To most people, the idea of a “work husband” or “work wife” is harmless and often very helpful. However, with latest incident in the polity particularly the Tonto Dike and Mercy Aigbe saga where allegations have been raised about people working with their partners. The issue is what is this new work spouse phenomenon and is it really shady or harmful to relationships particularly marriages.First, a work spouse is a co-worker, usually of the opposite sex (or same sex if you’re gay), that you have a close relationship with. It’s usually platonic so there’s no sexual intimacy but it’s so close, it mimics marriage. In a recent survey conducted by Totaljobs.com, a staggering 71.5 per cent said they thought a lot of people already had a ‘work wife’ or ‘work husband’ without realising it. And they’re having a big impact on real marriages.Seventy per cent of employees say having friends at work is the most crucial part of a happy working life. Having a work spouse means you’ve got a cheerleader when work is tough, a sounding block, someone to go to if you get awful news and someone to talk to if you have problems at home.Also, since we spend more time at work than anywhere else and often stay connected even when we aren’t there through email, text and social media. We consequently sometimes know our work colleagues better than our partners.
When you’re with someone for eight hours every day, five days a week, you know the ‘real’ person.Yet as innocent as most of this work relationship can be, they can become dangerous to your marriage and here’s why:
Men are often more honest with their work wives: Studies show couples who say they are loved ‘warts and all’ by their partner are much happier and committed to those who think their partner puts them on a pedestal. Lots of men think they’re doing the right thing saving the ‘best’ of themselves for their romantic partner but it destroys relationships rather than nurtures them.
2. We are closest to the people who know the most about us: If your partner is chatting intimately about his life more to his work wife than you, your relationship is in danger.
3. Familiarity breeds lust and love: Most work spouse relationships start out innocently: most people never expect it to turn into an affair or romantic relationship and are devastated if that does happen.But it’s easy to see how it does. You initially make friends because you have a similar sense of humour, outlook on life and personality. You watch each other’s back at work and trust grows, you become reliant on each other’s opinion, realise just how much you miss them if they’re off work. Even if you don’t feel physically attracted at the start, research consistently shows the more time we spend with someone, the more we are attracted to them. This doesn’t mean all work spouse relationships are dangerous but it does mean it’s more probable there will be some sort of ‘moment’ when one or both will be tempted to cross the line.
4. Just like real marriage, work marriage doesn’t always run smoothly: Even if the relationship doesn’t become romantic, there are still problems. The real spouse often feels shut out and jealous of the relationship. Work colleagues may also feel sidelined by the two of you being so chummy. If you fall out with a partner, you can dump them or leave and they’re out of your life. Fall out with your work spouse and it’s not so easy to get rid of them. You’re forced to continue to work, awkwardly, together which makes the whole office tense.People often develop romantic feelings for platonic friends over time. If one of you falls for the other and it’s not reciprocated, every day of work is agony. You’re forced to pretend all you feel is friendship when every part of you longs to be with them; if you’re on the other side and it’s obvious they’ve fallen for you, it’s horrible watching them hurting and knowing you’ve caused it. If you both fall for each other and are already involved or married, professionally and personally you’re headed for a highly stressful time with bosses, other work mates and family and friends judging you.Photo Credit: Getty