I was reading an online article about work relationships, when a comment caught my eye. The commenter, bookbug273, wrote: “I have a ‘work husband’, and my real husband has a ‘work wife’! We tease each other about it, but it’s all totally OK.”
That’s when I realised: there was a name for my husband’s friendship with his co-worker, Kimberly. She was his ‘work wife’. And I was definitely not cool with it.
The phrase ‘work wife’ made complete sense to me. After all, she was Matt’s closest friend at work, the one who understood all of the issues he had with his boss and the corporate structure. And their closeness was making me uncomfortable and jealous.
That night, when Matt got home, I said, “Kim’s your work wife, isn’t she?”
He grinned. “Yeah! I guess you’re right. She is!”
That was not the response I wanted. A denial would have been preferable. To have Matt so comfortable with acknowledging his intimacy with Kim – even if it was just as a friend – was unnerving.
Is 'work wife' on this list of breakup reasons? (Post continues after video.)
Three years ago, when Matt told me that he was training a new woman named Kim at his office, I didn’t bat an eyelid.
I’d forgotten about it, until Matt came home from work one day and said, “Guess what! Kim and I found out that we went to primary school together!”
I didn’t see what the big deal was. People cross paths all the time. But Matt was oddly excited that he and Kim had been at the same school, even though she was a few years older than him.
After that, Matt managed to weave in little facts about Kim into many of our after-work conversations. Kim used to ride horses, he said. Kim had grown up just two suburbs away from him. Their parents had holiday homes in neighbouring beachside towns. She had also been an exchange student in Europe. Both of them had parents who were medical professionals.
Naturally, I worried that Matt was having an affair, and I confronted him about it.
“Me? With Kim?!” he laughed. “She’s married! And her husband’s a really nice guy!”
As if that would make a difference.
I began to make excuses to visit Matt at work. I had a meeting in his business park one day, and stopped by the office so that we could have lunch together.
“You have to meet Kim,” he told me excitedly. “You’ll love her.”
I was shocked when I met her, because she was nothing like what I expected. I was thinking of all of the famous, sexy and alluring Kims…Kim Kardashian, Kimberley Davies.
But Matt’s Kim was nothing like that. She was seemed very sensible, even plain. Although I felt unbelievably shallow, I still felt relieved that she was not a sexual threat. And Matt was right: she was nice.