Why you need a person at work who gets you.

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Before we go any further, let’s define our terms: A “work spouse” is someone at work whom you are loyal to, and who is loyal to you. In good times and bad, you have each other’s backs. You mutually trust and respect one another. You give and get honest feedback.

Some experts say that having a work spouse is one path to greater job satisfaction, increased productivity and — ultimately — career success.

Needless to say, your relationship with your work spouse has to be platonic. That’s what makes it work. And it’s not impossible! In a Creighton University survey, only two out of 276 respondents reported having had a sexual relationship with a work spouse. Indeed, your work spouse does not need to be the gender that you might, in your personal life, normally seek out for romance.  The key here is that this is a person who helps you get your work done, not distract from it.

True, the label is rather salacious. Perhaps someone will eventually think of a better one. Meanwhile, just focus on all the many benefits you can reap from creating, and nurturing, an egalitarian and mutually beneficial workplace relationship.

In fact, you may already have a work spouse and not even know it. Is there someone at work you go to first with any news, good or bad? Do you unconditionally support each other’s priorities, projects and ambitions? Are you able to be blunt with each other?

If your answers are “yes,” be glad, because this is a good thing, especially in an era when we seem to be spending more and more of our waking hours on the job. You really need someone who laughs at the same things you laugh at. (Note: A shared sense of humor is almost always part of the work-spouse dynamic.)

The label may need a lot of work, but the phenomenon it describes is here to stay. Your improved well-being and happiness might even spill over into your personal life, thus giving you the time, energy and mental space to better enjoy your relationship with your real spouse.