Two office love birds

Of work wives and work husbands

Have you ever heard of the term work husband? Or work wife?

‘Work spouse’

The term came into being a while back, and addressed the fact that people who go to work often have a ‘replacement spouse situation’. Not in the most real sense of the word, of course. Just that there is someone in the office who you hang out with, have lunch with, roll your eyes about the boss with… and if there is an end of year office party, they are the ones you are most likely to be with the most – much like a real spouse.

A lot of the time, it isn’t something serious. This is just a person who you connect well with, a friend who is a little less than a friend because you don’t usually see them outside of work. Or maybe a friend who is a little more than a friend, because they excite you… a bit. You look forward to seeing them and laughing with them at work, at your own private jokes. It’s mostly harmless.

Is it serious?

But when you don’t have significant other waiting at home, the sparks sometimes fly and things get a little bit more serious than office hours powwows. It’s bound to happen – you spend a lot of time together, you share common ground and common gripes. You get each other, it seems, above and beyond the endless paperwork constantly on your desks.

Office relationships: banned

Most corporate offices ban relationships between office colleague in their human resources policies, but you can never really stop that sort of thing in a place where people are working together in close quarters, can you? In a situation where it is not a power play that involves a promotion or departments in direct contact, romances can blossom organically and non-threateningly – non-threateningly to the people involved’s jobs, I mean.

Does it work?

Do workplace romances work? It depends. The ones that do seem to be the exception as opposed to the rule. And there is always the problem of either having to report yourself to HR or making someone quit their job for the sake of the relationship.

Then, what if you decide to keep it secret but, heaven forbid, you have a huge, heavy, messy break-up and because you violated HR policy, both of you get fired anyway? That would take the break-up to an entirely new unfortunate level!

There are definitely people who step past that quagmire and have fulfilling relationships with someone they got to know at the office. After all, most couples meet at work, through friends, at church or social gatherings – and work is a great place to see how people act under pressure, towards authority, and towards subordinates. It’s a great place to study someone’s natural behaviour when in command.

It would be kind of mean, actually, for companies to dictate that this very large chunk of life cannot hold future potential. But of course, the reason they do this is because of the potentially explosive nature of these romances.

So before you let Cupid hit you, you might want to renegotiate your contract in your favour at the very beginning, or at least be well-versed indiscretion and coping tactics just in case things go bad.
Because if they do – which we, of course, hope they won’t – the very least of your worries will be who gets to keep the potted plant you bought at the flea market.

Have you met your partner at work? Share your story below or on Facebook.


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LoveMatters Africa

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