NEWS2USE-LIFESKILLS:TB-spouse-20210719.

Q: Your work spouse wants to come over and meet your real spouse. How should you proceed?

A: For some people, having their work spouse meet their real spouse is a completely uncomplicated event. Of course these two important people in your life want to meet each other, right? If it’s that easy, it’s that easy. No need to think too hard about it.

But sometimes it’s a little more complicated.

For instance, if you’re harboring a secret crush (or perhaps a not-so-secret crush) on your work spouse, your actions when you’re around them may betray your feelings. If there’s a bit of sexual chemistry between you and your work spouse, your real spouse may pick up on it as soon as you start interacting with your work spouse. And that might not be a good thing.

Even if your feelings for your work spouse are strictly platonic, if the two of you have a fairly intimate friendship and share all sorts of details about your relationship with your real spouse, you may want to consider what it’s going to be like to have the two of them in the same room together. Will it be uncomfortable for you to watch them interact, knowing that your work spouse has heard all of your complaints about your real spouse, or all of the details of your sex life?

These are two common reasons why some folks don’t want their “work spouse” to meet their real spouse, but there are plenty of others. If you’re concerned about your two spouses meeting each other, the big opportunity is for you to ask yourself why you’re concerned — and then decide what you want to do about that. For instance, if you realize that you do have a crush on your work spouse but hadn’t quite admitted it to yourself yet, you might want to postpone the meeting of the spouses until you can decide what you want to do with your feelings for your work spouse.

— Dr. Marie Murphy, relationship coach, www.mariemurphyphd.com.

A: To preface, this should not be awkward because they should know about each other — you should have set boundaries already, so it’s almost like having a friend come over. If it’s awkward, maybe you need to rethink the whole concept of the work spouse.

But let’s say that your work spouse decides, “Hey, I want to meet your real spouse.”

First, make sure your real spouse is comfortable with it. The situation needs to be set up where your real spouse never feels left out or uncomfortable or suspicious.

When you’re all together, don’t sit there chatting only about work. Your spouse isn’t there every day and doesn’t know what the heck you’re talking about! Laughing and bonding only with your work spouse can make your real spouse feel left out.

Don’t make your real spouse be the getter of all the food. No, if anything, you need to get up and say, “Honey, can I get you a drink?” Talking to and serving your real spouse first is important.

Don’t flirt. It’s easy when you’re with your work spouse to be laughing a lot or kind of touch their shoulder — don’t do that, ever, but definitely not in front of your real spouse. It’s a matter of putting yourself in your spouse’s shoes. How would you feel if your spouse was doing this? Be cognizant of how you’re handling yourself in front of your real spouse, but again, you should not be doing these things behind the scenes either.

Don’t put your real spouse down. Don’t make jokes at the expense of your real spouse such as, “Oh, she never does the laundry, ha ha ha,” or bringing up a fight you had last week.

If your real spouse is uncomfortable with the idea of a work spouse altogether, you should take a step back and reevaluate. In fact, there is some research that shows the majority of employees that have work spouses are admittedly romantically attracted to them. And I will be humble and honest here: If my husband had a work spouse, I would have an issue with it, and I can say for him, on the record, he would feel the same way. Your boundaries become blurred.

— Dr. Jaime Kulaga, Ph.D., LMHC, www.drjaimek.com. Kulaga is author of “The SuperWoman’s Guide to Super Fulfillment: Step-by-Step Strategies to Create Work-Life Balance.”

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