Work Wives and Husbands – Are They Acceptable? - American Society of Employers - Mary E. Corrado

Of Interest…

Work Wives and Husbands – Are They Acceptable?

Have you ever had a work wife or work husband? Not everyone agrees that these close work relationships are acceptable. A new poll by Redfield & Wilton Strategies shows that opinions on work spouses vary by generation.

Apparently more than half of millennials disapprove of these relationships – 57% of them to be exact. However, most Gen Zers and Boomers are fine with it. When combining all generations in the poll, only 21% say having a work spouse is OK.  45% disapprove.

Last February, The Atlantic published an article titled The Bizarre Relationship of a ‘Work Wife’ and a ‘Work Husband’. The article quotes researchers M. Chad McBride and Karla Mason Bergen who describe these relationships as “a special, platonic friendship with a work colleague characterized by a close emotional bond, high levels of disclosure and support, and mutual trust, honesty, loyalty, and respect.”

My guess is that those who disapprove of such relationships are viewing them as potentially romantic. However, most often, they remain platonic – although some marriages have resulted!

So, do you have a work spouse? Consider these 12 signs that Business Insider lists as cues you have a work spouse:

  1. You’re inseparable at work.
  2. Your relationship extends past the office.
  3. You have inside jokes.
  4. You gossip together.
  5. You go to them first with any news.
  6. You know their secrets – and they know yours.
  7. You’re real with them.
  8. You help each other out.
  9. You stick with them at social events.
  10. You think about them a lot outside of work.
  11. You’re terrified of them meeting your real significant other.
  12. You talk about them constantly.

Career Coach Hallie Crawford suggests the following tips to ensure you keep any work spouse relationship professional:

  1. Be up front about what the relationship means to you when you're communicating with them and always provide clear boundaries between work and personal issues.
  2. Don't do or say anything to them you wouldn't want your spouse or significant other to know about.
  3. Keep physical contact to a professional level --a handshake, a pat on the back -- and be mindful of what's appropriate for your corporate culture and your relationship with that person as a professional.

How do you feel about work spouses? Email me at [email protected].


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