When Your Husband/Wife Is Your Co-Worker

“Me? Work wid my wife? Not a ——–!”

“Ofc mi woulda work wid him… at least mi coulda si what him doing…”

Hey don’t kill the messenger here. Pay attention to the message. These are just two of the responses I got when I asked some friends how they’d feel if they could work in the same organization as their significant other. Funny enough, the way I’ve introduced the topic seems a bit stereotypical – the man sounding like he has something to hide; the woman thinking there must be something to discover. But as I said, don’t kill the messenger. Sometimes a jus so life go.

Recently I’ve been through a lot of interviews, and I find it odd that with all the Do’s and Don’ts the interviewers outlined, they didn’t mention keeping my professional and personal lives separate. Maybe they think I’m sweet and innocent? [By the way, I am 👼].

Going into a new environment, you’re hoping to make a good impression, especially if you hope to stay there for awhile. But that’s kinda hard to do if your partner works in the same place. For those who don’t have this experience, take my word for it – it’s better not to risk putting yourself in this situation [unless the pay is too good to reject, then by all means, carry on]. On the other hand, if you think you’re both mature enough to handle it… [Keep in mind that age doesn’t define maturity, how you handle the lessons learned from experience does. I’ve met nuff younger ladies who are better able to tackle life than I am, due to our differing experiences. Similarly, I’ve met older men who are quite on par with immature boys, and vice versa per gender].

I’ve also been in situations where I’ve either shared work spaces with my significant other / actually had to delegate duties to that person. The struggle I faced included trying not to fume when we disagreed on certain points, and also masking my emotions when the people around me were fully aware of my relationship with that person. In a business setting, it is expected that the mind is focused on the furtherance of the company. Cussing your partner in the middle of a meeting doesn’t contribute to that. Also, knowing that your relationship is the topic of gossip can add an extra burden that might discourage your productivity level.

In one situation though, we both were hyper-aware of the primary goal to get our jobs done. Being close actually helped that. When you and your partner share a certain level of synergy, things tend to flow. Not saying there weren’t disagreements and contentions. But somehow, this one just worked. If you’re lucky enough to be in a situation like that, no doubt your bosses might even think of giving you extra credit, based on how much you’re able to put in as a team.

I do get why persons would try to avoid this kinda scenario though. But I also see why they would favour it. Let’s look at both sides:

The positives

– People are multifaceted. Each facet is unique to someone’s personality and contributes to the reason why you’re attracted to that person in the first place. But if you’ve never worked in the same environment as that person, then you’ve never seen one important facet of their personalities.

Where am I going with this? Well the workplace is just one place where someone’s drive gets revved up [I’m sure you can figure out the other place *winks*]. Seeing them being truly ambitious about achieving their long and short term goals is a welcome motivational sight. It could push you to follow suit. It could even be a turn-on.

– Working together could strengthen the relationship. There’s a reason why you’re called ‘partners’ – your relationship takes work to build and maintain.

– As mentioned before, if the synergy is tight, things are sure to flow and that’s certainly a plus if, as a team, you actually have a direct positive impact on how much profit the company earns.

The negatives

– If the ‘significant’ in the term ‘significant other’ has an overextended meaning in your relationship, then you probably feel it’s obligatory to always make your partner feel happy. This means that even while at work, you’ll be careful [for eg.] not to step on his/her toes by talking to that one coworker who he/she thinks is trying to flirt with you.

But then your boss pairs the two of you up on a very important project that you can’t pass up, your partner gets furious, despite you being unable to change things, and as soon as you get home, [in the words of Bounty Killer] “people dead”. Not only does this contention put a strain on your personal relationship, it also threatens how well you do at work and what rewards you could get.

– You might feel like there’s a hawk perched on the back of your chair. I’m sure this one doesn’t need explaining.

Image source: jamiedornanews.com
Image source: jamiedornanews.com

– You might be so sexually attracted to that person, that, for example, [for men] you find it extremely difficult to concentrate when a certain tight skirt swishes by. Then you hand in a report you were working on, in which all the figures are jumbled and none of the paragraphs make sense. You never know just how important getting that 12 correct instead of typing 11 is, until you either don’t get a bonus for continually messing up, or you get fired.

Finding middle ground

I’m not really sure what else to say but that the ground in the middle of a work/personal relationship has to be maturity. If you don’t have that, then just don’t apply for a job where your partner works [again, unless the pay is gooood].

A very important point that one of my past coworkers, Marja, made is that it’s good to miss people sometimes. So I guess if you’re not into “see[ing] him all day at work and all night at home” then there you go. On the other hand, another of my past coworkers, Kimani, pointed out that it can be fun – “sneak a little lovin here and there.” Again, if you’re mature enough not to get too caught up, while ensuring that your work hours aren’t jeopardized,  then do what you must.

If you can help it though, if no one at the new workplace knows who you are in relation to that significant other, then don’t let them. In any case, make sure to do as much research as possible on the type of environment you’re getting into, so you can kinda gauge how people would react to the knowledge of your relationship. In my opinion, I’d keep that to myself.

What would you do?


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