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article imagePolygamy may be good for career people: The Work Spouse

By Nikki Weingartner     Feb 19, 2009 in Business
For quite some time, work relationships being kept separate from home life have been an issue in the area of extra-marital affairs. But what about having a purely platonic "office spouse?" Some interesting psychology reveals controversial beliefs.
Of course it doesn't require two ceremonies with all the pomp and circumstance, but a marriage at work may benefit your union at home as far as some theorists believe. The terms "Office Spouse" and "Work Spouse" may be more than just a joke these days as an article on AOL revealed.
Citing 2007 survey results from the popular career-based website, it seems as though nearly a quarter of respondents have an "office spouse" and that the marriage is often as emotionally supportive as the romantic version wrapped around the left hand ring-finger. Furthermore, other unnamed studies were cited as showing that office flirting helps boost that ego and self-esteem, which in turn increases productivity both at home and on the job.
Of course, having a work spouse is more than simple jokes and fun, as they are a uniquely bonded individual who can relate and provide needed emotional support during stressful times.
Signs that you have a work spouse are not necessarily office flirting. In fact, CNN ran a piece last fall listing the seven deadly sins, or signs, that a marital relationship at work exists:
1.You depend on a particular co-worker for office supplies, snacks and aspirin.
2. There are inside jokes that you and a specific co-worker share.
3. You can be bluntly honest with this person about his or her appearance, hygiene or hair (and vice versa). You're comfortable enough to point out that the other's hair is sticking up -- or that someone's fly is down.
4. When something eventful happens at work, this co-worker is the first person you seek out for a de-briefing.
5. At breakfast, lunch and coffee breaks, your closest co-worker knows what to order for you and how you like your coffee (and vice versa).
6. You and your co-worker can finish each other's sentences.
7. Someone in your office knows almost as much about your personal life as your best friend or real-life spouse does.
Still, it may seem all chapel bells and bouquets, but for the "real" spouse its not all pretty, with countless tales describing how jealousy creeps in as one spouse talks about his or her involvement with the "other." And although the polygamous individual of sorts may continually tell their legal partner not to worry, the truth is that experts believe that emotional relationships are just as damaging, if not more, than a physical sexual encounter.
A follow-up piece provided some real-time responses that showed a different side to the term "work spouse." Both men and women showed their disgust, calling it another name for adultery, explaining how the communication about the work spouse actually ended up revealing an affair between the two and telling of how listening to a romantic partner talk every day actually will reveal the truth in whom they are cheating with. The common link is that the real husbands and wives were all lied to about the work spouse, being told that it was nothing but a platonic or working relationship.
How does a spouse at home put their mind at ease when some experts list the number one cause of extramarital affairs as "men and women spending so many hours together interacting at work?"
One of the key factors in determining whether or not a spouses' work marriage is about to cross or has crossed a dangerous line is whether or not they keep secrets from the real spouse. Are they acting differently around the work partner than they do around their romantic partner? Are they exclusively flirtatious with the work spouse? Do they compare the office spouse to the real spouse? Are they talking to their real spouse about their work spouse or do they hide things?
For those who have a "work spouse", stepping back and asking themselves those simple questions may also help flag a dangerous liaison in the making. Furthermore, identifying what is more emotionally healthy and what is essentially a lead-in to a caustic relationship that could destroy the work environment as whole is very important.
Having a working spouse may be a short-term benefit for the individual and even the corporation, feeding an emotional need that somehow extends beyond a normal friendship but not quite crossing over into the category of "with bennies." But in the long run, does the "office spouse" really balance out a home life or does it serve as the impetus to what may be a crumbling union?
The answer is behind the veil.
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