How we make it work
For 16 years, I have worked with the man I love. Like most office romances, ours began as a friendship built on shared interests and mutual admiration. Now with two crazy kids, three French Bulldogs, and a thriving business, we are still passionate about the work we do and about each other. As any working couple knows, this is not a small fete, and it takes a lot of learning and growing to make this balance of personal and professional life work. So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, here are a few things we have learned along the way.
Mutual respect and admiration
I am fortunate to be married to one of the most talented designers I will ever know. He is the one who brings our concepts to life, and I have always been amazed at what he can do. Every day, I see him take an objective, a copy doc., and a tight deadline and turn a blank canvas into a beautifully executed marketing success. It is easy to praise the work he does, and I try to do that as much as I can. When you work closely with a partner, you may assume they know how you feel, but it is better to tell them. Who doesn’t love a compliment?
Balance is tough but essential
Client demands and deadlines can be stressful, and as much as I try to separate our business from our personal lives, it’s not so easy to switch gears. I am now more aware of it and better understand the negatives of shared attention, so when it is time to focus on us, that is what we do. Quick weekend getaways are great, but we also have a date night every Saturday where we stay in, break open a bottle of Champagne and watch an old black and white movie. We schedule everything these days, and regularly planning time together is key to keeping an intimate connection with your partner.
Communication not tools
Although I do often write my thoughts and rants down, I do not always share them. Yes, I have sent the occasional email when the situation is weighing too much on me, and it seems walking up to his desk would be an unproductive approach. But once the emotions have started to ebb a bit and my thoughts are clear, I will ask to talk face to face with multiple objectives in mind: 1. I want to tell him how I feel, 2. I want to resolve this and 3. I have to check my ego (which took a bit of aged wisdom), be ready to listen, and be willing to accept my role of how I may have contributed to the situation. Communication is critical. As smart as you think you are, you do not always know how your significant other is feeling. If they care about you enough, odds are they had good reason to do what they did, and it was not to hurt you. Remember, devices cannot reconnect you with your significant other the way an intimate and honest one-on-one talk can.
Remember to take a pause
In the heat of the moment, taking a breather is not the easiest thing to do, but it can make a difference in the outcome. Even more important is taking a pause when work gets crazy. Our work ethics and instincts tell us to dive in and get it done, but taking a walk together outside can lighten the mood and offer a better mindset. I asked Steve for his thoughts, and one of the things he recommended was taking “a business lunch.” And although we don’t do it often, I have experienced how strategizing over sushi can feed the mind too.
“Make things fun. Have a friendly competition like who can write a better headline, and the loser buys lunch.”
– Stephen Frederick
Sharing every up and down
Being in the trenches together has its pros and cons. On the plus side, you both know first hand the busy but great day you’ve had. But the minus comes when your significant other has had the same hellish week you had. You can’t always look to them for the relief and comfort you want, especially when they are looking to you for the same. This is a tough one because, at the end of those days, I might want a hug and a glass of wine lovingly poured as I decompress while he seeks out the solace of his man cave and guitars. As simple as it sounds, it was not easy to come to that conclusion when you’re living it. The tendency is to feel slighted. But I found other ways, like a walk in the woods with my son and daughter, is good for my family and me. It’s okay to recoup separately and ultimately brings you back together.
Yes, working with the person you love can be incredibly rewarding, especially when you are both committed to the same goals. And although the fact that two members of the Bloom Team are married is not part of our pitch, the dedication to our craft and to each other may be one of the most significant benefits to our clients.