Ah, Kimber and Todd. My old co-workers at the first grown-up job I snagged in D.C. They were adorable together. They went out to lunch. Shared little private jokes. Stopped by each other’s cubicles seemed like 10 times a day. They were inseparable. From 8:30 to 5 anyway, because they weren’t a bona fide couple. In fact, they weren’t a couple at all.
They were office husband and wife, with legal husband and wife waiting for them at home or a bar for happy hour or wherever you meet your significant other following 8 hours at the ol’ ball and chain. Y’all know I’m clueless, one because I’m not married and two because I've never had the pleasure of working with any man who came close to being something to hang out with daily, let alone flirt with. But I hear they do exist.
The dynamic of an office marriage sans the romance (and sometimes the work) is very interesting. And a little dangerous.
When you spend more time boxed by the four walls of your office or cozy little cubby hole of a cube than you do parked on the cushy living room furniture you shelled out darn near a month’s salary for, you’re bound to develop some bonds with folk. Because let’s be honest: it’s hard to keep your business to yourself when you work in an office.
The pictures of your adorable 5-year-old framed on your desk lead to chit chat about the renovations you’re doing on your house. That leads to a confession on how strained your relationship has been over the last six months. And that then sparks a teary release of all the pent-up stress you’ve been stifling because you’re so misunderstood and underappreciated.
OK, maybe not all at one time and maybe not all that detail. But spilling your guts to a select person or two, even if it’s just on a really bad day, is part of the nature of the office environment. I’ve always been amazed at how open colleagues can be with one another just because, in the bubble of an 18-room suite, you get mighty familiar with each person’s habits, mannerisms, attitudes, interests, and abilities. It’s like Survivor but without the bugs and sweat (at least I hope it is). People might talk in hushed tones about their — and their co-workers’ — business, but they’re steady talkin’ nonetheless.
Finding a person of the opposite sex that you connect with is a nice little reprieve from the mundane hem and haw of your real-life relationship. Heck, in a survey conducted back in 2006, 32 percent of respondents admitted to having a work spouse. Sounds like they can be rewarding, honest friendships (emphasis on friend), but it’s all built on fantasy. That’s why everybody gets along so doggone well, not because he’s especially charming or she’s particularly funny. It’s an escapism from the rag tag, run-of-the-mill BS you and your hubby — the one you exchanged vows with. Yoo hoo. Remember him? — hash and rehash day in and out.
You and Work Husband never have to argue about bills because there aren’t any, except maybe a tab at a local bar from regular rounds of drinks. Can’t bring kids to work so you’re not bickering about who’s picking little Timmy up from band rehearsal or how Rachel is going to get from her doctor’s appointment to cheerleading practice. All of the extraneous factors that can add stress to a relationship are stripped away, leaving only you, your office beau, and a stack of files or two to giggle over. Xanadu.
I’m not saying office marriages are right or wrong. I’ve never seen them go haywire, even though most people I know who are very clearly party to them never want to admit they’re in one— even if it’s with a gay guy who would never, ever, ever have interest in his work wife in that way. I just think we need to take them for what they really are and definitely nothing more.
When women start romanticizing the office marriage and pulling out qualities they think are better i.e., “Jeff has remembered my anniversary and Valentine’s Day two years in a row — and my husband has not” or “I bet Eduardo would never leave his funky socks draped across the back of the family room sofa” or “Biff works out four times a week and it shows. Frank works out four times a year and yeah, that shows too.” It just seems like having someone around to so easily compare your real hubby to is playing with fire.
Do you have a work husband? Would you be jealous if your husband had an office marriage?
Image via GraceFamily/Flickr