The Cringy ‘Work Wife’ and ‘Work Husband’ Relationship

I just read this article in The Atlantic about the Work Wife/Work Husband relationship. Just uttering those words gives me pause and makes the hairs on my arm stand up (thankfully, I don’t have too many, even though I’m Greek). I seriously disdain this notion that you have a a spouse at work with whom you share your innermost thoughts, your lunch, and inside jokes. It’s creepy, and it’s a slippery slope.

I am not the jealous type (#sayseveryone), but I’d be legit annoyed to find out that my huz’ was swapping secrets and getting cozy with his coworker. Swapping secrets leads to swapping spit (ew), and I know from some of my friends’ experiences, this actually happens: affairs.

The author of The Atlantic article, Stephanie H. Murray, poses an essential question: Why would two people who aren’t married or even interested in dating call each other “husband” and “wife”?

Well, a variety of answers were provided, but the key one, in my opinion, is that you can have intimacy with this person without actually having to share a household. Your Work Husband can’t get annoyed that you leave stray hairs in the shower and scatter half-full seltzer water cans around the house. Your Work Wife doesn’t know you leave the toilet seat up, and that your actual wife falls into the toilet at 3 a.m., or that you fail to take the garbage out, even when it’s toppling over in the kitchen.

These traditional husband and wife idiosyncracies are lost on your officemate. Instead, they see you dressed up, showered, and at your best, when you’re articulate and contributing to your job. They don’t wake up next to you with mascara running down your face, listen to your rants, or check out your muffin top when you take off your sweater.

“Honey, is Terry at work pretty? You spend a lot of time with her.”

Lucky for my spouse, I work remotely, so the only Work Husband I got is my dog, a tiny papillon named Poppy. He’s hardly a threat. We DO eat lunch together, take long walks on the beach, and cuddle. But, I know too much about him, including his bathroom habits, because I have to pick them up with a bag. Oh, and, yes, he’s a dog (kind of like your Work Husband).

I wonder if the pandemic and hybrid/remote work models really clamped down on these office relationships. I bet many missed them, who were forced to stay home and reckon with their real spouses. Didn’t they say a bunch of folks got divorced in 2020? Well, with unemployment rates on the decline, looks like there could be a surge in work marriages.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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