I have many women friends. They have seen me through joys and sorrows. I have lots of male friends, too. Mostly they are friends’ husbands. Some are former colleagues; some are even former students. Their emails show up from time to time with a joke or a commiseration on the Red Sox, that sort of thing.

But I am fortunate to have a work husband. Our marriage began when I was living in London during my husband’s sabbatical. I was trying to finish my dissertation and didn’t know if I wanted to return to my former position. Our paths had crossed at several points while collaborating on some projects.

George called and asked if I wanted to share a job with him. It was a position that involved supporting educational leaders in their schools. The job description called for one full-time and one part-time person. George proposed that we share the job equally. I was thrilled at the prospect – of the work, for sure, but also of the opportunity to work with him.

It was a match made in heaven – I think he would say so, too, without the hyperbole. And that’s the wonderful thing about it. I jump into things, can be overly enthusiastic and assume all will work out. George is pragmatic, grounded, steady. He’s saved us (me?) many times from near chaos with his careful planning, thoughtful suggestions and groundedness. I need his organization, which involves not only having all the materials prepared and neatly arranged but also being able to hand me my purse or briefcase before I even know I am walking away without them.

We have similar backgrounds from largish families and younger siblings. We share an educational philosophy and attitude toward our role as coaches, and we are practically twins, with birthdays only two months apart. We have been through the ups and downs of our children’s and grandchildren’s lives, deaths of parents, other relatives and friends. We’ve had our illnesses, as have our spouses. George has been there every step of the way, mostly to listen but also to say the kind, caring things that you appreciate because they come from someone who truly empathizes.

We have gone through many jobs and workplaces together. We are seen by others as a team. Because he had been a principal and I, a teacher, we offer different perspectives. And since we share the same work, we have lots to talk about, from departmental issues to our colleagues’ or participants’ crises. In collegial meetings, I know that George is hearing and reacting to conversations and presentations much as I do. I know that he will add a thoughtful suggestion, whereas I will offer an ironic remark or vice versa. A quick glance, wry smile are enough to solidify our connection and show appreciation.

Gender is a factor in the dynamic, both professionally and personally. But because he is such a good “real” husband, he isn’t scared of feelings. Our shared sense of humor and ability to laugh at ourselves make it easy to simply be together. We belong to a mutual admiration society. Isn’t that what makes a perfect marriage?

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