Lights, Camera, ‘TOO MUCH’ Action: The Office “Spouse”

By Lisa Barr

Given I’m an Awards Show Junkie, this is the time of year when I’m getting My Fix, particularly Golden Globes and the Oscars. I live for Red Carpet. I took it personally that Golden Globes winner (for “Best Director”) Ben Affleck was not nominated for “Best Director” by Le Academy, yet his picture was nominated. I mean, should a painting be celebrated yet the artist snubbed?

Let’s just say I really dig Ben Affleck. I think he’s brilliant, love his wife, love seeing pics of him hanging with his kids. He seems like a good guy trying to balance success and family.

For the record I have had a subscription to PEOPLE since I was 8 years old. So I consider myself somewhat of a pseudo-expert on Hollywood Affairs. Here’s where I’m going with this. A few weeks ago I cut out an article from my local newspaper, which announced Ben Affleck and Kristen Stewart would be doing a “steamy” film together called Focus. I waved the article accusingly in my husband’s face:

“Oh no! Look at this,” I said. “I’m so upset. Mark my words, this ‘pairing’ will cause trouble in the Affleck/Garner marriage.”

My husband rolled his eyes. So I continued to explain myself while he half-listened. I get that they’re actors, and it’s “work” but clearly Stewart, who is young and free-spirited, had no problem having an affair with a married director (and falling for her leading man) — and they in turn, for her. If I were Jen Garner — this role in particular would be a no-go for me. Why put that temptation in your marriage? Especially because every article I read about the movie keeps mentioning the word “Steamy.”

And then … I saw THIS the other day: “Ben Affleck dropped out of the upcoming flick Focus.” Affleck told the world that he indeed “loves” working with Stewart but it was a “scheduling” issue which drew him away from the film.

Yeah right.

If I had to put money on it, Jennifer Garner put her foot down here, as she should. The word “steamy” probably got to her as well.

I always wonder how do Hollywood Spouses deal with those intense on-screen relationships — particularly graphic sex scenes with the Leading Actor or Actress. I know, I could never do it.

And even my self-proclaimed non-jealous husband says there would be no way in hell he could handle me filming, hmm, let’s just say a graphic sex scene, with Daniel Craig.

It’s just a job. But is it?

So how do we Ordinary Types deal with those very “close” work relationships with our own spouses? I know it sounds sexist and I’ll probably hear about it, but my husband is not allowed to hire the Hot Secretary — that is on my NO WAY Mandate List. I’m not the kind of woman who could handle that. It would hurt us. As innocent as it could be, and as trustworthy as my husband is, it would not be good for us on any level. Period (no question mark).

However, the concept of  “Office Spouse”  goes beyond the so-called Hot Secretary stereotype. I remember working at a newspaper years ago, and two journalists, both married with kids, would spend every part of the work day together — talking, sharing, writing, taking their lunches together. I would always hear them laughing from their adjacent cubbies, sharing inside jokes, and even during editorial “brainstorming” sessions finishing each other’s sentences. I was young and single then, but I remember thinking, if I were married to that guy, and knew about this “intimate/platonic” relationship — it would not be cool.

Sometimes there is a “Colleague Closeness” that feels just as icky as a sexual relationship. Clearly, in this case, the two journalists had a deep connection — it was my first glimpse of an Office Marriage.

I consider myself very open-minded, but in this area — I’m, admittedly, just not free ‘n’ easy. The subjects of adultery and trust are very sensitive issues for me personally. So another woman may not go to those “places” where I go … but I truly believe that any good marriage would be affected by an Office Spouse, or a “Sex Scene” that was “just a job” and simply part of the “The Biz.”

That said, I know women who really don’t care who their husband talks to, has lunch with, or works out with — as long as he is a good provider, husband and father. For them, this comes under the “umbrella” of trust — which is totally great, if that dynamic works for that couple.

That’s not me.

Having had the ‘benefit’ of seeing how one marriage failed, and how another really works, I have learned that protecting the marriage, creating necessary boundaries, and establishing what is and is not acceptable in a workplace — is important to our ‘glue.’

I’m not the type to keep “it” inside and harbor resentment — what I see and feel, is always Out There, on the table. He knows it, I know it.

Anything I put out or demand, is never a one-way street — I give the same respect to my husband. The fact is, there are too many “Kristen Stewart” types out there. And please note, I don’t profess to know her in any way, and it took two to tangle (the married director was just as guilty — and ended up losing his marriage for a few rapturous nights with Kristin). But there are those women who have no care for the fact that your husband is married, and have no issue with “harmless” office flirting, whether it is in real-time or sending cutesy texts.  You may be the kind of woman who accepts this as part of life and considers it meaningless, or the other kind, who finds it unacceptable and threatening.

Again, every marriage, and everyone’s triggers are different — but if you are not happy with an office colleague’s behavior toward your spouse, or you believe your husband is too co-dependent on a particular employee — don’t be afraid to stand up, and say what you need, what is right for you and your marriage.

Keeping it inside will only serve to hurt you both. Anger, resentment, and the Silent Treatment don’t go away. They morph into sarcasm, “holding back” in the bedroom, paranoia, insecurity, and accusations.

That’s the one thing I’ve learned in the wide world of Divorce, Marriage, Remarriage — there is no Playbook — except your own. Your past experiences affect your present ones — no matter how much therapy you’ve had.

My gut (not fact, just instinct) is that Ben Affleck did not have “scheduling issues” but rather a wife (an actress — a leading lady in her own right — who understands the true nature of The Biz and the fragility of celebrity marriages) who was determined to protect her marriage and family by setting a necessary boundary: Argo — Yes. Kristin Stewart — No friggin’ way.








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