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Wife at work: How to make sure that a work relationship doesn’t threaten your relationship at home!

With the amount that we all have to work nowadays, it can be really hard to maintain romance in long term relationships. In addition to this, because we are all working so much all the time, there has been a phenomenon that I have started to notice in many of the clients that come to me for help in repairing or maintaining their relationships with their significant others. I was introduced to the term “work wife” and “work husband” a few years back when I started to work with a client who was starting to feel romantic feelings for what he called his “wife at work.”

Just this morning I was working with another client who was struggling with the same type of situation, so I felt that the topic warrants its very own article. We spend so much of our time at work so it’s not uncommon for people to develop deeper relationships with their colleagues. For some people, there is one person of the opposite sex in particular with whom they develop a closer relationship at work, and it is not uncommon for the lines between “harmless relationship” and “inappropriate relationship” to be blurred.

Because this is such a common theme, I wanted to write today’s article on what a work spouse is, how to handle it in a way that does not damage your relationship with your romantic partner, and what the dangers are.

What it means to have a wife at work

As I was saying, a work spouse is someone with whom you develop a relationship with at work. You work together all day long, you have deep and meaningful conversations, you share high-pressure situations, and you find solutions together, so it becomes very easy to create a bond. You have fun together, you have a friendship that feels natural, and many times you actually spend more time with your work spouse than you do with your actual spouse.

Some people will have a work husband or a work wife that turns into a best friend, but there are some cases in which a person is putting themselves at risk for emotional or physical infidelity.

Their partner at home might feel uncomfortable as a result of this work relationship and might even start to wonder about things like, “How to tell if your wife is cheating at work” or “Is my husband falling for his work wife…?”

communication in marriage

So this is why it’s very important to keep an eye on boundaries and what you may or may not be feeling for the person you’ve become so close with at work. If you are taking your emotional intimacy that normally you would be sharing with your romantic partner, whether it is your boyfriend, your girlfriend, or your spouse, and are giving it to your work wife or husband, you’re putting yourself at risk for emotional infidelity.

What exactly is emotional infidelity?

We all know what physical infidelity is, but what about emotional infidelity? It’s interesting because each person is going to have their own definition of what it actually is.

For some people, it would count as being emotionally unfaithful if a person if having sexually charged conversations with another person, and for others, they’d view intimate conversations about personal matters with a member of the opposite sex as emotional infidelity.

It’s very important to have a conversation with your significant other about both of your definitions of emotional and physical infidelity because you both need to be on the same page. This is especially important if you’ve found yourself with a relationship with someone at work that you could call a “wife at work.”

So let’s take a look at how to steer clear of falling into a situation that could cause irreparable damage to your relationship with your significant other.

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How to make sure your relationship with a work wife or work husband doesn’t cross the line

It’s great to develop meaningful friendships with the people you work with because being able to work in a positive environment makes a huge difference in your quality of life. You just need to make sure that it doesn’t threaten your relationship with the one you are committed to at home.

So what’s a good way to do this?

Not crossing a line with a work spouse: Keeping things strictly work related

The absolute easiest way to avoid any hiccups in these types of situations is to make a conscious effort to keep things strictly business. Talk about work related issues and steer clear of going into emotionally charged topics. You can still be friendly and open while steering the conversation away from topics like your personal relationships, your romantic background, or even your current relationship.

Be aware of the dynamics you create between you and your work spouse. For example, avoid one on one dinners together in restaurants. You can have a meal at the office together and it will keep things feeling less intimate and will make it easier to strike a healthy balance. If you want to go to a restaurant and you feel that it might be a little ambiguous, why not invite more people?

Avoid alcohol to keep things platonic

Everybody knows that alcohol lowers our inhibitions. If you’re feeling that you’re getting very close to your “wife at work”, steering clear of drinking together can do a lot to keep things from becoming the opposite of platonic.

Sure, a glass of wine or two probably won’t cause much damage, but avoid drinking in a way that would start to affect your decision making process.

Invite your significant other

If you have a work spouse and even more so if you are seeing signs a coworker likes you, try to include your significant other more. Not only will this help to set boundaries, it will help your partner to feel more at ease. It will be clear that you aren’t hiding anything and that you want them to be there with you.

I worked with a client not too long ago who was struggling with the relationship between her boyfriend and his colleague. She was hearing everything second hand from him and because she was struggling with insecurities within herself, she was interpreting the relationship between her boyfriend and his coworker as something more than platonic. As you can imagine, this caused a great deal of tensions in the relationship until her boyfriend started to invite her to the work functions where she’d be able to meet and spend time with the coworker (and everyone else).

It didn’t take long for my client to come to realize that the relationship between Michael, her boyfriend, and Alisa, the colleague, was nothing more than two pals that really hit it off at the office. Interestingly enough, My client, Rosaline, is also friends with Alisa now.

So it’s really important to be empathetic to how your spouse might be viewing the situation and I encourage you to put yourself in their shoes. Do what you can to set their mind at ease and include them whenever you can. I can honestly tell you that the more involved they feel, the better it will be for your relationship.

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A wife and husband can have friends at work

There is no rule that says that you cannot entertain friendships with members of the opposite sex at your work place. In fact, as I said above, it’s actually very healthy to cultivate an environment in which you feel happy to be around the people you work with.

This is especially true because the lines between your home life and your work life have become particularly blurred in today’s day and age, and you might actually see your colleagues more than you see your family. It’s very easy to dive into conversations with your colleagues every single day and to delve into topics that allow you to get to know each other better.

It can be as simple as coming into work after the weekend and your work wife asks you how your weekend was. Because you two have developed a closer relationship, you might start telling her about how you and your actual wife got inot a nasty fight. This is the kind of thing that could actually create space between you and your spouse and bring you closer with your work wife, and this is the type of thing to be aware of.

It can be something that happens over time and little by little, you might start to realize that your work spouse knows more about what’s going on in your life than your significant other.

So I encourage you to really keep your eyes open and to pay attention to the dynamic you’re building with your colleague(s) – and I encourage you to be especially careful if you feel that you might be entertaining a relationship with someone at work that you wouldn’t necessarily feel comfortable telling your significant other about.

This is one of the things I tell my clients who are working on infidelity prevention in their relationships. We all have different definitions of what emotional and physical infidelity look like, but if you’re doing anything that you wouldn’t want to tell your partner about, chances are that you’re crossing a line. It’s also important to keep an eye on whether or not you’re being honest with yourself about how much you’re sharing with your wife at work and how much you’re sharing with your wife at home.

Also, pay attention to how many excuses you’re making in terms of your relationship with your work wife. Are you justifying the relationship to the point where it feels like you’re trying to cover something up?

The key is to always keep your eyes open, be honest with yourself and with your actual spouse, and make sure that you aren’t doing anything that feels like you should be keeping secret. An easy way to avoid problems is to include your significant other and be open with them.

If you’re starting to cover things up, there is probably a line being crossed. For example, let’s say your wife at work is texting you on off hours but you lie and tell your spouse that someone else is texting you… Well, at that point you’re covering it up and something isn’t right.

If you aren’t sure of what to do or how to handle the situation, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Every situation is unique and it’s completely normal that you would have questions! We are here to help you every step of the way, so join the Happily Committed Project by clicking here. As a team of dedicated love and relationship coaches, we can help guide you from A to Z.

Interpersonal relationships are very complex, but it is always possible to strike a healthy balance that makes your life feel happy and fulfilling!

I sincerely wish you all the best in life and love,

Your coach when you’re wondering about what it means to have a wife at work

Natalie