I think we’ve all heard of the office husband/wife dynamic, which many of us in our respective workplaces have had the privilege of experiencing. While I was fully aware of the work marriage phenomenon, it wasn’t until I read Seth Stevenson’s article in this month’s GQ that I realized there’s such a clear etiquette to the process.
In his article, Stevenson lays out a number of guidelines to follow when considering your next office marital partner, a task he was suddenly forced to undertake when his office wife unexpectedly up and quit one day. In my limited experience, the most important and applicable rules here are that one partner should be in a relationship, both work partners should remain monogamous and that you should never marry up or down the organizational ladder.
I’ve been fortunate to have a work marriage at essentially every stop in my early professional career, with each undoubtedly helping me maintain some perspective and much-needed sanity in the workplace. I can’t say they’ve explicitly followed Stevenson’s guidelines, but they’ve been pretty damn close which is why they’ve been so successful – no divorces yet! And as strange as it probably sounds, I’m pretty sure that I’ve become a better partner in actual relationships because of my work marriages.
So, if you aren’t currently invested in a work marriage, take a good look around the office and get on it. You don’t know what you’re missing!