Has the Time Come for Polygamy at Work?

Many years ago, I introduced a concept that took the virtual world by storm. My idea was profound yet simple. I called it “work wife” and it was a term to describe your best friend/lunch mate at the office. For many years I rode on the coattails of this glorious invention. It was the crowning achievement of my young life and I always assumed that it would become my epitaph.

But alas, my laizze-faire vetting process ultimately came back to bite me in my prodigious rear. By employing the popular tool known as ‘the google’ I discovered that I had not actually invented the term “work wife” (although I certainly did help to popularize its usage,) but some real writer at a real magazine might have. Daunted and broken, I returned to my drawing board in a vain attempt to come up with another great idea to claim as my own.

Still waiting for said glorious idea to materialize, I thought that in the meantime I would revisit the concept of “work wife” as I’m no longer sure that it even makes sense in today’s topsy-turvy world.

For you see, monogamy may work in the bedroom but I fear that it’s a loser in the boardroom. And I think that it’s time for us to move beyond our dated notions of male-male/male-female/female-female workplace couplings and consider open workplace marriages. I think it’s time for us to introduce a little polygamy into the office park.

Experience now tells me that workplace lunch groups should actually be comprised of threesomes (aka friendship circles) for the following reasons:

1. If your work wife is traveling or out sick you’ll still have someone to lunch with, avoiding the dreaded “I’ll just heat up a can of soup and surf the web at my desk” lunch;

2. If you’re tiffing with the work wife, the third person can act as a mediator – both objectively weighing the evidence and actively attempting to smooth over hurt feelings;

3. Work ménage-a-trois allow for more stimulating conversation and less repetition of stories;

4. Having a tie-breaker vote is valuable for picking lunch venues, especially if the spouses have different salad/sandwich shop preferences.

5. Having a third party is beneficial for securing short-term lunch loans when funds are running short and trips to the cash machine are not desired.

Yes, the more that I think of it, the happier I am that I never invented that stupid concept of work wife. Who needs to be tied down? Work man was born to be free and unattached (and yet still likes to have dependable lunchtime companions.)

Now the hard part for those of you in established long-term work relationships will be to introduce the back-up work wife without making your first work wife jealous. The worst thing would be for you to go through an ugly work separation/divorce before you lock-down your second wife. Then you’re back to reading sci-fi books alone in the food court.

Sympathy is your best play here. Once you identify the man or woman who you’d like to a fiancée, engineer a situation where you “impulsively” ask them to join you and the wife for a casual (no commitment) lunch. Or better yet, try to get your work wife to think that it was his/her idea. At lunch, make sure that you steer the conversation back to topics that your work wife will enjoy, thereby ensuring a positive experience. Repeat this process a few times until it starts becoming a regular thing. Before you know it, you’ve just doubled your lunch pleasure!

One final note of caution: be careful when you’re picking your second work wife. If he or she isn’t into swinging, then you’re taking a big, awkward risk. The last thing you need is to be branded as some freaky office lunch tramp.


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