by Meridith Levinson

Who’s Your Work Wife?

Dec 19, 20083 mins

She’s the Pam Beasley to your Jim Halpern (before they started dating), the Liz Lemon to your Jack Donaghy, the Mary Richards to your Lou Grant.

She cleans up your messes, gives you perspective, and she tells you when you need a breath mint, when you have food stuck in your teeth and when your fly is open.  

She is your work wife, and I want you to tell me about her.

Inquiring minds wanna know.  

I first heard about the work wife phenomenon about a year ago from my friend Stephanie. She referred to herself as our mutual friend Steve’s work wife. Though I had never before heard the term, I immediately knew what Stephanie meant. Stephanie is a very together woman who had a high-powered job working in television in NYC before moving to Vermont to take a marketing job in a completely different industry. Steve is a bon vivant, an all around great guy and wonderful husband and father, but he’s also the kind of fellow whom I can see needing a very capable woman like Stephanie by his side at work.

CareerBuilder wrote about the work spouse trend last month. The job board defined the work spouse as someone with whom you share inside jokes, whom you confide about your personal life and work issues, who finishes your sentences, and who’s honest with you about your personal appearance. According to a survey, 23 percent of professionals say they have a work spouse.

Having a work spouse can be good and bad for your career, according to CareerBuilder. On the positive side, your work spouse is a close, supportive friend who helps relieve stress and who makes coming into the office fun. On the negative side, such a close relationship could inspire rumors, and if your actual spouse gets surprised by it, he or she could get jealous.

I asked my husband last night if he has a work wife. “I don’t need one,” he said. The closest person he has to a work wife is a quirky web designer named Andrea, whom he characterized as his “work sister” because they kid around and tease each other. He then joked that his work wife was his outside-of-work friend and screen-writing partner Phil.

I can’t say that any of the fellas I work with would qualify as my work husband.  (I’m sure they’re all breathing a sigh of relief.) When I need to dish or kvetch, I generally go to one of the ladies. Or to my real husband.

So, who’s your work spouse?