Do you have a go-to person in the office with whom you’ve formed a tight friendship? Then you most likely have a “work spouse.” And that’s a good thing. In fact, scientists encourage this because it leads to happiness and increased productivity. A work spouse refers to a strong relationship between two platonic colleagues, usually of the opposite sex, which includes a bond similar to that of a married couple.

For the work spouse study, researchers analyzed 269 participants’ open-ended responses to a survey and divvied them into five categories:

  1. Characteristics of a work spouse
  2. Conditions for the work-spouse relationship
  3. Characteristics of the work-spouse relationship
  4. Functions of work spouses
  5. Ways of managing the work-spouse relationship


What makes work wife relationships different than your other friendships at work? With any relationship, you hope to have trust and a shared sense of accountability, but work wives take these two qualities to the next level with the v-factor: vulnerability. These relationships require a level vulnerability that doesn’t just make you feel comfortable bringing your whole self to work — it encourages you to.

“You have to be willing to say, ‘Look, I’m having a really hard time right now, either because of this thing that’s happening in our workday, or this thing that’s happening separately,’ and you can’t be scared that you’re going to be judged for feeling down or for not being as productive as you want to be, You have to be able to express those things and not feel like you’re showing your cards, or that this is a competitive relationship or that you have to hide those things from someone.”


What we think is so interesting about the relationships between women at work is that they really start to defy the basic principles of office rules that were written by men a really long time ago, that we all sort of just internalize — things like ‘Don’t bring your personal life to work, Well, you know, there are certain things that are unique to women that make it impossible not to bring your personal life to work. For example, being pregnant—you can’t leave a pregnant belly at home.”

And she’s speaking from recent experience. Mazure’s seven-week old son, Cam, was sitting on her lap during our interview. Bringing more of your real self to work creates stronger connections and a culture of honesty, comfort, support and so much more.


Regardless of whether you’re thinking of going into business with a friend, being able to talk about money with one another is a powerful and important practice. Start with the assumption that you’re likely coming to finances from two different places, just as you might with a romantic partner. Know how your partner’s childhood may have shaped her views on money. “When writing the book and interviewing different sets of business partners about how they handled money, a lot of them brought up the fact that they knew what each other’s upbringing looked like and how that shaped their relationships to money, Having that understanding really helped in difficult conversations about money.”

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