Date of Award

Summer 8-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies



Committee Chair

Steven J. Venette

Committee Chair Department

Communication Studies

Committee Member 2

John C. Meyer

Committee Member 2 Department

Communication Studies

Committee Member 3

Wendy Atkins-Sayre

Committee Member 3 Department

Communication Studies

Committee Member 4

Eura Jung

Committee Member 4 Department

Communication Studies

Committee Member 5

Charles H. Tardy

Committee Member 5 Department

Communication Studies


In the present study, participants described their relationship with their perceived work spouse. After completing a pre-qualifying survey to substantiate the assumed relationship, qualitative in-depth interviews were conducted. The thirty individuals answered questions relating to how they identify a work spouse relationship, the effects this relationship has on both inside and outside additional relationships and the reasons the relationship developed. After analyzing and transcribing the data, the qualitative software program Nvivo was utilized to discover themes and subthemes.

Work spouses were found to be an additional type of intimate relationship, which is both unique and yet relatable to other types of intimate relationships. In relation to characteristics and dimensions of work spouses, spending time with one’s work spouse was the main theme, followed by an emphasis placed on the importance of the relationship, comparisons of other intimate relationships, positives of work spouses and negatives of work spouses. Moreover, work spouse relationships were discovered to both positively and negatively influence other relationships both at work and at home. In terms of the impetus for the relationship, difficulties at work were the most frequent occurrence. Similarities with work styles and also common interests outside of the workplace were an additional factor of why these relationships develop. Lastly, future research suggestions were provided both in organizational and interpersonal communication.

Included in

Communication Commons