the opposite sex, with whom one shares a special relationship, having bonds similar to those of a marriage…

Social documentation:
In one 2006 survey, 32% of workers said they had an "office husband" or "office wife". A CNN Money article characterizes the relationship as having the "immediate intimacy (of marriage) without the sex or commitment". One source characterizes the relationships as "platonic, close, opposite-sex couplings, with no romantic strings attached”…

Sociological and psychological implications:
With so many of the quality hours of a day spent at work, having someone there who has an intuitive understanding of the pressures, personalities, interactions, and underlying narratives of the workplace society can add safety and comfort to what can otherwise be an alienating environment.

"Work marriage" appears to be a genuinely caring relationship fostered by the propinquity effect and associated with love-like feelings and possibly limerence. Some "work spouses" admit that sexual attraction between them is present, but is not acted upon, and the sexuality is "channeled" into a productive collaboration…

My personal opinion on all this:
A work spouse is perfectly acceptable, as long as it remains just that and nothing more! And while the term usually refers to someone of the opposite sex, it really doesn’t have to be.

After working in one place for so many years I could name a few people who I have considered to be a work spouse, both male and female, at one time or another. Occasionally I’ve even had more than one at a time! Some of those relationships have faded out now, while others have turned into pretty good friendships. Obviously, I feel that if a true friendship develops outside of the workplace, platonic or otherwise, I would no longer consider that person to be a work spouse but I guess you always share those roots in the end.

As mentioned above, having someone there who has an inside view of your workplace can be very helpful and encouraging as well as comforting at times. A work spouse often shares empathy rather than sympathy and, in my experience, this can help things resolve quicker than bringing your problems home to a disconnected significant other. Besides, you already spend so much time apart because of work, why bring these issues home if you don’t have to?

And yes, admittedly, a significant others work spouse is harder to accept when their relationship includes traveling together, sharing hotels, etc… but if the trust is there and communication remains open then there is nothing to worry about; ok, well, there is always a LITTLE to worry about but you just have to move past the insecurities and see the bigger picture I guess.

A work-spouse-turned-close-friend recently asked if any of these work spouse relationships have ever given any spark to my real relationship with DH and the honest answer to that is NO! In my case they never, ever, have… unless I allow myself to think about you specifically LOL!