Do you have a close relationship with someone at work? Not just a professional relationship but an intimate, personal one? Today, there is a new social phenomenon called, “The Office Spouse” when a person engages in a special relationship with an opposite sex coworker. Although the relationship is not technically considered an “affair” because they don’t engage in a physically intimate relationship, office spouses share just about everything else with each other outside a bedroom.
It begins innocently enough. You spend more time at the office than at home. More of your waking hours are shared with this trusted coworker than your own husband. He knows about your family. You have him on speed dial. Texts are exchanged all hours of the day and night. There are things you share with each other than you don’t share with your own spouses. Mainly things about your spouses.
It feels nice to have another confidante you can trust. Often there is an underlying physical attraction, too, and that adds a certain excitement to an otherwise boring work day. And when there are problems in your marriage, at work you have someone else to turn to, someone who doesn’t press you to uphold your marital responsibilities.
Office spouses deny that their relationship is a threat to their marriages. They may or may not admit that there is a sexual attraction to their office spouses, but they always insist that even if there were, they would “never act upon” their attractions because they “are married.” But intimacy is a dangerous area to venture into with someone outside your marriage. When you are angry or disappointed with your spouse and run to another man who offers relief and sympathy, feelings can grow where none existed before. Intimacy *is* a type of bond. Soon, sexual tension quivers between you two, making the taboo relationship even more tempting.
Do you have an office spouse? If your husband had a close intimate relationship with a coworker of the opposite sex would you feel uncomfortable or threatened? Do you feel it’s appropriate for married people to have close, intimate relationships with people outside their marriage?
When I was getting my master’s degree, I spent time with a married man who was also going through the same education program. We became friends, shared resources and soon began to have a more social relationship. When my husband voiced his uneasiness, I couldn’t understand why he was making a big deal out of it; after all, there wasn’t any physical attraction between us. But when my husband asked how I would feel if he had a friendly relationship like that with a woman, I saw his point immediately. I respected his feelings and ended the friendship.
On the other hand, my husband has no problem with my friendship with a man I’ve known since middle school. He is like a brother to me, and an uncle to our children. It is possible to have close friends of the opposite sex. But you know, if you’re honest with yourself, the difference between your feelings for a good friend versus a possible spouse-like replacement.