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Love At The Office

Work Spouse - Is This Happening In Your Marriage?

If your spouse has someone at work who he or she talks to or talks about, or is spending unreasonable time and attention toward that person, you may suspect love at the office or that your spouse has a “work spouse”. Both situations are potential issues. Let’s explore love at the office in more detail.

Love at the Office and the Work Spouse

First and foremost, avoid relationships of closeness in order to stay away from love at the office or setting up a work spouse.

Wikipedia defines a work spouse as:

“A work spouse is a co-worker, usually of the opposite sex, with whom one shares a special relationship, having bonds similar to those of a marriage; such as, confidences, loyalties, shared experiences, and a degree of honesty or openness.”

Work Wife or Husband Is Not a New Concept

The concept of the work wife and work husband is not new, of course. There was a 1930’s novel and movie, The Office Wife, in which (quoted from the IMDB plot summary):

“The personal secretary/stenographer spends more time with the busy executive and makes more decisions than his wife ever will. This creates a bond between the secretary and boss that the wife can not (sic) hope to equal.”

Can a Work Spouse be Platonic?

A work spouse could be platonic, I suppose, but the situation courts danger.

One of the common scenarios I hear is where the relationship is platonic, even for years, and then some event will take one or both people over the line and their affection spins rapidly out of control.

Another common scenario is when the relationship is reportedly platonic, but the situation really bothers the regular spouse, who in this scenario is the wife. So much time and attention is given to the work wife, and the office wife is so important in the husband’s world, that the actual wife feels her role is threatened.

At the very least, the situation demonstrates to the regular wife the potential for how attentive and communicative the husband could be, but isn’t with her.

Should it Matter? It is a Work Relationship, Not Personal

What risk levels are you willing to accept in your life? If your marriage is important enough, I would think you would want to protect it, even against what might seem to you now as a low-probability occurrence.

An Example From Smokers

Do you smoke? Some smokers live to a ripe old age. Smoking, however, has a negative health impact on almost every system in the body and increases the person’s chances of developing cancer or breathing disorders multiple times.

For a beginning smoker, he never knows which cigarette might be the one to push him over the edge into addiction. For the experienced smoker, he never knows which cigarette might be the one to begin the cellular changes leading to permanent cellular damage. By the time the smoker knows he has a problem, it is often too late to save him.

Comparison to Office Spouse

The situation of the office spouse is similar in that when the person knows he has a problem he has already crossed several boundary lines and it may be too late to save the marriage.

Is it Unfaithful to Have an Office Spouse or Office Love?

Your analysis of your work relationship depends on your definitions of infidelity and how much risk you are willing to expose your marriage to. If you would ask me about a work spouse and being unfaithful, my answer is based on decades of experience hearing numerous heartbreaking stories.

My answer has several considerations, two of which are highlighted here:

First, consider your marriage promise. In my opinion, the marriage vow you both made was an intellectual agreement at the highest level of trust to protect your love. Even when your relationship is bad or even awful, you committed to cherish each other and to protect and be faithful to the marriage bond you made with each other and to do everything possible to make it wonderful again.

Second, your marriage commitment includes making each other the primary person in your life. In most situations, this means considering your spouse’s feelings and your spouse’s sensitivities above all others.

My answer, not surprisingly, is yes, I believe that having an office spouse at least pushes the boundaries toward being unfaithful.

What can I do? My Spouse Has a Work Spouse

You can begin with talking it out. If you only end in arguments, you might try a self-help program, which will give you some ways to structure your discussions. I address this, among other things, in my self-help program Survive an Affair.

Some of you will need more than this structure to get through the discussions without arguments. Sometimes a clergyman or a mental health professional can be helpful.

If you want personalized, professional help and you want to work with me, you can contact me or call 410-654-1300 (toll-free is 866-654-1300). I practice in Maryland, and I offer both marriage counseling and marriage retreats for couples from all over the world.

I wish you courage, strength and success in rescuing your marriage,

Free Marriage Tips

You can learn more in my free marriage tips. Some relevant tips can help you learn about creating marriage boundaries and strengthening the fence around your marriage.