Expert Author Susan Leigh
There are times when a wife has to support her husband at work-related social events. They may be formal events, lavish gala dinners, or smaller, more intimate affairs. Either way, they can be quite stressful times for a wife or partner, who may not know many of the people or be unaware of the subtleties and complexities of company politics. She may feel out of her depth, especially if her husband is very sociable or quite senior in the company.
Work events are often uncomfortable for partners. Their experience often encompasses a room full of strangers, all talking about things that they don't know, understand or even particularly care about. Smiling and being pleasant may be fine for an hour or two at a retirement or Christmas party, but something more formal or involving a weekend away at a company retreat can feel a long time to be on one's best behaviour.
If you find yourself in this situation here are some thoughts on the subject:
- Explain to your husband how you feel. Stay calm and tell him that you need him to be supportive, at least at first, until you feel more confident and have got to know a few people. Insist that he respects your concerns, introduces you to some friendly people and keeps an eye on you, checking that you are okay from time to time. Ensure that if you need him to come and rescue you he will be willing to oblige. Perhaps agree an emergency signal or code in advance.
- Help yourself a little by doing some preparation in advance. If appropriate, arrange to meet your husband for lunch and call at the office first, so that you can say hello and meet some of his colleagues. Watch interesting documentaries, keep up to date with the news, read gossip magazines so that you are knowledgeable on several areas of topical interest. Many people want to relax and have a pleasant time at these events. Yes, some networking and cozying up to the boss will go on, but most people are also looking forward to relaxing and having a pleasant time.
- Be yourself and smile. Remind yourself of the many qualities that your family, friends and husband value about you. This situation requires you to leave your familiar comfort zone. Treat the event as a fun opportunity but also as almost a work commitment. You're here to support your husband in his work-related role. So it's important to take it steady with the alcohol, be discrete in your conversations and then relax and avail yourself of the amenities.
- Use it as a time to see another side to your husband. You rarely have the chance to see him away from home or with people other than friends and family. It can be interesting to see him in a different light, interacting with colleagues and noticing how they respond to him. It's an opportunity to learn something about this major area of his life, the stresses he is under, the responsibilities he shoulders. And it's also interesting to be able to put a face to some of the names he talks about at home, to establish some sort of relationship with the people he mixes with everyday.
You may not be a high-flying executive or have the same skill sets that he has but you have many valuable attributes and accomplishments of your own. Enjoy your opportunity to mix and meet with other people, to practise your people skills and then to relax and enjoy a lovely time together.


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