Sunday, November 25, 2007

Office Spouse

She calls him her “work husband” in jest, a lot of co-workers call them a “work couple” also in good humor. They go to lunch together, he waits for her to finish up her last email so they can walk together to the parking deck. They flirt with each other openly. She is married with no kids. He is married with three children,a little shy of forty and gorgeous in the manner of Brad Pitt and George Clooney.

The day Ray started on our team, we could sense the immediate spark between him and Vicki. She is a vivacious brunette in her mid-thirties. It takes some getting used to her brashness but once you get past that, she is a wonderful person with a genuine interest in understanding people beyond their roles and what it takes for a them to work well together. Spunky and feisty are the two words that come to mind when trying to describe her personality.

She grew up in Maine and he some place in Louisiana on a farm. They are as different as chalk and cheese in terms of personality but physical chemistry very rarely has anything to do with that. They are both smart, articulate and professional and having that much in common is sometimes enough to incubate an office romance. Needless to say, they look great together.

I notice the way Ray’s face lights up when Vicki walks in the door and how she’s constantly looking for excuses to work sitting close to him. They always make each other laugh. It is all reminiscent of high-school and college romances and would have been utterly adorable except for the nagging fact that they are both married to other people. Whatever, they have between them may not prove enough to break up either marriage – at least I hope such is the case – but these are the destabilizing forces which when added up over time could push things past the tipping point.

I have worked with both Ray and Vicki individually in the past. They are inherently good and decent people – definitely not on the prowl for an extra-marital high. Life would gone on without event or incident had they not been thrown together by fate. The fact that they take the attraction they have for each other in stride and even acknowledge it jokingly is probably proof that they don’t want to be either serious or secretive about it. Yet I can’t help wondering what it all means for Ray’s wife and Vicki’s husband. Do they know as much we co-workers do ?

Knowing would definitely a good thing but how they deal with it would depend on the state of the marriage and individual personalities. One spouse may decide to join the chorus of good natured ribbing about the office-spouse while the other may feel anger, insecurity and jealousy. There is no right or wrong way to handle such things and one response is not better or worse than that the other.

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