For a decade, two of our sons were ocean lifeguards. Lifeguarding involves hours and hours of boredom followed by 15 minutes of heart pumpin’, adrenaline fueled rescues.
They tell me about the risk-takers who jump in and ignore the red flag warning of the ocean’s strong undertow. Usually, these risk-takers end up being the 15 minutes of excitement.
Recently, a term has surfaced in my realm, “Work Spouse.” According to wiki, it was coined in the 1930’s as ‘Office Wife.’ In the past 25 years, the male to female employment ratio has come in balance. Therefore, women and men are now peers in the workplace. Hence, a resurgence of this term’s use.
Wiki definition: The Work Spouse is a co-worker of the opposite sex, with one shares a special relationship, having bonds similar to those of marriage, such as confidences, loyalties, shared experiences, and a degree of openness and honesty.
An innocent term, right? How can you not become friends with your co-workers? But, is it just friends?
A SINGLE person in a ‘work marriage’ with another SINGLE person, is a whole ‘nother ballgame. From here on, I’m referring only to MARRIED people in the workplace.
Let’s do some math and see if you’re a risk-taker
168 hours per week
– minus 54 hours SLEEP per week
– minus 50 hours WORK per week (this includes commute time/lunch)
– minus 5 hours RUNNING ERRANDS/MISC. per week
=equals 59 hours FAMILY/SPOUSE time per week
59 personal hours VS. 50 (or more) work hours.
Optimally, 15 hours per week should be spent in alone time with your spouse to achieve satisfactory emotional bonding and remain firmly so. This is a KEY element for a spouse with low sex-drive.
No, I’m not talking about 15 hours of sex, although sex is included. It should be 15 hours of conversation, recreation, or joint projects without distraction of phone, television, or other people. (Willard F.Harley, His Needs, Her Needs)
“WHAT? You crazy, Bonny. I’ve got kids! I barely get 15 hours of sleep a week!!!”
15 hours breaks down to only a little over 2 hours per day reserved for your spouse. More hours than that are spent on the job.
IF there happens to be a ‘work spouse’ relationship going on, it’s possible the Work Spouse is getting far more hours than the actual spouse. That’s jumpin in while the red flag is out. It’s an affair waiting to happen.
To keep a pot boiling, it takes a constant heat source. A pot loses its boiling point when the heat is removed. Those hours of time spent with your true spouse are the heat that keeps the marriage steamy. It’s not always an easy assignment to complete. But, nothing worth doing is easy.
On a basic level, we connect to those we spend the most time with. A co-worker spends lots of time working in the same business. That creates a shared interested PLUS lots of time shared together.
Married people must be aware that an unhealthy connection may develop between a co-worker. If you are not getting needs met at home, this work relationship may feel incredibly good. However, this temptation can lead to the danger of infidelity.
If you have a work spouse, acknowledge it, especially to your covenanted spouse. THEN, get a WORK DIVORCE!
Men and women should highly respect their co-workers and value their input on the job site. But, I believe you are crossing a boundary to name the relationship as Work Wife or Work Husband. This transforms the relationship from work platonic, to work emotional.
The only safe ‘work marriage’ is a homosexual one. Married women should share personal stuff with other ladies at work and men should bond with men.
I will always agree with Harry. In the movie, When Harry Met Sally, Harry is of the opinion men and women can’t truly be friends because of the sexual tension.
God designed male and female to fill each other’s gaps. You will always crave your needs being met by the opposite gender. If your needs aren’t being considered in your marriage, you may start to seek elsewhere. Even good Christians, who know all the Bible verses, can succumb to temptation because it feels so good to get your needs met. These are not just the needs of sexual fulfillment, but the needs of admiration, conversation or affection.
The only way to protect is to put up cemented boundaries with your co-workers of the opposite sex.
“Remember that the workplace is filled with temptation,” Dr. J. Olds, clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, warned. “People feel that ‘temptation’ is an old-fashioned word that has no application in modern life, but it really does. People need to sort of recognize that they’re not always in full control.”
The person you said, “I do,” to should be at the receiving end of the majority of emotional interactions (discussion of struggles, sharing of joy/fears, etc.).
Emotional empathy and intimacy are what make a marriage successful. If the primary deposit of emotional intimacy is outside of the marriage, you may be heading for Noe, Lovejoy & Bickers, Attorneys at Law, or at least a low satisfaction level in your marriage. Low satisfaction levels can lead to temptation.
Guard the heart of your marriage. Avoid swimming in the Red Flag Zone.
Don’t compliment a co-worker of opposite sex on looks or clothes or figure.
Don’t share marital or personal struggles with a co-worker of the opposite sex. If opposite sex co-workers approach you with their personal struggles, politely invite them to share those concerns with a co-worker of the same gender. You may have to get firm with them if they don’t take the hint. Firm can still be in a loving manner, phrasing it so they realize they should be sharing this with their husband or a girlfriend.
Don’t trash talk your spouse to either gender.
Do brainstorm regarding work related issues with both gender co-workers.
Do PRAY that your marital and work relationships honor God.