Pros, Cons and Land Mines of Working With Your Spouse

spouse78228537Many people I know met their partner at work. It makes sense, as many of us spend more hours awake at work than we do at home, and our coworkers become our friends and most of the time like our family. We meet people at work, and sometimes those are the people we hang out with outside of work so friendships develop.

I met my husband at work. I had been working at Global Knowledge for years when, during renovations, my group was moved to the building next door, where his group worked. I may not have ever met him if I had not moved next door, but we did meet and started chatting. That led to a date, and the next thing you know, we were married.

From when we started dating to now, we don’t visit each other at work. If we happen to pass, we will say hi, but we don’t hang out at each other’s cubes and going to lunch together is rare. When I see him in the break room, I avoid going in and wait until he leaves to enter. It has been important to me that we kept the relationship low-key, especially in the beginning.

We carpool, and it is nice to be able to save gas that way. Once we get to work, he heads to his floor and I head to mine. We meet again in the car to head home.

Sometimes I will be in a meeting and someone will ask me the status of a project he is working on for them. How would I know? I don’t work in his group, and I am not him. Sometimes that gets annoying.

A downfall we consider is that we have all of our eggs in one basket when it comes to our paychecks, and if there are layoffs, we run the risk of both being let go at the same time. Another thing we thought about in the beginning was what would happen if we broke up. The good news for us is that we work for a large company and do not have to have direct interaction if we don’t want to.

We have all seen coworkers date, or even marry, and things end. They still have to work together, and it is awkward. But is that a reason not to start dating? Apparently not for many. There was a job posting that was something I wanted to apply for, but it was in his department. Neither of us would be working for the other or even with the other directly. However, since it was in the same group I talked to the hiring manager about it and her manager was not comfortable with it, so I did not apply.

A downside of carpooling in general: When one of us does not feel well, we can’t leave early because of the other one still being here. There are times when one of us is working on something that runs over, and it forces both of us to work late and requires a call to the lady who watches our kids asking her to keep them a little longer. When we know of an early meeting or working late, we can drive separately, but in many cases one of us gets caught trying to finish a project and that causes both of us to stay late.

In my last two roles here (marketing and product management), I have worked with him on projects. He is a graphic developer and has created things directly for me. In meetings and when I work with him on items, we work together like we would with any other client and service provider. We don’t act like a couple at work.

Working for the same company means we are able to talk about work and understand what each other is talking about. This also means since we know the same people at work, we can talk about them and know who each other is talking about. We get the same holidays off, and work parties and events are nice because we are each other’s dates. People at work have become friends outside of work and we have game night and events with them.

On the flip side, we try to make an effort not to talk about work too much outside of the building. We will ask each other how work was or what the other is working on and occasionally vent about frustrations we are facing and then try to change the topic. It is an effort, as I think we could talk about work topics at home all of the time, but we both need a break from work and we try to make dates and home life as work-free as possible. Although when I am working on off hours and checking my work email even on vacation, I know it annoys him, so I try to be quick and discreet about it. Since he knows about what I do, I think he understands more than someone else would.

I will admit, there have been times when we have not been getting along and luckily, instead of trying to see each other at work to talk or even argue, we really avoid each other at those times. We even turn the internal instant messaging system off so we don’t talk at all. People need breaks and time to think, and when you are near each other 24/7 like we are, you have to really make an effort to give each other space when possible. I will admit, I do not mind at all that I have to travel at times for work ☺.

Six years and two children later, I think we have done well working together. It does take effort to make sure work topics do not occupy a lot of our time, and we recognize that we both have to make sure we get time apart since we live together, drive to and from work together and work in the same building. When we do work on projects together, we don’t treat the other any differently because we are married. In fact, our coworkers would not know we are married based on how we treat each other at work.

So, if you’re interested in dating a co-worker, according to, you should take the following steps:

  1. Be sure before all else. Before you’ve even approached the co-worker of your dreams, be sure that he or she is interested in you in the same way. Think about the consequences for your job.
  2. Ask your co-worker on a date.
  3. Find common ground — other than work.
  4. Keep it quiet initially.
  5. Tell your co-workers about your workplace romance with consideration.
  6. Keep the relationship low-key at work.
  7. Avoid any sign or act of preferential treatment for your co-worker.
  8. Be professional if your relationship ends.
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