Of Mars & Venus: Does ‘work love’ work?


by HD

Have you had your eye on that oh so pretty girl at work but kept away because of perceived ‘work place wahala’?

We spend so much time in the office or on various workplace assignments, that it is only natural for relationships to develop between some employees. Some of these relationships will work and some of them will not… naturally.

A lot of employers discourage office relationships, even going as far as to take disciplinary action against employees who are involved. You really can not blame them, as these days when everyone “knows their rights”; no company wants the inconvenience, expense or embarrassment of being joined in a sexual harrassment law suit. On the other hand, people see work relationships  as potentially problematic. What happens when you have a bitter break up and still have to work together? Or maybe one person did not want to end the relationship and has to see the other person everyday? And if the relationship does progress to marriage, its great and you will love your spouse, but spouse in the morning at home, spouse in the daytime at work, spouse in the evening at home…and heaven forbid worst of all, what happens if the woman is your boss?

The good news is that work relationships can work! Every relationship has its peculiarities and needs some work depending on its nature, and circumstances. All you have to do is also to adapt to the issues which arise from work relationships  and… work with them! Here are a few tips for
doing just that.

  1. Start by laying some ground rules. It is important to discuss and understand each others expectations and perceptions of being together at the workplace. For example one person might feel you should lunch together everyday and the other not. Let the way it is going to happen be clear.
  2. Let work stay at work. Yes, one of the great things about having a partner is being able to vent to them about your day, work, but workplace issues and tensions can spoil the atmosphere in the house for you, especially when you are both part of the same situation. One of the rules you can make is “work talk no longer allowed once dinner is on the table”… until the next day. You can then enjoy being a couple at home.
  3. Let home issues stay at home. Personal arguments you may have should deifinitely not be brought up in the workplace. It will be embarrassing for you both to have your colleagues know your business and depending on the issue, they may respect you or your spouse less. You will definitely not like that!
  4. One thing you absolutely cannot do is to keep things bottled up if you work with your spouse. Whenever something becomes an issue for you, you need to sort it immediately and respectfully. That way you can avoid going home with a chip on your shoulder.
  5. Mutual respect is very important.  You need to treat your spouse with the same proffessional courtesy you would treat any other colleague. Recognize them as an expert in their field and treat them as such.
  6. Leave PDAs for outside the office. It can make you both appear unproffessional and subject you to unnecessary teasing and embarrasment at the office, if you constantly engage in personal displays of affection. Even pet names are to be avoided in the work environment.
  7. Avoid unnecessary personal arguments simply by listening. Allow the other person to finish speaking always, even if you disagree with the their point of view. This is standard for all relationships and one of the secrets for keeping office issues in the office for work relationships. You gain and give more respect that way and avoid unneccessary personal arguments.
  8. It helps to have your own routine which does not involve you running down to your partners desk or office every hour for a quick chat or to “check how you are doing”.
  9. Circulate at the office. Have lunch with other colleagues, avoid forming your own ‘spouses-only’ committe. This will help your proffesional image and help you nurture your proffessional relationships. You never know when you will need them!
  10. You know how the love gurus always advice taking some “us time” right? Well when you work together, you need it even more. Take time together at least once a week to de-stress and enjoy yourselves together. This will become a special time you look forward to.
  11. As with all relationships, make sure you both have other interests. De-stressing together is great! Also make sure you have some me time, where you  pursue your individual interests. You will not feel overwhelmed by constant togetherness and will give you other things to talk about apart from business. Mind you, it does not work if only one person has their me activity, so you work on yours and encourage your partner to work on theirs.

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