His ‘Work Wife’ Is a Symptom — Or Worse by Stacy Notaras Murphy

**Dear Stacy,

My wife and I are about to start couples therapy and I am wondering if you think I need to tell them (her and the therapist) about my close relationship with a coworker. My first instinct is to say no — it’s unnecessary information that will only make my wife more upset with me. But then I wonder how much my connection with this other woman impacts my lack of attraction to my wife.

For background, this other woman is just a friend and we have never ever talked about having feelings for one another. We do spend a lot of time together and I’m not interested in changing that. I guess you might call her my “work wife,” because we eat lunch together and always seem to enjoy being around one another. The whole office jokes about our connection, but she’s in a relationship and I’m married. Regardless, I want to go to couples therapy to improve my relationship with my wife and find ways to work through our issues. I just don’t know if this is one of our issues and I await your advice
— How Much Info?**

**Dear How Much:

Before we decide what you tell the therapist, we need to go over what you are telling yourself: that (a) it’s okay to have your emotional needs met by another woman and (b) that couples therapy will work regardless of (a).
My advice? Start telling yourself the truth.

You are having an emotional affair. And if you don’t think that has an impact on your attraction to your wife, you are going to be completely blindsided by the impact it will have on your ability to successfully navigate couples therapy. You see, we all have a limited amount of emotional energy. If you divide it between multiple recipients, there is less to go around. You will have less to put into the therapy, and even less to use when trying to integrate the lessons of therapy back at home. When you allow your emotional needs to be met by another woman, you take Home Wife out of the game of being able to meet them at all.

You imply that you are not having a physical relationship with Work Wife, which furthers my point. She gets to know the emotional, vulnerable, intimate you and Home Wife is left to make sense of your distracted behavior. Work Wife may not be “the problem,” but she’s a symptom. And if you are seeking treatment, your care provider needs to know all
the symptoms.**


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