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Why You Need Work Wives and How to Find Them

Updated: Mar 18

Written By: Lexxie Monahan



My first couple of jobs out of college were heavy on the concentration of dudes with fewer women in the mix. They were fine in the way that “fresh” strawberries are fine in the dead of winter: they cost a lot and severely lacked something, but I wasn’t sure what. I was employed after all. I got along well with everyone, enjoyed working with almost everyone, and through a combination of overworking and begging, I got promoted over and over again.

At one of these jobs, I couldn’t do anything in MY department without getting a dude from an entirely different team to attest to the validity of my proposed ideas. I appreciated the support from said dudes but, let’s be honest, they benefited from the power they had over me.

Enter Mel. Mel was so good and so confident she was promoted from office assistant to editor in a handful of months. She had the power to give the green light on anything we published - she even could say “no” to the people who perpetually questioned me.

I was stunned.

Eventually, she noticed my little permission problem and asked, “What’s up with that?”


I explained. She called bullshit and encouraged me, and I became more assertive. When I was questioned, she backed me up either to them or by encouraging me to stand firm. Slowly, the need for permission melted away.

Mel left and I did too, but I knew that wherever I went I needed to find women allies to help me through. When I found myself at a larger organization I sought them out and wound up with a whole support group. It was transformative. My journey has been smoother and more enjoyable ever since. So, I beg you, please get yourself some work wives.

According to Wiki "work spouse" or, in this case, “work wife” is “a special, platonic friendship with a work colleague characterized by a close emotional bond, high levels of disclosure and support, and mutual trust, honesty, loyalty, and respect.”

I like this definition because it encompasses much more than “coworker”, and more eloquently describes what I see as the benefits of having work wives. From my perspective, work wives:

  • Amp you up when you need amping (like when you are in line for a salary negotiation or an interview)

  • Call bullshit when they see it

  • Give you space to share tiresome experiences (especially related to sexism)

  • Help guide you at challenging points of your work

If they have power, they share it, and, if either of you leave the organization, they give you the temperature of other places of employment. I like to imagine it's something like what the alumni of prestigious schools offer one another. In this way, work wives can lend you a leg up you didn’t know you needed and deserved.

So, how do you find them? Here’s what I suggest:

  • Ask a woman in your organization to grab a coffee or lunch: I’ll admit, I am judgemental and most of the time my judgments are wrong, so ask anyone even if she doesn’t seem like she’d be your BFF. You’re not getting married after all, and she might surprise you.

  • Make general conversation about professional life to determine if you have similar values. If yes, see the next bullet. If not, then thank her for taking the time and start back at number one.

  • Test her trustworthiness, support, and general interest in a friendship by asking her for some help/advice when you need it. Thank her for it, and offer to be supportive of her if she needs anything. If all’s going well, carry on; not so much, back up to number one.

  • If you meet multiple women who are kind, supportive, and helpful, introduce them to one another. You’ll create a powerhouse of ideas and support.

  • TIP: Add women who are different from you to the group; with different experiences, ages, races, etc. to make a SUPER DUPER powerhouse.

  • Rise together and CRUSH THE PATRIARCHY.

To be clear, I love my work husbands, too, and they can be valuable. But, the fact is, nine times out of ten they just can’t relate in the same way. They’re on a highway and we’re walking on unmowed grass. Together, though, we can forge a smoother path.


 

Meet the Author

Lexxie Monahan

Lexxie Monahan is always aspiring to something, whether it’s work-related (climbing a rung then the next) or personal (exploring herself or the world) - she’s always chasing some goal off in the horizon. Otherwise, she’s trying to make sure she keeps her kids, dog, and plants alive - preferably while sitting.



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