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Should people use the term(s) work-wife or work-husband?

Should people use the term(s) work-wife or work-husband?
/ Michael Blann / Stone / Getty Images

In a survey conducted by Totaljobs.com, 17 per cent of people surveyed said they have a 'work wife' or 'work husband' while 48 per cent say they have a strong relationship with more than one colleague. 

For the unfamiliar, the terms 'work wife,' 'work husband,' and 'work marriage' entered the lexicon in 1987, when the writer David Owen wrote an Atlantic essay describing a particular platonic intimacy that frequently arises between coworkers who share bonds similar to those of a marriage.

With so many of the quality hours of a day spent at work, it only makes sense that many people might have a colleague who has an intuitive understanding of how they feel and think and therefore can add safety and comfort to what can otherwise be an alienating environment.

As the survey puts it:

“Today people are working more than ever and are asked to tackle increasingly challenging tasks and meet tight deadlines. In addition, open office plans encourage more team interaction and mentoring schemes foster knowledge sharing. Given this high-stress work environment and new workplace structures, people are turning to relationships like work spouses to help them handle the pressures and isolation. Work spouses make people feel safe and supported, as well as help them to get more done.”

While there is nothing necessarily wrong with having close friendships at work, there is potential for them to become unhealthy. In fact, according to relationship expert Tracey Cox, some of these relationships are having a serious negative impact on real marriages.


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