I’ve never understood jealousy. When I was 15 and experiencing ‘love’ for the first time, I was with a very jealous person. If anyone ever had the audacity to look at me, he and I would fight about it for hours. Since I had no basis for comparison, I thought this was what young relationships were supposed to be like, so I put up with it. (Despite every person I knew telling me that it was NOT normal… but they didn’t really understand anyway…) Once I freed myself from said jealous (read: abusive) relationship, I vowed to never put up with that crap again.
Years later, I met the man who later became my husband. We were both going through the final throes of our respective dying relationships, and we bonded over what we were ‘never going to do again’. Jealousy was mine. We talked about how pretty much all of my friends were male, and my next boyfriend was going to have to accept that. As he and I became very close friends, he began to understand my personality, and the fact that I’m a charming person – regardless of the gender of the person I’m speaking with. He used to joke with me about my ‘work husbands’ (not to be confused with my ‘work boyfriends’ and ‘work side action’) These were the guys who could pretty much always make me laugh, and failing that – could at least prevent me from killing someone at work. These guys were very important to me and my career, and he not only understood it, he embraced it as part of the Abby Package when we finally got together.
Some people I’ve encountered are uncomfortable with the concept of ‘work spouses’. They think that to even joke about it makes a person a philanderer who is bound to cheat on their spouse at the first opportunity. While I can’t speak for everyone, I can at least try to shed some light on the importance of these relationships. I don’t think I could get through the day without my ‘work husbands’.
Okay, let’s get the easy argument out of the way first. I know that I only have one husband. He’s the person that put the ring on my finger and vowed to be with me forever and ever. We have a special bond that can’t be broken. That doesn’t mean that I can’t have a friendship at work with a person of the opposite sex that can make me feel better when I’m sad, make me laugh when I’m angry, and take me for a walk or buy me coffee when I’m at the end of my rope. I don’t choose who he is, I don’t favor one over the other – the ‘work husband’ sort of just figures his way into the role, and we move on.
Sure, many people would call these people ‘friends’, but ‘work husbands’ tend to go the extra mile. This is not a bad thing. This saves the *real* husbands from having to deal with every little bit of drama that happens at work – leaving only the really juicy bits or particularly ‘interesting’ things for you when she gets home. Can you imagine if you *didn’t* have that ‘work-husband’ buffer? Believe me… you don’t want to!
Now, the difficult argument – for those with the ‘flirty wife’. I’ll admit that I am a bit of a flirt. Well, that’s an understatement… I’m a total flirt. I smile at people when I walk by, I laugh at jokes, and I generally enjoy making people feel good when I’m around. I’m pretty charming! It is so deeply ingrained in my personality that I have no idea that what I’m doing is considered ‘flirting’. I’m just being nice, and so are they. (My husband and I had this conversation when I didn’t understand why he had any trouble getting assistance at Home Depot… EVERY employee at Home Depot is awesome and very helpful!) As the kind of person who wants everyone to be at least comfortable where they are; I tend to go the extra mile to create a warm and inviting environment whether it’s at work, Starbucks, the gym, or the train home.
I do spent quite a lot of time at work, and usually with the same group of people, so I tend to create bonds with people over a period of time. This is where the ‘work husband’ comes in. My work husband and I usually go to lunch together, talk about whomever may be on ‘the list’ today, and generally take a break from work. We enjoy the diversion from work, tell stories, eat some food, and then go back to work. Sure, we may get a little more flirty than some would prefer, but a safe and respectful distance is always kept, and clothing is always required. (no shirt, no shoes, no service!)
My husband actually prefers when I have a work husband. He doesn’t have to spend all of our time together listening to my work stories about people that he’s never met, so our time together is better quality time. Also, there is something about getting flirty compliments from a person who is not married to you – it feels more genuine somehow. If I’m feeling particularly ‘bleh’ one day, my husband can tell me how beautiful he thinks I am for hours, and a part of my brain will think “yeah, he has to say that because he’s my husband”. On the other hand, a work husband can say it once and it makes all the difference! I’m sure many husbands can find something like that intimidating or annoying; but my husband appreciates that at least *someone* can make me feel better, and he gets to enjoy the benefits of me being in a better mood.
It’s all about perspective, and I hope that when your wife comes home, telling stories about someone who could qualify for the role of ‘work husband’ I hope that you can appreciate the gift that has been given to both of you.
About the Author: Abby Dryer's goal in life is to bridge the communication gap between men and women. She finds herself giving lots of marital advice to her guy friends whose wives don’t want to have to explain *everything* to their husbands. “Women are hard to understand. I’m a woman, and *I* don’t even get us sometimes! Goodhusbanding is a great guide to help men understand their women, and hopefully communicate with a little more confidence, because that’s what works… communication!”