Men like office wives (Paul Bradbury|Getty Images )

Longtime readers of GQ will recognize the term. As Tom Prince wrote a few years back, the work wife is the person who “knows you better than anyone.” My office spouse and I were confidants who shared a cubicle pod. Sprightly banter ping-ponged between us all day long. We never hesitated to tell each other stuff too intimate or cringe-making to share with the rest of the office. On the occasions when we were driven to talk nasty smack about our co-workers, we would switch to stealth mode—IM—erupting into synchronous cackles that turned nearby heads. And we stuck close together, for safety, when office parties threatened to turn superweird.

Ours was a beautiful work marriage built on a mutual affection and understanding. I let her prattle on about her idyllic life with her (actual) husband, cooed over photos of three-bedroom condos she hoped to buy, and gave her a big, happy hug when she announced that she’d become pregnant. She let me prattle on about my disastrous romantic misadventures, helped me draft polite but firm text messages declining second dates, and repeatedly assured me that I would not die alone, at 53, via aspiration of unheated minestrone soup chugged straight from the can.

And then one terrible day—citing the onset of morning sickness and a plan to freelance from home once her baby arrived—she up and quit. Our cubicle pod went silent. I’d been work divorced.

It was obvious to me that I needed to work remarry. And soon, before my office-bachelor habits became too ingrained. I surveyed my options: the high-powered execs, the lowly assistants, the randos who sit over by the printer station whose jobs are still not entirely clear to me. I even eyed—vowing to remain open-minded—the hulking mailroom guy with the forearm tattoos and graying ponytail.

I’d been lucky. My first office marriage was pretty much work love at first sight. This time would be different. I’d need to have a game plan.

So I drew up a set of guidelines. Should, heaven forbid, your own work marriage ever dissolve, you may wish to consult and abide by these suggestions.
One of You Ought to Be Married in Real Life
The logic of this one is obvious. If both of you are actively prowling for love, you may well find it. Together. In the stairwell. Or perhaps at one of those superweird office shindigs. This will effect the permanent deterioration of the work marriage and the possible beginning of an office romance—which is an entirely different kettle of grenades.

Of course, a work marriage may float along on a cloud of harmless attraction. Go ahead, partake in some innocent flirting. Enjoy the company, the physical proximity—the scent, even—of a sexually attractive companion. But remember that the prime directive of the work marriage is to bolster stability and comfort in the workplace. Not to introduce chaos.
One of You Should Be Actively Single
What’s more fun to talk about than bad dates, sordid sex, and romantic turmoil? They provide hours of distracting conversational fodder. The smug married gets to live vicariously, to offer sage advice, and to feel primly superior. The singleton—dying to tell someone, anyone, about last night’s exploits involving nine picklebacks, a police chase, and a 22-year-old bartender—has an eager sounding board.
I’m Down with Same-Sex Work Marriages, But They Can Sometimes Be Fraught
Whatever kind of work marriage floats your work boat is A-OK by me. But in my experience, people of opposite genders tend to be a smidge less competitive with each other. They get into fewer pissing matches and spend less time silently comparing shoes.
That said, the most adorable work marriage I’ve ever seen up close paired two straight, married dudes in their fifties. They nagged each other like an elderly couple in a nursing home. And they did it with love. Work soul mates come in all sorts of unlikely packages. It’s God’s way.