Monday, August 30, 2010

Marriage Mondays ~ Work Life, Work Wife?

Does your husband have a "work wife" or do you have a "work husband"??? As people spend less time at home and more at work, the term "work spouse" has become rather common. When polled a group of workers, they found 1 in 10 say they have a "work spouse," and 20% admitted it creates jealousy in their real marital relationship. Earlier studies reported up to 23% of workers said they have a work spouse. Sadly, I didn't have to go to to know this is an issue today. I've heard too many stories from wives who realize their husband has developed a relationship at work that is unhealthy, and some of these turn into full blown affairs that take much work, time, forgiveness and grace to recover from.

Now if you have the image of your hubby asleep on the couch, chip bag in hand, mouth open wide and snoring, it might make you giggle to think he would have a work wife! But YOU once found him your prince charming, so we know he has those qualities lurking underneath the remote on his chest, somewhere underneath the razor stubble. Many men tend to be "at their best" in a workplace environment where they feel respected and productive. I admit my husband is cuter now than when I first found him, and I find it all too possible that someone would love to have him be her "work husband" ... but she would have to get past me first. :)

According to a work spouse is someone who:

  • You depend on for office supplies, snacks and aspirin.
  • Shares inside jokes.
  • You are bluntly honest with about appearance, hygiene or hair. You're very comfortable with each other.
  • When something eventful happens at work, this co-worker is the first you seek out for a de-briefing.
  • At breakfast, lunch and coffee breaks, your closest co-worker knows what to order for you and how you like your coffee.
  • You and your co-worker can finish each other's sentences.
  • Someone in your office knows almost as much about your personal life as your best friend or real-life spouse does.

Many women I talk to live with some measure of fear about their husband being: 1) married to his job 2) intimately related to someONE at the job. Is that true of you? 1 John 4:18 says a characteristic of real love is that it casts out fear. This can be harder if we are in a season of life when we have come home, and our husband is out in the work force. Some women feel isolated or out of touch with their husband's work world. Even if you both work in separate environments, it can be easy to feel distant from each other's work lives and concerns. Can you relate?

We have an example of a "holy woman" who managed to keep the love of her husband, despite the temptations. Abraham really did find a sort of "work spouse" in his wife's maid Hagar, so Sarah learned the hard way that inner beauty and respect for her husband would help her do "what is right without being frightened by any fear."

1 Peter 3:5-6 (NASB)

For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.

What are you doing at home to help your husband at work? Many women deal with workplace pressures of their own, or they work from home and deal with challenges there, but let's talk about how to be "his woman at work." How are we helping our husbands succeed in work:

  • professionally
  • socially
  • spiritually

Being informed, interested, & involved are keys to giving our husbands the encouragement, freedom, and help they need to meet their potential as godly men in their work.

Professionally ~ When a wife takes time to understand WHAT her husband does and how he is challenged, it shows she respects and admires him. It shows him his efforts are appreciated. As that happens, his bond and commitment to his admiring wife are strengthened.

Socially ~ The quality of our work is better when we have co-workers we enjoy and feel comfortable with. It's not a sin for men to develop friendships and good working relationships at their employment; in fact, it's part of their job. It's also part of a good testimony. I always say that the women who work closely with my husband aren't "allowed" to be his friend, unless they're my friend, too. :) It's a package deal. Him AND me or no him at all. That doesn't mean I spend 40 hours a week in the office, but it means I know their names, I care about their lives, I pray for them, I take a meal to them when needed, I pick out gifts given from the TWO of us, and when I stop in I see them as well as my hubby. If there's a work function to attend, we're there together. You may not get a paycheck from the same account, but you can still be his "career companion." That safeguard gives him the freedom to have good relationships with co-workers.

Spiritually ~ A wife can encourage a husband's spiritual thinking about his work by asking how she can pray for him in his professional tasks, sharing scripture she reads that applies to his challenges, and seeing his work as part of his service to God in leading his home. No matter where he spends his work day/night, we want him to look forward to coming home to US! Do you pray for the success of his business, his boss, his co-workers, his decisions? He needs to hear your appreciation for him serving through working; when was the last time your husband heard you pray a prayer of thanks for his job and his hard work?

Pick one of these steps to take:

  1. Ask your hubby today about what he's working on, and then listen ...
  2. If you can, plan to stop by his work this week for/with lunch (see what day is good 4 him)
  3. Call/text him during the day to tell him you're thinking of him
  4. Say YOU would like to pray before a meal, and pray for him, his work, his boss, his co-workers

Are you fearful or suspicious about a "work spouse" or relationship? There are definitely boundaries for a man to set and steps he should take on his own at work, but his woman for LIFE can also be his woman at WORK, and that helps him a lot, professionally, socially, and spiritually.

Are you informed, interested, and involved? Are you encouraging your husband in his work professionally, socially, and spiritually? What are your challenges to being informed and involved in your husband's work life? What's working for you?

Let's be women who hope in God, even when it comes to our husbands at work,

Congratulations to Mary Joy chosen by to win a copy of Voices Behind the Veil!

4 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Micha said...

Fabulous post. Thank you for sharing, and teaching :-)

TeriLynneU said...

Love this, Julie! I find it ironic that most women are deeply concerned about what is happening at their children's school and yet never give a thought to what is going on in their husband's workplace. Thank you for this spot-on post ... and for making it so practical.

Kristi Stephens said...

Wow - this is SO GREAT, Julie. I love how you emphasized practical ways we can support our husbands. So TRUE!!!

Mary Joy said...

Oh wow first of all...I am so excited that I won!!!! This is a subject we have been talking about in my sunday school class lately and I am so excited about getting a copy of this to read myself and then share with my class!

Secondly...EXCELLENT article! My husband works from home from the computer...but it is still important for me to stay on top of what is going on with him and who he's met lately and do my best to be there for him. I want to be his favorite research assistant and be an encourager to the others he works with...they are getting to know us as a package deal more and more each day as we just married in April. But when I worked in the corporate world...about 10 years ago...this was something that was a great issue. I was an executive assistant and single working with many men including my boss. There is a very fine line and sometimes women who work with men need to be the one to reach out to the wife to develop a relationship if you think that might help better establish that "fence". One way to do it for women in the work place is to make a practice of not going to lunch or coffee alone with another man who you work with. They may think its odd but sometimes it necessary.