working with spouse

Are Public Displays of Affection Okay at Work? by Anne Kreamer

Dear Anne,

I work at the same office as my wife.  Neither of us report to the other.  How much affection is appropriate for us to show on the job?  I don’t mean making out or anything, but otherwise can we act like we’re married?

Sincerely,  John

Dear John:

Good for you for working with your wife.  My husband and I worked together for years when we started our magazine and it worked pretty well.  Like you and your wife, we worked in different departments, so didn’t step on each other’s professional toes.  We were co-founders of the company, which was small, everyone was young or youngish and knew we were married so we never pretended that we weren’t, but we also always acted professionally at work.  I’m not a big fan of public displays of affection in the first place, and particularly not in the workplace.  Your relationship with your wife can and should be unlike that with any other colleague's – but not quite as loose and familiar as it is at home. While texting and tele-commuting have been blurring the boundaries between the personal and the professional in everyone’s lives, the workplace is still primarily a place where we should be in a heightened state of formality.  I’m not suggesting a reversion to some kind of a pre-modern era of etiquette and courtesy – you don't need to call her Miss or Mrs. or Ms.! -- but I’d pretty much reserve your displays of affection for outside the office.  Trust me, everyone at the company already knows you’re married -- don’t offer them any grounds to snipe at either you or your wife for anything other than work-related issues.  No one has the time.

Hope this didn’t feel too harsh.


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