I feel bad to think I will have to stand at her door and ask my wife, “May I come in Madam”

Sharing an email by a husband.

Do hierarchies in relationships make it difficult to celebrate a life partners’ success? Would there be more celebration, if she was working in a different office? What would you say to the email writer?

I and my wife have been married for 5 years and we share a very close bond. We never hide anything from each other.
She joined to work in my company last year. Now, she has got a promotion and now has an offer letter that will make her my boss.
I feel uneasy at this situation. I do not know how this will affect our relationship. So far we used to discuss A-Z of all that happens at work with each other. Now I feel that there is a new barrier between us.
I feel she will not tell me what happens at her level to me, because she is my boss now. Also, I am not sure if I can ask her about that. I fear I would lose my status in the relationship. I am not able to bring myself to ask her about that, as I suddenly feel there is a hierarchy between us and doubts such as “Can I ask her?”, “How should I address her”, “How will she take it if I talk?”, “Will I lose my say in household matters”, arise in my mind. I love her dearly, but I have these fears. Changing companies is not a good option now, as the job market is down.
I feel awkward to take orders from her, address her as Madam, wait for her to let me talk to her, facing disciplinary action from her (maybe) and above all, losing the transparency – can I ask her like before what decisions she makes, what went on in her meetings etc…….
What do I do?

How should I behave with her? If I say something that angers her at home, will I have to face the consequences at the office? So, is the free and uninhibited talk a thing of the past? Should I talk every word after thinking twice? I feel ashamed to live as a man…..

I feel bad to think I will have to stand at her door and ask “May I come in Madam”, and obey her orders in front of other people…. I know there may be things I will not know with other bosses, but IT HURTS to know that there are things that my wife will not tell me because I am below her.

I feel the intimacy is lost…… I have to submit to her will, haven’t I?
She has told me that she has got the offer, but she has not asked me whether I’d like her to take it or not…. So far, she’d discuss every thing with me and do only if I am ok with it…..

Are such insecurities the reason why some men don’t want working wives? (Or only want safe careers where there is no chance of her being more successful than they are ). Would anything change if the the wife refuses this promotion offer to save her marriage?


137 thoughts on “I feel bad to think I will have to stand at her door and ask my wife, “May I come in Madam”

  1. This is such a sad letter.already intimacy is lost because you are not being open to her about your feelings and because you are being too selfish to celebrate what her hard work and commitment have yielded.


    • Wow..judgmental anyone?? Just because the guy has bared his soul here doesnt mean you can put him down immediately. Not once has he said he isnt celebrating her success..he is talking of real day to day issues


      • What kind of stupid company policy puts a husband-wife couple in a boss-employee relationship (doesn’t matter which of the two is on top)? There are proven detriments to that sort of work relationship. I wonder if this is just a troll writing a fictional letter to IHM.


      • I wasn’t trying to be judgmental. I felt he wasn’t celebrating her success because he asked “Would anything change if the the wife refuses this promotion offer to save her marriage” I feel it is unfair for him to make that suggestion because it undermines her hard work. However I do understand this is a tricky situation, but that decision to take or not take the job position should come from her with no pressure from him. I think as a sensible wife she will want to discuss the situation with him but maybe she is not ready or she is also scared. He said” May I come in Madam”, and obey her orders in front of other people….” which made me feel his concerns were also based on his ego hurting. Which is also a valid feeling, but again it doesn’t show that he is supporting her success. I think if he is a good worker and open with her as an employee he won’t have to worry about discipline because he will know where he needs to improve before a problem escalates.


    • I disagree crissyk. I don’t think he’s being ‘selfish’. I would feel awkward if I was my husband’s boss or if he were my boss. It’s not a question of jealousy, but of how to keep work & home separate. Besides, this man mentioned that his wife too has not discussed this with him, so I think that both of them could be feeling awkward.


      • Yes, Poorvi, I agree.
        There is no selfishness here, but that awkward feel.
        I had a taste of it – I had to conduct a small lab training class to the teachers of my school – teaching my own teachers – that’s also awkward. I am not saying the two are the same but they resemble.


    • crissyk and IHM:

      Going by the fact that the sentence “Would anything change if the the wife refuses this promotion offer to save her marriage?” is not in italics, I guess it was posted by IHM.

      Also the guy has been saying “our relationship” so fat. So I will not expect him to say “her marriage”, as that marriage is his too.

      Just an observation and a thought…

      IHM, please clarify. Thanks.


  2. I don’t find the guy insecure at all. An insecure guy would have a problem with his wife being in a higher position or being a higher earner even elsewhere. His concerns are more to do with how it impacts their relationship. I think a lot of these are very practical concerns. I would feel the same way in his shoes — how do I keep the marriage out of the work relationship and vice versa?

    I’m surprised their workplace will even allow this, given the huge potential for conflict of interest. It’s why my employer has an upper limit (of ten bucks!) on gifts exchanged within employees, for instance. Because regardless of whether or not it ACTUALLY impacts your work relationship with your boss, the perception of it is enough to impact the team’s morale.

    Honestly, if I had a significant other working for me, he could screw up at work and I’d totally forget about it after a steamy night!


    • I agree. Even if the roles were reversed, I would find it terribly awkward to be my wife’s boss. No decent office environment should allow this.

      My wife has openly told me she would never consent to working as my subordinate 🙂 – and if she were my boss, it would be…very unprofessional.


  3. while this is a difficult situation, and one can understand where the husband is coming from.. i think they will both have to work this out.. also.. another workaround is to talk to hr and have his reporting to someone else – same department, but another manager. some companies do this to ensure that spouses never report to each other – wife to husband or husband to wife – both ways. am surprised that this company has not considered this.. i hope they do..


  4. Maybe the husband should answer the question what if it was the other way round? What if he was promoted as the boss in his company and his wife would be under him. I’m sure that would be totally acceptable? Isn’t it? And if you make honest answers to this- you will find how you should treat the new state of affairs.

    Most companies foresee this and not allow the spouses to work in the same company. I know of companies that even if existing employees marry one of the spouse has to resign.

    Possible suggestions that comes to my mind:

    1. Refuse the promotion and live your old life. Highly discouraged.
    2 . You should see your growth in hers. Don’t see her as your threat. If you see her as one with you. You will welcome the change. Welcome the promotion.
    3. It is not difficult, you can set the ground rules, keep office to office and home to home and other than the nominal hierarchy relationship in the office, you can be at ease working.
    4. Rhetorically you may have to ask her permission, but fundamentally it can be mutual working. Imagine a situation where say you are running your own business and one of you is the CEO and other just in the board of director or something.
    5. As for sharing company confidential , expect that it is needed to run the company and beyond a point you shouldn’t prode for more information. And also, you should trust that whenever something is going to come and she will act/share what is good for both of you.
    6. Dont’ focus on what people say/will say, etc.. Then you can never be at peace!

    Good luck! It’s is not the end of the world.. I would celebrate the promotion. honestly


    • A friend of mine was refused a position in the ad agency which handles the Coke account because her husband worked for Pepsi…Reason: Conflict of interest…Larger companies like RBS and SCB allow spouses to work as long as they are not working in the same group…


    • I think it’s easy to say ‘keep home & work separate’, but very, very difficult to do. When people have bad days either at home or work, it does affect the other part of their life. It’s very difficult for many people (me included) to switch off completely when we get home. I think ‘how do we know’s suggestion is fantastic & could be seriously considered.


    • If he sees her as one with him, why should he not have the trust from her that he will not divulge whatever she tells him, that she is privy to?
      The point is not “by the book”confidentiality. You do not tell confidential things to others because they are so secret that only top trusted people can have that. So if she does not tell husband it means she does not trust him. Then why have the marriage where there is no trust? Why not go away?


  5. That’s why companies usually don’t allow spouses to work in the same group/department…I’m surprised that this company hired the wife knowing that the husband would be reporting to her (I am assuming that the wife had disclosed this information during her interview)…I think this situation is a recipe for disaster both for the company and their marriage…

    I think the wife would have felt the same way if she had to report to her husband – at least I know I would…Imagine suddenly creating a hierarchy when none existed – Shudder! Shudder!


    • [non-serious response ahead]

      These days it’s harder to find a new job than it’s to divorce and re-marry. So I guess it’d make sense to pic work over marriage here *grin*


      • Well, a lot of men have a problem with their wives doing better than them but I don’t think this particular LW would have that…Of course, I may be wrong…In fact, a lot of women (even ‘educated’) have a problem with wives doing better in the work place and/or the husbands staying home looking after kids and housework..

        In my condo, there are many European/American/Australian families who have moved here because of the wives’ jobs….Most of the husbands have given up their jobs and are stay-at-home-dads or are furthering their education…My daughter’s friend’s dad is one and he loves his new ‘job’ (he was an IT consultant in the US)…He cooks, gets his 2 daughters ready for school, packs their lunches, takes them for classes etc. and is happy doing this…His wife has a good job and is on an expat salary…He tried looking for a job here in the IT field but the offers he received involved travel and travel is something he can’t due because his wife travels for at least 2 weeks in a month…


      • Oops! I forgot to write the main thing in my previous comment…The SAHDs don’t have a problem with staying at home but a lot of the Indian women neighbours do! They crack jokes at their expense and so on…


  6. First of all, are there not company policies that prevent just this type of relationship mess?
    Second, he should try to reverse the roles and see if things would be different if he was the boss and not she. If there is no problem with that scene then there should not be one with the current one. He needs to trust his wife, that she will be capable of handling the situation, and that he will also be able to support her in any which way. If he feels so insecure, he needs to sit down and talk to her about his feelings instead of letting this brew any further.

    My husband used to be my manager in my previous company (I changed jobs when we decided to get married). He never discussed work with me, and I never asked him any difficult questions. I know I would not have asked any other manager. It is not as difficult as it sounds.

    If he loves her as dearly as he claims, then he just needs to trust her, support her, and continue loving her just the same


    • Assuming the OP’s not a troll, it does’t matter who’s the boss. It is a very unhealthy situation both at work and for their marriage. Human beings are not 100% perfect. They will always have insecurities in life. No one can be ideal enough to 100% trust another person. Except in movies and books. So in this case, the best approach would be to look for a new job or to change departments.


  7. This company’s policies suck! In a lot of companies, husband and wife can not even report to the same manager, forget about someone reporting to his spouse. This is definitely a ‘conflict of interest’ in corporate terms.

    I wouldn’t like to have my husband as my boss. Heck, I wouldn’t even work in the same company as him!

    I think his wife should address his concerns and then take the promotion.This husband should change his job if he doesn’t like his new boss. His wife needs to be a thorough professional and shouldn’t vent her personal frustrations on him, nor should she give him preferential treatment. But it’s a tough situation.


    • Already there seems to be a gap building up between them given how she has not even talked about her promotion with him. I reckon she’s as aware of the weird situation as he is. Obviously the promotion means a lot to her, so the husband is the one who needs to look for an alternate position/job.


  8. His concerns are regarding losing transparency in their relationship and having their issues at home impact their work life or vice versa. To me,it does not look like an insecurity..it does not look like he is worried about his WIFE being his boss…more about how his SPOUSE being his boss, will affect their personal and professional life which seems like a valid concern.


  9. company policy is bad and not upto the mark most companies dont allow such situations to come in the life of their employees

    a fact that is not open yet nad needs to be pondered
    was the wife promoted because someone wanted the couple to move apart ??? many a times this happens in a company where a woman/wife { with due regards to the lady in question and her calibre to be promoted } is promoted because some one who is promoting her was infatuated with her and wanted her to part ways with her husband .

    not many companies do such a thing , if the promotion does happen its with a transfer to some other unit .

    the husbands reaction is normal and so is the wifes if she is not wanting to discuss her promotion/ acceptence or not etc because as an working individual she has the right to . may be she sees no problem in the situation at all because personal and professional life are 2 different things


      • you mean this does not happen then you are mistaken its stark reality and people just close their eyes to stark realities of life . do reality checks all those who have given thumbs down .


      • It’s not stark reality. It’s just plain old ingrained sexism and misogyny.

        “She only got the promotion/job/whatever because she slept with the boss.” Right, a woman is never qualified enough to get the job. (sarcasm)

        This wouldn’t even come up if the it was a man that was promoted.


  10. I guess its tricky… ! I am just surprised they both are working in the same department… !

    As for the guy, I guess unless he goes through the ordeal he wouldnt know what happens… !

    The wisest thing to do would be to discuss these thoughts with his own wife… if he respects her and doesnt mind her progress then with an open mind tell her what is in his mind… !

    Still amazed how organisations allow this… firm believer relatives, spouses etc shouldnt be working in the same dept let alone being boss of one another.


  11. I agree with most of what has been written already. It’s surprising that the employer lets this happen, and it doesn’t strike me as insecurity at all. I feel that maybe your wife has not spoken to you about it because she is not sure how to approach it either. She might be plagued by the same doubts as you. Don’t let this undermine your intimacy – point to the elephant in the room and talk it over. Instead of making this about insecurity make this about intimacy – tell her exactly what you feel; I bet she has been thinking about it too. All the best 🙂


  12. I think you should really try to keep professional matters out of your personal life and not let it affect you. When there is lots to discuss in life like personal interests etc., Why is it important to discuss professional stuff at home. I think it will only make things worse especially if opinions differ as no two people can approach the problem in the same way…
    I know its easier said than done.. But definitely worth giving a try ..
    If there is an option, try moving to a different role within the company itself/ get released from your current project and opt for a different one etc.,.


    • That’s easy from the point of view of the spouse who is the boss (I say spouse, not husband/wife).
      But for the other spouse with these fears, it will be difficult.
      Heck, I’ll avoid it. there are lots of other companies that’ll hire me.


  13. How about the disciplinary action part?
    If he felt you were harsh on him, and said that at home, how would you handle that?

    If you knew the tonight that you’d be taking a disciplinary action tomorrow, (and let’s spice it up here, he is in a romantic mood tonight), would you let him know or hint?

    If there was a meeting about his performance with other managers and he is anxious to know what went on, and asks….. how would you react, especially if his performance is not very good?


    • I agree completely. Situations like this can be quite awkward. I think that at the end of the day, the company is the one being very unprofessional.


  14. Hmmm…if the tables were turned? if it was the husband who got the promotion and not the wife, would he as the husband have the same concerns?

    He really should sit down and talk to his wife, heart to heart(minus the ego’s) and sort it all out. Communication is the key to work and relationship.


  15. A husband and wife should never be in reporting positions in the same organization. As far as I am aware, organizations have a strict rule against this sometimes not allowing them to work together in the same department. It could lead to many complications including the ones on the personal level that this person has stated. His fears are very real. I think in their best interest, it would help if one of them changes jobs. He can discuss these fears with her, and if she is sensible, she will agree.


  16. I think the company might have done well to spend money to hire a better HR consultant before promoting one spouse over another let alone letting them work in the same department.

    I was declined a position as a faculty member in an institution, because my husband was the dean of the same department. Makes sense.

    Forget about the issues between the two people who are married, no a team member where one of my colleagues reports to his/her husband, would be comfortable. There is always an issue of nepotism lurking in the minds of others.

    And spare a thought for the poor husband, he will always get remarks like “Ah, his wife would have told him, helped him” even when his legitimate performance deserves accolades.
    Same with the wife reporting to husband.

    Regarding transparency:

    If the husband feels he needs to know something, the wife can take a promise that he will not leak out anything in any way and be frank. Here there is no question of man or woman, but the emotions of love between two humans. If I were this woman, I’d ask to be transferred to a different department, as that is far easier than asking my husband to move. A change of positions + A change of team is easier than Same position + internal transfer.

    And he is already hurt/feels bad. I will not further that pain by asking him to move.

    Disciplinary action:

    That’s not practically possible for me to take any disciplinary action on my spouse, as there is a conflict of interest in company policies, and the company would ensure that some one else handles the case, and I’d be in as much ignorance as he is, in this matter. Any complaint on him will never be addressed to me in the first place.

    And same with meetings regarding his promotions: I would be allowed to discuss others’ performance, but I’d be out when his are being discussed.

    That’s why companies do not allow this to happen in the first place.

    Remember, other colleagues might always accuse of nepotism and which sensible company will want that?

    And yes, I would have asked him if he’s like me not to take the promotion. After all, the spouses live for one another. Just as I expect him to respect my growth, I should be sensitive and respectful of his soft emotions.

    And I’d talk to him about this, and not wait for him to talk first. Love takes 2 people, and when one has fears about the relationship, the other can take the lead and comfort.


    • Do you know that this ‘husband in question’ has revealed about his fear to his wife.. I don’t think he has done it yet.. So I don’t think the wife can take the lead here..
      It’s very much possible that the woman would NOT have known this side of her husband so far(not that it’s bad).
      She may be completely ignorant that his fear has grown so imminent to have come to this forum for public opinion.


      • “And I’d talk to him about this, and not wait for him to talk first. Love takes 2 people, and when one has fears about the relationship, the other can take the lead and comfort.”

        She did not even ask his opinion, when till now she has. She has told this promotion as an information.
        That leads me to think she has already started to make his fears of transparency real.


      • In simple words what I am trying to state here is that though wife has already informed him about the promotion, she may be completely unaware of his fears and hence cannot take the first move to sort it out..


  17. When i used to work i never brought my work home nor husband did that.We hardly discussed work at home.It is always better to leave the work at office rather then getting it to home.

    What i feel is husband should not be a hindrance to the wife’s growth and same goes with the wife too.He should change his mindset and treat his wife at office as any other colleague or boss.


  18. Think about in reverse. Husband is the boss of wife, both working in same office. If that do not create a problem, this should not obviously create any issues between them. But for the Company it may be better not to have such arrangement.


  19. You must not let your wife exercise the option of turning down the promotion.
    It will rankle in her mind for the rest of your married lives.

    Your options are:

    1)Be proud of your wife, and calmly accept the situation in the same way you would if someone else had been promoted.

    I know that is a TALL ORDER. 99 percent men can’t accept this situation.
    You can take some consolation from the fact that most women too will not like this situation.

    But then for any male employee where is the guarantee that tomorrow his rival male colleague or another lady won’t become his boss? Particularly one he may be jealous of?
    Or, worse, a brilliant meritorious junior and a lady to boot, won’t supersede him? It is not unheard of.
    At some point in everyone’s career, such a thing is bound to happen, or else every single employee in every company will become the Chairman and CEO.

    If the ego that is embedded in male genes just can’t stand this then:

    2)Seek a transfer to another department so that you don’t have to work under her.
    This is only a half measure.
    Some problems will still remain.
    I don’t recommend this except as an interim measure while you try for option 3) below

    3)Look for another job even it takes some time.
    May be that is what your company also secretly wants?
    Or else I can’t imagine why a company should do this.
    It is unwise management and HR policy.

    I recommend 1) if you can stand it. Or else 3) if you are capable of it.
    Treat this as a challenge and work harder and better and try getting ahead of your wife just to prove your point!
    Are you equal to this task? I only hope your wife does not slacken just to give you an advantage.

    Please congratulate your wife on my behalf.

    Whatever you decide, I wish you both well.


    • I totally agree with this , this is infact what I was going to say. have a talk with your wife and let her know that you support her and the growth of her carreer. By asking her to refuse this, it will definitely rankle her mind like GV said. Also let her know that it puts you in an awkward situation and what your concerns are.Try to separate work from home affairs, a good boss never mixes up personal affairs at home and shows it on the employees. meanwhile start looking for another job even it takes time , you never know, you probably have better offers waiting outside for you!


    • GV

      It’s a tad unfair to compare this with a younger women becoming his boss. You are insinuating that he has an issue with his boss being younger and/or a woman. Nowhere in his letter does he express that. This is strictly a case of poor HR policy coming into play. It matters little whether he’s the boss or his wife, it will result in some really awkward situations both at work and at home.

      I personally think IHM has made it worse by highlighting your least convincing points.


    • Two things:
      1) Insubordination is easier when someone we dislike gets to be our boss. If we are worth something to the company we can either discuss this matter with the HR and get reassigned to another department or simple insubordinate long enough for the company to deal with this ‘nuisance’ by a reassignment. I have used the second option in my career. I can’t see the man using either of these options, without his wife being embittered enough to destroy the (personal) relationship.
      2) Ego is a universal human trait. It is a psycho-social trait both in men and women, designed to protect their self-esteem and sense of individuality. In patriarchial husband-wife relationships, it is less apparent because it has not only been socially conditioned, but it does not really hurt a woman’s status in the larger social framework if she is subservient to her husband. Although of course, thanks to women’s liberation, things are changing. The reverse rarely works, except on those 1% of world cultures where is it more socially acceptable for women to wear the proverbial ‘pants in the relationship’. And hint: It is not the United States or any6 of the usual countries Indians refer to as ‘the west’.


  20. I know of a husband-wife team, completed college the same year, joined a company together, got married and then the husband edged past to become her boss, in the same office. It was no fun for her because he did not even treat her as he would a real subordinate. He was more ‘bossy’ dumped work on her that should have been given to juniors, but expected her to help him out without questions. The junior men in the office (the wife was his immediate subordinate and rightfully things had to go through her) by passed her and went directly to the boss. Her husband did not pull them up for the lapse and he wondered what the big issue was when she pointed this out to him, how she was left out of the loop (on account of being a woman? Or his wife?). Since the man was the boss in this case, his wife took most things meekly though extremely agitated about it.
    So I don’t think it is just a matter of the wife being the boss here (which in itself is difficult for men to digest), but when a couple are working in the same office and one among them is boss to the other, things do become difficult.
    I think the man has first to think about how it would be if he were the one promoted, Would he have thought so much about it? Wouldn’t he have accepted it without a thought and expected his wife to be happy for him? Let him give honest thought to that… and then keeping in mind whatever he takes away from that introspection, he and his wife can have a heart to heart discussion.


  21. I see some comments that have been written by people who have not put themselves in the shoes of the husband and his feelings.

    Someone says what if the tables were turned. Now, that’s an argument.

    That’s irrelevant here. Will this help that man? The comments should give suggestions to how to approach this. To him and his wife.

    He has clearly stated the issue – lack of transparency – I understand.

    He would be uncomfortable to be romantic with his wife when he knows she knows something vitally important to his career, has control over it and will not talk to him about it for the hierarchy.
    It would be easy for the wife, because she is in control, but not for the guy because he is unsure and insecure.

    And let’s be frank – even a sensitive wife who bares her heart to her husband will have the expectation that it should be reciprocated in any situation. I get the feeling this man is a sensitive man, not the stereotypical macho guy, he is emotionally attached to his sweetheart and fears this will take her away from him mentally, by the barriers mentioned.

    May be to him, the sun rises before her and sets behind her. He confides in her totally in everything. And when he sees a situation where it may not be given back, he is hurt. Quite rightly so. There is no chauvinism. It’s an emotional hold. I’d respect it. There is a time when we should be intellectual and argue (easy for commenting) and there is a time when the feelings must be given a priority – heart over head. Head always – please remain single. We need a thoughtful mixture of both in an emotional situation.

    Usually, boys who grow up looking forward to some sort of an emotional support will be like this. If the parents of this boy had made him self secure, this might be the case.

    The girl is fortunate to have such a loving husband, and she’s be wise to ensure the marriage is not shaken due to a career. And the initiative need not always be from a man’s side, especially when he is not in a stable mental frame.

    Careers come and go, Money comes and goes, love is there to stay.

    I’d never work under my spouse or above her. Or even in the same institution. that to me, is a recipe for disaster that’s gulp us in one tsunamic gulp.


  22. These are common these days; easy and only possible solution one should move on to different work. This will not strain relationship; at the end of the day wife is wife you will have plenty of love and affection. Do not think too much; keep moving.


  23. Firstly, Congratulations on having earned the promotion. you are tha face of modern Indian woman.
    A tough call, but why not divorce him? He is so thinking of his own fears that he does not ask how his wife would feel?
    Instead of livinh a hell of a life with a husband who has inferiority complex, tell him you’d move on with your life and divorce him. Marry a man of your status. It’s going to hurt him but as a progressive woman, I guess you need to make the call.
    Move on in life. you have one life and live it.


    • Ananya, your suggestion is absolutely devoid of any logic.

      Firstly, it’s the husband who wrote the email, and you’re addressing the wife, who in all probability doesn’t even know of the existence of this post.

      You imply that “modern Indian women” solve all problems with Divorce, and chase after equality in status with their spouse (or a higher “status”, which equates to social climbing) Divorcing a man who’s a rung lower at work is not “progressive”.

      While feminists will argue for their spouse’s right to wipe their baby’s butt, they’ll also fight ( very non-submissively, and non-manipulatively) for their right to live with the person they love, even if HE or SHE is perceived by Society to be their professional/social inferior. You seem to think that every woman has the need to feel their partner is their superior in some way, and will lose “respect” for them if they don’t.

      Luckily, you couldn’t be more wrong. Most women love their men for the person they are, not for reasons like they’re older, earn more money, or that they are at higher positions at work. We (I’m speaking for the “modern, Indian woman” here) do not treat them like kings (read, we don’t wait on them hand and foot, or treat their word like gospel truth, or defer to their opinions), we treat them as lovers and best friends, we fight with them over big things and small, we cry on their shoulders (or chests, for the more vertically challenged –don’t look at me– of us), we hug them when they’re low, we pull their legs relentlessly because, hey, they do the same, we tell them off when they’re being jerks, because, hey, they do the same. There is no hypocrisy in the relationship, no thinking one thing and saying another, no bitterness, no feeling of missing out. And yes, if we grow apart, if things change as they sometimes do, we walk out, with hearts broken maybe, but with our dignity intact. and no, our lives aren’t over then.

      I suspect your sarcasm hides some real bitter feelings towards women who have the courage to do what they want, and excel at it. You seem successful professionally, and seem happy with your personal life, why this antipathy towards the “feminists”?



  24. Guys lets keep HR away;

    I have many resources reporting to me; out of it two pairs got married and one is on the way and we are abroad @ client location. Tell me how should i rate these pairs?


    • Based on their performance mate. Period.
      And in case you promote women and their husbands feel the same way as the husband here, route them to this blog ….


  25. Your concerns are real. What kind of company you both are working in?? It’s bad of them to put you both in such a fix, its really tough. The company has already demotivated you, so its better to start searching for another job. Next, talk to your wife “Baat karne se hi baat banti hai” Assuming you and your wife do not have any choice at the moment but to accept the situation, just be mentally prepared to accept her as your boss, it will make your life easy. In the meanwhile, just hang in there and take each day as it comes. Do not let, people or your ego ruin your relationship. I know its not easy but who said life is gonna be easy or fair?? I just hope, you both are able to talk it out and take a rational decision and enjoy your life together forever. Good luck.


  26. tcs had a husband wife duo, husband being the boss provided the best ratings and payraise to the wife very candidly admitting anything otherwise would strain the relationship. HR never intervened and the couple laughed all the way to the bank.

    Who gains in such situations, obviously the family. This is a god given opportunity , take it and you can milk your company to make some fast buck. all other fears are unfounded.


  27. My piece of suggestion to this bloke is:

    You say you share a good bond. In true love, there is no barrier, why don’t you verbally copy paste this to her? I mean, talk all you have written, to her?

    Do not be any different while talking – I mean – do not try to be holding back thinking you are talking to a boss etc…… be normal and talk as you would talk with your wife….. Ask her whatever you want to ask…..

    I cannot say what decision you will have to take about her promotion – but remember – that decision has to be a mutually consented one. It is equivalent to saying if you got a promotion, you should discuss with your wife on the implications and take a decision that is mutually agreed upon.

    In love, there is no barrier. I am sure if she shares a close bond with you, she would not use this as an opportunity to prove a point, be vindictive or harass you. That would be petty and from the fact that you share a close bond and love her so much, I cannot see her becoming petty over night.

    In case she gets petty, it just means she is not worthy of her love, when she allowed a promotion get to her head and go power tripped. You can move on.


      • Hi BD, I don’t think a woman can be termed “petty” and “not worthy of the husband’s love” in the event that she still wants to take up her new role. May be she really deserved that promotion. May it will leave her hurt for life if the husband denied her from taking the new role.
        And assuming she denied, what is the guarantee that the same issue won’t pop-up a few years later and haunt the couple again. So do you say, the wife keeps denying promotions throughout life just to stay happy in marriage.
        I would definitely say that little things like these become a recipe for disaster and ruin the marriage. So it’s better to talk about it now and if the husband still feels uncomfortable reporting to his wife, then I think he needs to move-on and look for greener pastures..
        I don’t think anybody should really sit and discuss if they need to accept/deny promotion and get each other’s mutual consent instead of rejoicing on their joint success …..


      • I guess you have not understood what I said.
        I said if she gets petty after the promotion – which means – if she uses this as an opportunity to harass him/get even/whatever, then she is not worthy of his love.
        Fair enough


      • Hello sqtel! excuse me….. where did i say she should not accept the promotion? I said it has to be a mutually agreed upon one. And I said if she ill treats him, then she is not worthy of her husband’s love, because she allowed her ego get the better of her.


      • BD,

        Marriage does not mean the loss of individuality and/or space…Sure, for big decisions, the husband and wife should consult each other but not for each and every decision…For instance, if I want to go out with my friends for dinner, I do NOT need to ask my husband for permission and vice-versa…I do not need to tell my husband my e-mail password so he can keep tabs on me…Space in any relationship is essential…


      • Sraboney:
        As much as I respect your views, that’s an individual couple’d way of dealing.
        Don’t expect all couples to be like that.
        I know of many many happily married couples who share everything from their e-mail passwords and everything!
        It’s a question of how close you are willing to let your own spouse come to you.
        It’s an individual choice.
        Just as it’s wrong for them to think all couples must be like them, its wrong for people like you to say all couples mush have that space, privacy etc…..
        To me, my husband is my half of self….. and to him, me……
        And we share passwords….. not for the low and cheap practice of keeping tabs on each other but to help each other by checking mails when one of us is busy with something else. Of course we do not compose e-mails for each other.
        That’s how close I am willing to let my husband be to me, I am comfortable with it, thank you very much.
        If you are the way you are, I am the way I am.
        So, no universal rules please….. I am not saying Sraboney is trying to make it universal rule. I am saying to this forum at large, that it’s not that only “your type” of marriages work….. Brownie Gounder for instance….. I am happy for you. But do not make it sound that you’ve found that elusive formula to keep a marriage happy.
        There are millions of couples, and to each, their.
        Let’s agree to disagree.

        PS: I am no troll. It’s so low to be judgemental and dismissive.


        • Ananya if your friends send you emails, are they aware that your husband can (if he does decide to) access your email and read their emails too? I think you should tell them.


        • Ideally if both, husband and wife can get jobs elsewhere, they should quit this job for bringing them to this situation. They might already be feeling awkward with each other and others in the organization. They should ensure that they never work in the same organization again


        • Ananya, what if the wife’s parents want to send her a private email? On the other hand the husband’s folk may also want to share something in private with him. Are there no compartments? Or does everyone know you share your password with your husband? Sorry for the personal question. It’s hard to believe that anyone can do away with privacy, even if the person concerned is the spouse.


      • @IHM – I and my spouse share passwords too. And to add to that we work in the same office. But like Ananya said, we don’t go snooping into each other’s laptop. We share because, well invariable we end up opening the nearest laptop to surf and the other tells the password. We just trust each other to respect our privacy. As for letting friends know that our spouses can read their email – I don’t think that is required. Simply because, I would probably end up discussing their email with my spouse anyways even if he never read it. I friends should be prepared for the fact that if I know something about them, most probably my spouse does too. If they are uncomfortable with that, they should not tell me too.


        • It’s possible that they are aware that you might share what they share with you with your husband, but it’s a good idea to let them know, just in case they don’t.
          Sharing of passwords is not right or wrong, but expecting that as a right (that passwords would be shared) might create problems if one of the partners doesn’t feel it is required.


      • I guess these posts tend to westernize the concept of marriage in India.
        I agree there must be more respect for one another, but marriage in India cannot be seen as just a pact between two adults living together.
        There is a much stronger emphasis on emotions. All I say is the man must also respect the woman’s emotions and rights.
        But to return indifference with indifference is wrong.

        Me – These posts are about realistic approach towards marriage and love.
        Did you read the posts?


      • 8. Keep your personal space and make decisions for yourself. Discussing things and consulting each other is good, but don’t allow anyone to tell you what to do when you don’t agree with it yourself.

        I beg to disagree with the above point.
        What is a personal space between a husband and a wife, in a marriage?
        In a marriage, every decision, especially big ones like this need to be mutually consented ones.
        One needs to think about what impact that decision will have on the other person, in a loving relationship.
        being bullheaded will be ok for hostel room-mates but not for husband-wife relationships.
        Better to remain single, if someone has an attitude like that, or find someone similar.
        State clearly before marriage. Not after marriage.


      • Hi BD,

        I’m married to an Indian man. We live in India. I’m Indian too. And we’re very happy in our marriage, thank you very much. The reason we’re happy is precisely because we don’t dictate terms to each other but consult each other. And if I disagree with my husband or he disagrees with me about a decision we each have to take, we agree to disagree and do what we think is best. That post wasn’t hypothetical or a description of an ideal situation. It is a description of a real marriage. So please don’t be so dismissive.


    • @Ananya- I did not claim that I’ve found the elusive formula for a successful marriage. If I’d married someone with your views for instance, none of the points I’d listed would work. Simply because it’s obvious we won’t see eye to eye on anything. However, the list was on what makes my marriage work and that it is possible for a marriage to work with these principles. I also made sure before I got married that my husband and I were on the same page about all these things. You see, as hard as it might be for you to believe, he wanted the same things too. We may not be kings and queens in our marriage, but we’re pretty happy to be plebians.

      @BD- When a mutual decision cannot be reached, then the partner on whom the decision rests should decide (in this case, it is the woman who has to give the answer to her company). I’m not saying that she should disregard her husband’s views or whatever….they should of course have an open discussion about the issue. But despite the discussion, if she decides she still wants the offer, then it is up to her to decide and the other partner should have the grace to accept the decision in good faith. This is my view of it and I’m sure you’ll disagree. But that’s life.


      • /@Gounder Brownie
        //”We may not be kings and queens in our marriage, but we’re pretty happy to be plebians”//
        Exactly! But that seems a little hard for some people to understand 😀


      • Dear Gounder Brownie,

        I respect your views.

        But I differ and I suppose I have the right to.

        When a mutual decision has to be reached, the decision must be based on who would be affected more – If I as the husband, took that promotion despite my wife’s problems like the above in her reporting to me, I would be leaving an emotional scar in her heart and to me, the way I love my wife, SHE and HER feelings are wayyyyy more important than a mere promotion. If I was good enough to get a promotion here, I can find another job in the higher lever outside.

        it’s the priorities that matter. To me, personally, my wife is more important. Others can differ. Respect!

        And asking her to move out when she is not ok reporting to me is sheer bullying. I’d atleast request the HR to be moved to a team where I’d not be her boss. And I will not want my other colleagues get even a tiny doubt in their mind if I would be favouring my wife. Working in the same place is difficult enough. Few can manage, I admire them. But I am not one of them, and I have nothing to be ashamed of that.

        Few can score 14000 runs in test cricket. Yet, lesser mortals in the game need not be ashamed.

        To me, marriage is an emotional bond, not a deal or a pact where one of us can walk out. If she will not adjust, I WILL, because I LOVE HER. Not because some one forces me to, not due to some stigma, but out of my own volition and love for my spouse.

        We are different as persons. Respect from my side.

        But my type of persona can never be spouses with your type of persons, and vice versa. There is no need either. As I said in one of my comments, not all 5 fingers are the same.

        I really liked the part where you said you made sure you married a gentleman who’d be on the same page as you. That’s exactly what I have written in another long comment on being sure when choosing a life partner.

        Wish you a good time 🙂


        • My one concern here would be, what if the wife who didn’t want to make a career when she was younger and getting married, finds after some years that she would like to work? And what if she actually is very good at whatever she does start doing?
          People grow and evolve, I know many women choose to work once their kids start going to school. Sometimes women start working because the family needed the added income and then they realise they love what they are doing.

          BD, if she was not offered the position of his boss, but was doing very well in another field – do you think even then the email writer would have a problem?


      • @IHM:

        I cannot speak for the man who wrote this e-mail. So I do not know, how he’d take it if she was successful in some other field. looks like he would be ok.
        From what I read, I get the feeling his issue is not about his wife doing better than him, but rather how this new hierarchy would affect the transparency and hence the relationship.
        He also seems to wonder how to keep work and life apart.
        I sincerely believe this will never happen in a workplace, I have asked a few senior HR friends and they assured me that to their knowledge, no company would let this happen, as their own productivity would come down id the workers had issues. Also, nepotism lurks.
        All I can tell regarding the ladies working is – If a man is so particular that his wife should not supersede him at work/clash with him in the workplace, choose a partner whose chances of superseding him (in position/salary/whatever) are very small.
        It is only wrong if he whines after choosing a girl who would challenge him.

        I work to live, not live to work and my spouse is more important to me than my career. That’s a principle many like me share. And we’d be looking for women who share that philosophy.

        having said that, I am not judging those who differ. they are right in their own ways and let them be happy with spouses like them. let me be happy with spouses like me.


  28. Hi,

    This gentleman’s letter really interested me enough to dig into some old blogs to search where I had read something similar.
    I understand his problem is an universal problem and I have read some of the posts by Alicia Green in her blog Askamanager.org where she discusses something similar to this (though not the same scenario). Please find below some of the links.


    Be it male or female, it is difficult to report into/ be the boss of any one who is related to us or our friends, if we still want to maintain a personal relationship with them.

    I can empathize with the gentleman because I have had my friend reporting into me at work and it put a major strain on our friendship and it must be that much tougher for him.


  29. And do not worry, if your wife has to discuss anything about you, she’d tell you. Just keep it within your heart and keep that mouth of yours tightly shut.
    And regarding disciplinary action:
    I think your wife will prevent you from doing that mistake that will land you there, as she as a boss would know what’s going on. Do you think she will sit back and wait watch your mess grow till you have to face a disciplinary meeting? She’d let you know way before, what you are doing wrong and how to get it right.
    And why don’t you see this as an opportunity to go further – your boss knows your strengths and weaknesses, so she’d assign you duties that will make your talents shine, and it’s pretty legitimate, as that’s what a leader is supposed to do.
    And in return, you work well, have a good sync with your boss, and she also gets 5* for her team’s performance!
    You will get a promotion also, I am sure no one will blame when the company is benefited due to this association.
    If an unrelated team member becomes your boss, he/she may want to prove a point and be bossy or whatever. Generally a spouse will not do that. She/He will only help wherever possible. Atleast reasonable people will do that only.
    From your e-mail I can see you are an emotional guy, even a sweet guy from your wife’s point of view. To share a close bond with you is possible only for another sweet girl who is willing to talk to you, love you and be considerate, as guys of your type can demand a lot of attention and love.
    So, your sweetheart is only going to help you in all probabilities. SEE THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY, NOT ADVERSITY. you have a boss who knows you and so, will help you shine, better than other bosses who you do not know.

    And yes, you have the right to ask her WHATEVER you want to know, and keep it confidential, because if you do not, she will get screwed. It depends on how much trust you have built in her in these 5 years of your relationship.

    Regarding the “madam” part, treat that as a ritual that you have to do. Only if there is that egoistic demand from your wife comes, you need to worry. Or do this: Make a pact that you’ll knock her office door twice and that means it’s you. Speak, speak. She is no new person to you. I tell you, both of you will have a giggle over that Madam part, once you both know that’s not the demand from the egos of her heart.

    The reason she just mentioned is she is hesitant to talk to you about it, not knowing how to begin. You talk. Man, you can eat the food she cooks, wear the clothes she washed, have your sexual pleasures from her but can’t you open your heart and talk? I am sure if you have a serious problem with it, she is going to respect that. Most Indian women do. And in future, if she is in your shoes, return the compliment.


  30. In the first place spouses should never be working in the same organization. If they do, then the departments should never be the same. Now that they have landed in this sticky situation, either the wife should refuse the promotion or one of them should quit this job and take up another job elsewhere immediately. If stuck in this situation, each day could bring with it irreparable damage to the relationship.


  31. I think this raises two important issues. One is cultural and the other corporate governance.

    I know many guys who would have ideally negotiated well with a situation of their wives earning more or doing better professionally than them but were made to feel insecure by family and friends. Women too in this regard often lose respect for their husbands if they are earning less than them… This is mainly because of societal expectations on the role of a man.

    Second point is why does this company allow a couple to work in the same department or office space. That is terribly unhealthy for the company. I mean if a employee has a affair with his/her boss, companies take a bleak view of it. Why do they not do that for married couples?

    As far as advise to the guy on dealing with this situation, read out your post to your wife.


    • Grt piece of advise. I think the husband should just send the link to this post with a note that they can discuss the issue after a while …The wife will then be able to understand the background of the issue and would give a thought before discussing with her husband …


  32. @IHM:
    Would anything change if the the wife refuses this promotion offer to save her marriage?

    Ok, I am a man and I am saying from my perspective as a man:

    If I were in the place of this spouse where I get a feeling that my wife has all these fears:

    I’d have a gentle talk, heart to heart, eye to eye, an arm around her shoulders with a genuine concern for her feelings. And If I find that her fears are not something I can dispel despite talking, and when she has been a wonderful spouse and a person thus far, I would save the marriage by declining the offer. it’s more than saving the marriage – It’s a statement I am making to my wife, YOU are MY FIRST PRIORITY, honey.

    And see, I earn to be happy in life with my wife, and the same with her. A career is a path to earn, and we all choose fulfilling careers. But the bottom line is I am earning for my family. So when the career which is supposed to provide happiness in family is becoming a cause for my wife’s worry, I will let the career take a back seat.

    Perhaps, when she sees my priorities with her on top, her fears might be dispelled!

    It’s a personal thing – and a thing that’s specific to every relationship – on that given situation, is the relationship more important than the career? To me, with a loving, sensitive and emotional spouse like the LW, sounds yes.


      • After talking him through, if he still feels this way, and if he has been a good and loving husband and the marriage was wonderful, there is no need to let this mar the marriage.
        Such a career oriented woman should never choose to marry a man like this, without making sure she discusses how her career would impact him.
        To marry him and then be bull headed
        is only going to hurt him, especially when he loves him.
        there is nothing wrong in being career oriented as a lady but it is wrong to expect and assume every man to be supportive of her when she advances.
        It must have been discussed before marriage by such women and men.


    • @BD THe assumption is the man has issues with this wife’s promotion as he is in the same office. Which can be problematic I can understand. I doubt anywhere in the letter he says he has problems with her success.

      If he feels so strongly about it working togeather, maybe he needs to find a different workplace..

      By the way, not all things in long relationships like marriages can be discussed before getting married. People change and so do their ideas about life, career and in general so many things. Frankly if you live with people day in day out, they just have to deal with these changes or move on.


  33. I am quoting from sqtel’s comment:
    “I don’t think anybody should really sit and discuss if they need to accept/deny promotion and get each other’s mutual consent instead of rejoicing on their joint success …..”


    When sqtel says there need not be any talking about this and it’s the wife’s decision alone – is he/she not making the same mistake that a husband makes, when he accepts the promotion without considering his wife who would have to be his subordinate???

    So, is the mentality this:

    Men have been inconsiderate to wives in the past. So this wife should be like the husbands who did not care for their wives?
    As someone told in another comment: Two wrongs do not make a right. They only compound the heinousness of one another.

    So, when you all lament that a husband would not have considered all this if he got the promotion, you resent that self centered decision.

    But here, you want the wife to do the same thing – take a self centered decision to accept it, regardless of the husband’s feelings.

    Do you see the double standards? If the husband does it’s wrong. So, because husbands did that wrong, it’s now ok if this wife does it to her husband.

    How can you take revenge on this guy for what previous generations of men did to their women?


  34. A piece of suggestion to career oriented ladies who are looking to marry:

    If you want to be a career oriented woman, you have all the rights to be so. Go ahead.
    But make sure you clearly discuss that with your potential partner before marrying, and make sure he will be secure and supportive of you.
    It’s an ideal world to expect all men will support.The world is not ideal. it is better for you and your husband that you choose a guy who would be supportive rather than marry one who will not be and then whinge.
    There are different people and different mentalities.
    All wont suit all.
    So, along with setting a priority in life, setting clear conditions before marriage is always good.
    That way you can avoid hurting another human being.
    That guy can happily marry a person he will be comfortable with, someone who won’t or can’t supersede him. It’s his life and he can make a choice.

    Same for men:
    Make sure you marry the girl after making sure that your career goals do not clash.
    Do not be ashamed to ask her. you are not being a chauvinist. By avoiding a career oriented woman if you are not compatible with such a person, you are ensuring she gets to marry a supportive man, and you get to marry someone who won’t challenge you.

    It is a win-win situation.

    Not all 5 fingers are of same length. Not ever man will be to your expectations by being secure with your success when you challenge him. So, before marriage, avoid them.

    Same to men:
    Not all women would be the happy home maker you want her to be, or the one who would sacrifice her career for you. Nothing wrong both ways. Choose the one who will suit you. It’s an individual choice. Feel free to choose the right kind of person you would want, and be happy in life. And that’s what we all want.


  35. I am not quite sure how I would react if I were to be in his shoes, or even his wife’s shoes. In an “ideal” case, I would think the personal and professional life should be completely separate and even if he has to report to his wife and address her as madam it should be ok. But even trying hard to keep personal and professional lives apart can lead to a lot of mental stress which can affect their relationship.

    But I think in this case, it would help if the husband talks openly about this to his wife. Considering they have a close relationship and talk about everything, having an open communication about this issue should not be a problem. It would be best to talk to her about what she feels, regarding this arrangement and whether she feels it would affect the relationship.

    The husband and I are in the same profession but I would not like to work in the same company. The only reason being I do prefer a change of scene between home and work. With completely different set of colleagues and work buddies.


  36. I can totally understand the guy’s point of view. Even if the situation was revered, things would be equally awkward and uncomfortable. Most companies infact have policies that avoid such situations – In this case it doesn’t help if the woman accepts the offer or not – I feel one of them or both of the should look for a change – a better role in some other company with better work ethics and policies.


  37. Both parties need to be mature as an adult and as a professional to handle this.
    1. If we want real equality between women and men in the workplace, we cannot find fault with a company for creating a situation where one of the spouses has to report to the other. The two people are individuals at the company who should be evaluated as separate and unrelated individuals. It is up to the couple to manage their own relationship.

    2. Yes, there will be meetings she will have to go to where she will be made privy to discussions that are not meant to be shared with the rest of the employees. In these cases neither should the husband ask for such information, nor should the wife volunteer to share it with the husband. This is what one would expect if the guy were superior, correct? So what’s different now?

    3. On all other matters, they can share everything that goes on like normal colleagues/married couple.

    4. There is of course the matter of interfering colleagues and non-colleague friends/family who will purposely bring this disparity into conversations or even act weird around you. There are various ways to deal with it. One example: when my husband and I first started to work at the same place several years ago, there were people who asked me “where is your husband?” at meetings. I simply said, “I leave my husband at home when I come to work”. When my husband was asked “where is ” he invariably answered, “no clue”. And it was true. When at work we never really care about each other’s schedule. We are two individuals doing what we were hired to do. Similar tactics can be used to deflect stupid comments that essentially imply “so now she is your boss at work too” or “so now, you will know everything that you should not know because your spouse does”. Very soon people will learn to not ask you questions like this.

    5. As for asking the woman to give up her position, it is completely unfair. Why would you ask her to make this sacrifice if you really were solid in your relationship? If she is a professional why would she bring your domestic fights into the work place? Same with you. Why would you let your home relationship affect how you relate to her at work place? At work, she is just another colleague. Period.

    Bottom line: no workplace should have to lose a valuable member of the work force just because they are married to someone. No person should have to sacrifice their career ambitions because they are married to someone.


    • I shall refrain from commenting upon your knowledge (or the lack of it) about HR policies in companies.
      Ok great. A promotion to wife, and she accepts it despite her husband’s problems reporting to her. Now you all say he should change jobs.
      That’s tantamount to saying “Listen husband, now you are going to report to me, it’s upto you if you want to or not, get out if you don’t want it”! That’s ridiculous, isn’t it?

      if a husband said the same thing when he gets a promotion and his wife should report to him: He says “Look, I have this promotion, I am telling you as an information, not asking if you are ok with reporting to your husband, if you are not ok, get lost and change jobs! Damn, I am not caring what you feel”. Then you’ll be all support for the wife, her emotions, the emotional abuse, her great grief, the fawning forums and commissions……..

      let’s be rational…… It’s much more than just keeping two compartments. things will spill over. Some exceptions will exist but they will not be examples.


      • “I shall refrain from commenting upon your knowledge (or the lack of it) about HR policies in companies.”

        — Good that you did, because I know of a couple in exactly the situation you have described, in India in a very good company.
        They live a very happy life in India.


  38. I’d be very surprised if the letter was a fictitous fantasy by a nervous young man woefully oblivious to the strong HR policies of companies. Even small universities have policies where a spouse will not be in the same department where the other spouse is a HOD of dean.

    When I worked as a teaching assiatant in a north American University, we had to disclose if we were dating any of the students. We’d not be allowed to mark the class’s papers or proctor (supervise) exams the class wrote when 1 in 500 was the person we dated or in a relationship with! With such HR policies, I think this guy is living in imaginary fears. Will someone shake him out of his dreams? 😀

    Or, as Nish asserts, he/she is a troll.


    • I work at an American University, so I can state the following with complete knowledge of the process and procedures.
      Yes, if you are a TA, a professor or for that matter any employee, you will have to make a full disclosure on who you are going out with or who you are personally involved with — this includes any member of the family, not just spouse. This is what you put on a conflict of interest form that you sign every year. This, however, does not mean that one of them will be asked to leave. By signing the form, you are essentially agreeing that you will not use undue pressure/unethical practices etc to either promote (or for that matter destroy!) the interests of your spouse/family member in the workplace. It also means that you can be sued if you choose to do any of the above.
      Yes, a TA will not be allowed to grade the paper of anyone they are personally involved with, so the TA will be assigned to another course. This is because of the fact that there is not a committee that grades papers, there is only one individual responsible for it. In theory, that student’s paper alone could be assigned to another TA and let the TA grade everything else, but it is just easier to assign the TA to another course.

      Spouses do work in the same department in a university. There are several examples where one is an HOD and the other is not or one is a Dean and the other is a faculty member. There are universities in the midwest in America, where they actively advertise saying academic couples are welcome, so that they can attract more talent to their university. This is seen as a good thing by the community as this shows a commitment from the university to better standards of professional maturity!

      This is how you handle the situation where one spouse is in a decision making position with regards to the other:

      If there is any decision that needs to be taken that will affect the status of the other spouse for example: salary increase, promotion etc, the spouse who is in the higher position walks out of the committee that makes that decision *for only the case of their spouse*, they continue to function exactly normally for all other situations. The spouses case is handled by others in the committee.

      Is it extra burden on the couple to make everything work? Yes, because not only should they be fair and honest, but they also need to appear to be fair and honest. But that is the extra effort they will have to put in because they love their jobs as well as their spouse. It is possible to have both, if you so choose. Everything does not have to boil down to a “one or the other” situation.


  39. @Brownie Gounder:

    “And if I disagree with my husband or he disagrees with me about a decision we each have to take, we agree to disagree and do what we think is best.”
    My dear friend, that’s ok as long as the decision does not impact the other person, like you work in a different company and you get a promotion. then it’s not affecting him directly. he is not reporting to you.
    Here, if you accept the promotion it not only means you are now higher up in the company, but also it means he has to report to you.
    That affects and impacts him directly in this LW case.
    So, here, the decision must involve him and only if he is also ok, the wife should accept it.
    Same with the husband accepting a promotion if his wife is to report to him. he needs to take her heart and feelings into the equation.


    • Yes. There is a direct impact of this decision on the personal and professional life of the other spouse so the decision must be mutually agreed upon.


  40. sad and unlucky.. working in same office is bad, even if the guy had been the women’s boss.. Together at office together at home.. there is no distance here..
    i think the women should have asked the husband before accepting the offer, since this is serious shit..
    i think the man should tell her wife to not take the offer, she cant enter his turf.. (i guess the wife is currently in a different company and plans to join his company)

    i believe relationships work because of the space and distance it provides, a relationship that is too close is bound to fail. Workspace should be a place where they should be distant from each other.

    Even children feel uncomfortable if their mom is a teacher at the same school.


    • “Even children feel uncomfortable if their mom is a teacher at the same school.”

      Very true, Maya! My dad was a professor in my college and I did not want to be in the class he’d teach physics. I could not skip the occasional class, he’d know. But I would have coca cola and samosas with him and my friends at the food court… and guess who paid the bills?….. he’s a lovely man anyway!


  41. Pingback: From the modern, Indian woman to Shravan Kumar. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  42. I like this guy. He has feelings and is very articulate in expressing them. Don’t we women say we want our husbands to open up to us about their feelings? We beg them to be open and honest with us. Should we then diss them because those aren’t the feelings we want them to have? And then he has the courage to send this to a feminist blog

    This is, of course, an unconscionable situation. If HR can’t work it out, perhaps he , as the lower earner of the two, should consider working for another company.


  43. Just curious, but didn’t the couple ever think about this when they began working together? Did they not consider all the different circumstances that could emerge if they started working together? If they really are as close as the man has claimed, I find it hard to believe that this did not come up for discussion before the wife joined the same organisation.


  44. Pingback: What to do when a wife forges ahead « Desi Woman's Guide

  45. Like many other commenters here, I would have been very uncomfortable if I had to report to my husband at work; and I am sure the same is the case for him. And it’s not just about egos here – it’s very difficult to separate home and work and not let the dynamics at one place affect the dynamics at the other. For example, if I were upset with my husband about the quality of his work at office, neither of us would be in a very pleasant mood that evening after coming back home. Also, as a boss, one of us would have access to confidential information that the other cannot access, and (in my opinion atleast) this could be upsetting and lead to trust issues between the couple.
    The perception of colleagues also matters. One of my colleagues was dating her manager – and everyone on her team agreed that her rapid promotions and innumerable foreign trips were all an outcome of the relationship. Now maybe she was a very good resource who deserved all of this; but she had to work with some very resentful colleagues who felt she didn’t. And there was a lot fo negativity towards the manager also because of his (perceived?) favouritism. This is not a conducive environment to work in for the couple or their colleagues.
    So yes, irrespective of whether it is the husband or wife who is the boss, there are a lot of issues that can arise which will affect their marriage. In this case, it’s good that the husband is able to identify possible issues, and is thinking about how to address them. This is what I can suggest:
    1. To start with, please sit down and discuss this with your wife. If you aren’t comfortable discussing this with her directly, send it to her as an email, and once she reads and responds to that, you’ll can sit down and discuss face to face how to deal with this.
    2. In my opinion, both working together in the same organization in a boss-subordinate relationship can work only for the short-term; in the long term, it can become difficult. So I would recommend that one of you move out of the current organization – whether that’s you or her will depend on your qualifications, experience, interest in the current firm, and available roles in the market, that for you to decide.
    3. However, it may be difficult to get a good job very soon, so both of you should continue working together while one of you is simultaneously looking for a job elsewhere. During this time, I would recommend your wife accept the promotion, because whether she is continuing in the current firm or looking for other opportunities, it will improve her career prospects. But it will be easier when both of you know that this boss-subordinate relationship is only a short term arrangement, and as long as this lasts, you both need to sit together and put down some ground rules on how to make it work.
    Whatever you decide, I wish you both all the very best!


  46. This is a real sticky situation and no easy way out of. The man in this situation has a genuine concern – about how his relationship could be affected by this new hierarchial barrier placed in the workplace. The issues that could come up:
    1) If he gets favoured for good performance, people will allege nepotism. If he doesn’t, he might end up developing a resentment towards his wife. If allegations of favouritism comes up and becomes a part of her co-workers relational aggression, she might find her career hampered as well.
    2) The illusion that a long term egalitarian relationship can be maintained in such a scenario is naivette to the point of foolishness. As much as people like to look at the ideal, humans are at times, emotional, irrational and not so stable or ethical. The scope of one partner exploiting the other in the workplace to settle personal scores is not beyond the realm of possibility. It is easy to have short term or casual flings in a boss/subordinate relationship, but in a marriage, it has the potential to break it.
    3) The chances of the wife losing respect for her husband is a real one, not an imagined fear cropping out of male ego. Unless the man is some kind of ‘star’ outside his work or has something very strong going for him that his wife appreciates more than the traditional equations in a relationship, she might wonder, at some point of time if she is married to a man who is not very worthy of her – a man who is less ambitious, focused or intelligent.
    Ramya’s advice above is a good one. This is very sticky scenario, one of them has to give up their job or start looking for a new one.


  47. Pingback: What kind of company policy puts a husband-wife couple in a boss-employee relationship? Doesn’t matter which of the two is on top. | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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