I confess, I have several work spouses – those special people of both sexes at work with whom I share confidences and problems with a great degree of openness. Since I work in the internal service division, my prime goal is to make every customer across cities and countries feel special. Ergo, I have several partners in success and failure and it’s hard for me to choose one partner. We share similar opinions, we bitch about problem characters and we giggle uncontrollably at situations in which we find ourselves stuck.
Every time I tried narrating to my husband funny work episodes or weird issues that caused me to bang my head on the nearest wall, it fell flat, since he has no clue on how he must interpret our specific work problems and situations.
Similarly, the husband has his own work spouses with whom he is more comfortable discussing business problems than with me. Now this is odd because we studied in the same college and you might assume we have similar levels of understanding of business and people problems. Being a manager in my own right, I could offer insights into human issues, processes and business cases as well as his friends and colleagues. However, much to my disappointment, he prefers not mixing business and marriage and ensures never the twain meet.
I work in a specialised industry, therefore any reference to my work goes above the spouse’s head. The husband is an entrepreneur who believes I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth as far as my job is concerned. In contrast to his unpredictable work crises, several of which occur on our special days like anniversary or birthday or a much-awaited holiday; mine are problems that have combined accountability and therefore do not stress me alone. He prefers, therefore, to not stress me with his work issues and insists I focus on the children, considering I have the unique advantage and ability to switch off from my work issues once I am home. It helps to be an employee rather than a business owner perhaps.
So, am I jealous of the husband’s work spouse? Perhaps I was at one point of time, when I noticed he bounced ideas with his work buddies but remained uncommunicative with me on the business front. However, as his work became complex and beyond my understanding, I was thankful I wasn’t a part of it. I love my work. It’s challenging in its own right and I identify with what I do. The husband can never fathom the intricacies of my job and therefore I find it difficult to confide in him as well.
At work, I’m lucky I have a great support system in the form of mentors and colleagues who cheer me along, who understand my frustrations and offer solutions in a manner the spouse cannot. They motivate me to operate from my strengths and manage my weaknesses. Some of the best life and career advice has come to me from my work spouses and they have guided and counselled me in a manner no one else could have done. There are several occasions at work when I have turned to my colleagues first and confided in my husband only when I have figured it out together with the work friend.
Thus, the work spouses take the worst of our career frustrations, thereby leaving real life spouses to be unaffected by the work stress and stay focused on our lives. Sometimes work spills over at home; however, more often than not, we have learned to keep our work stresses in a separate closed box before we come home to a few hours of bliss.
We spend more time with our work spouses than our real spouses but since our marital life is free of work stress, we keep our marriage focused on other things we need to do despite the issues at work.
We took time to understand that not every work related problem is within our control or immediately solvable. We have learned that it is not worth to keep our lives on hold just because we have a crisis at work. So, here goes a shout-out to our respective work spouses, who incidentally are friends with our real spouses, because they have helped us carry on with the business of living in spite of work crises.
Raksha Bharadia wonders if perhaps we are seeking too much from one person (our spouse). What is your experience? Do you, can you share your work woes and joys with your partner or do you have someone at work who understands them better? Comment below or write in your stories to us.Published in