Work wife, happy life

We’re not talk­ing any or­di­nary of­fice ro­mance. Pla­tonic and emo­tion­ally sat­is­fy­ing, a work wife is the best workplace con­nec­tion you can have

Cosmopolitan (Australia) - - Contents -

WHEN WORKPLACE woes sneak in with the ar­ti­fi­cial light­ing and out­dated tech­nol­ogy, there’s only one thing you can do: head to the kitchen for a cup of tea and a rant with your work wife. Not the Barn­aby Joyce type, but your workplace nu­mero uno. She has your back when work gets too much, lets you blow off steam in a safe place (the clos­est bar) and gives you the lols you so des­per­ately need to make it past 3pm. The catch? There is none! Prin­ci­pal psy­chol­o­gist Lana Hall re­veals the ma­jor emo­tional ben­e­fits to bag­ging your­self an of­fice spouse.


Hap­pily in love? Great! Have the best net­work of friends? #Blessed

Still, no­body un­der­stands your workplace dy­namic like your col­leagues. It doesn’t mat­ter how many times you’ve been through the names, ex­plained the roles and spec­u­lated about who likes who – your part­ner and friends likely don’t al­ways care or they’ve got workplace dra­mas of their own to worry about. En­ter the work wife. ‘Feel­ing un­der­stood mat­ters to us deeply,’ says Hall. ‘Those in the most sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions to us tend to un­der­stand us best. If you can find some­one at work who’s a good fit, per­son­al­ity­wise, a work spouse will help you feel more con­nected, as well as pro­vid­ing a great out­let for re­leas­ing stress.’


Be­ing the per­fect part­ner is hard work. Bal­anc­ing a ca­reer with be­ing emo­tion­ally avail­able, sup­port­ive, so­cial, and sex­u­ally ac­tive is, in a word, drain­ing. So spend­ing time with your part­ner dis­cussing how Karen in fi­nance has been pas­sive ag­gres­sive on email this past week is prob­a­bly not the best use of what can of­ten be lim­ited time with your loved one. This is where the role of your of­fice spouse be­comes key to as­sist­ing your ac­tual spouse (in a non­polyamorous way). It’s their role to talk you through the best ap­proach to bring­ing up your over­due pay rise, keep on top of of­fice goss and read over im­por­tant emails for crazy clients. ‘If you man­age it cor­rectly, hav­ing a work spouse can save your re­la­tion­ship,’ says Hall. ‘Let­ting off steam be­fore you get home frees your mind up to fo­cus on other parts of your life,’ like cou­ple time, where you can gen­uinely bond over things you love, i.e., each other!


It’s all well and good to have a work spouse, even a work hus­band – but there’s def­i­nitely a line. Just ask Jen­nifer Anis­ton. Brad Pitt fa­mously made his al­leged work wife (An­gelina Jolie) his ac­tual wife af­ter spend­ing crazy amounts of time film­ing on Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and it’s a cau­tion­ary tale. ‘If you find your­self telling them per­sonal de­tails that you don’t share with your part­ner, you’re cross­ing the line from work spouse into real­life spouse and that can lead to af­fairs,’ ex­plains Hall.


Con­sid­er­ing how much time we spend at work (close to 2,000 hours a year), it’s im­por­tant for your men­tal health to spend those hours happy. Ac­cord­ing to Hall, be­ing happy comes down to im­prov­ing your life­style bal­ance. A work spouse un­der­stands what you’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing (in real time) and val­i­dates your ex­pe­ri­ence, which is an im­por­tant part of be­ing re­silient to life’s chal­lenges. ‘With a work spouse, you re­lease stress as it’s cre­ated, lead­ing to feel­ings of in­creased re­lax­ation and calm at the time, and avoid­ing the po­ten­tial to get over­whelmed from bot­tling feel­ings up un­til you get home,’ ex­plains Hall.

Fur­ther­more, work­ing some­where that is in­ad­e­quately sup­port­ive can make us sus­cep­ti­ble to de­vel­op­ing de­pres­sion. ‘It’s worth seek­ing out a workplace where you feel val­ued, be­cause this leads to a greater sense of sat­is­fac­tion with your life,’ says Hall.

Toxic work­ing re­la­tion­ships and neg­a­tive work­flow de­stroys con­fi­dence in your­self and your workplace, so find­ing some­one who you can trust at work is cru­cial. ‘You’re look­ing to build an emo­tional and men­tal con­nec­tion with the per­son. Just like your real­life spouse, they don’t need to have a sim­i­lar per­son­al­ity. A com­pli­men­tary style can of­ten pro­vide a great coun­ter­bal­ance to your own way of deal­ing with prob­lems, creat­ing a pow­er­ful unit that can help to make work mean­ing­ful and sat­is­fy­ing.’


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