To most people who know me, I think it’s fairly evident. I love my wife Kelly. A lot. She’s beautiful, funny, smart, talented and she has impeccable taste in life partners. Like all marriages, mistakes are made from time to time. But I always forgive her and move on.
Now that my re-declarations of devotion are out of the way, I also need to confess something else. And it’s precisely because of the security and trust I feel in my marriage that I can say this.
Turns out, I have a work wife.
Her name is Bridget. But to protect her anonymity, let’s call her Holly. Even though Holly is about a decade younger than me, our demographics have a lot in common – we’re both happily married to supportive spouses, we have young kids and we’re living in St. Paul suburbs.
So what makes her my work wife? First, let’s define our terms. A work wife, or work husband for that matter, is someone who provides a completely harmless, entirely platonic relationship that helps keep you sane 40+ hours a week, while also providing for your many workplace needs. In my case, these needs typically include:
- CHEEZ-ITs at 10 a.m., breakfast of champions
- Gum at 10:30 a.m.
- Help manipulating Excel spreadsheets. (Math sucks.)
- Wardrobe advice (Are my white ankle-high socks geeky, or should I just go sockless for the rest of the day?)
- Commiseration and cheap therapy when work gets ugly.
- Postage stamps.
- Change for the Coke machine.
Yes, Holly fulfills all of these needs for me. And she does it without attaching those messy, ridiculous demands often placed on traditional marriages. Pressures like remembering to leave your spouse with a full tank of gas or properly soaking and scraping your chili-caked bowl in the sink before throwing it into the dishwasher.
Instead of writing me unnecessary little notes like, “Don’t forget it’s your turn to drive to dance tonight,” Holly writes me helpful notes like, “Here’s how much of your budget you’ve already spent. You owe me one billable hour for figuring this out.”
Like most of my previous relationships with women, I was very slow in realizing I had this formal connection with Holly. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I finally realized she had become my work wife. We were standing in our office parking lot, and she was helping me identify which one of my brake lights had burned out. In full accidental adult mode, I stepped to the back of the car to see where she was pointing, and the open (but locked) driver’s door swung shut, leaving me locked out of my running car, with no spare key. Of course, Holly knew what to do. She called AAA and assured me her membership services could apply to my car as long as she stayed with me and signed for it. Acting remarkably similar to my real wife, she even told the tow truck guy not to scratch my car when he was snaking his unlocking device through the window. I drive a 1998 sedan with 145,000 miles and 155,000 scratches on it. That’s funny stuff Holly.
Clearly, I value my work wife. So what does Holly get out of the relationship? I think one time I proofread something for her. Another time, after she complained that her office windows were too streaky, I wrote a “Wash Me” message in soap from the outside. (She was three months pregnant with twins and totally missed the humor of my hijinks.) And once I thought about brushing the snow off her car after work, but then I got distracted. Really, I think it’s the thought that counts.
But whatever I bring to the relationship is not what’s important here. What matters the most is that my work wife will continue to be there for me 9 -5, Monday through Friday. At least I hope she stays put. I’m bound to lock myself out of my car again, and like most accidental adults, I still don’t have AAA.