Do You Have a Work Spouse?

Intimate Relationships at Work May Bolster Your Productivity

Do You Have a Work Spouse?

Do You Have a Work Spouse?

By Mark Swartz, Senior Contributing Writer 

Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa. George Bush and Condoleezza Rice. Stacy and Clinton. Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy.

Whether in real life or reel life, work spouses are out there. You've seen them, right? Or maybe you're in such a relationship: Two people who spend most of their working hours together, behaving like a married couple. But despite subtle overtones of intimacy and affection, this relationship at work is strictly nonphysical and nonromantic.

Having a work spouse is not uncommon. Surveys indicate that an increasing number of employees report being involved in platonic office "marriages," and in many cases, the work wife or work husband is already romantically partnered outside the office. Although such relationships may boost productivity and personal motivation, it's essential to maintain a chaste and professional bond. Knowing what works and what doesn't will keep you both on track.

The Benefits of Work Spouses

Unfettered by the usual entanglements of an amorous relationship, these partnered colleagues can work together seamlessly and accomplish more, often faster. In addition, work spouses enjoy these benefits:

  • The comfort of such a reliable rapport can be a soothing antidote to stressful workplace interactions.
  • A confidant who understands and accommodates your preferred work style.
  • The ability to freely suggest and shape ideas without fear of embarrassment or reproach.

Not Always a Blissful Union

There are potential perils in having a work wife or work husband. Topping the list: The temptation to let the relationship at work go beyond professional bounds and become an office romance. That could spell disaster, especially if one of you is already romantically involved with someone else. Never mind the nasty break-ups that could result if things go sour. 

Other potential downsides of this intimate work relationship: 

Tend to All Your Relationships at Work

If you have a work wife or work husband, consider these tips for heading off misunderstandings or possible damage to your professional reputation:

  • Keep your office door open when working with your office spouse. This small gesture may dispel unwelcome rumors or assumptions.
  • Spend extra time connecting with the other people you work with. Let them feel appreciated and equal.
  • Unless absolutely necessary, limit meals, meetings and business travel between just the two of you.

With a bit of sensitivity and tact, having a work spouse may increase your productivity and even make your job more enjoyable. Just remember to keep the gossips and naysayers at bay by behaving professionally and inclusively.