Pillow talk

Three couples share how they navigate work lives and love lives

Kelly and Pipo Carrasca

Kelly and Pipo Carrasca

Photo courtesy of Kelly Carrasca

From venting about bad days to attending a partner’s holiday parties, it can be tough to leave work at the front door. No couple is immune to work bleeding into personal time. And for some couples, working side by side is unavoidable.

But what kind of pillow talk springs from spreadsheets and memos? Three busy couples share how they make work-life—and love—balance work.

Working shoulder to shoulder

For Pipo and Kelly Carrasca of Hella-Halo, a pop-up food business serving the popular Filipino crushed-ice dessert halo-halo, working shoulder to shoulder each weekend is the name of the game.

The Carrascas have been in business for just more than a year, balancing married life, day jobs and three kids on top of their rapidly-expanding business.

Hella-Halo “has always been a plan of mine,” Pipo said. “Being laid off from my construction job further cemented the idea of finally owning my own business and making my own way for my family and I—and to do something that was ours together.”

Rachel and Michael Minnick

Photo courtesy of Michael Minnick

“We are best friends, so we just enjoy doing what we love with the person we love most,” Kelly said. “We look forward to working together because it’s almost like our date night away from the kids, even though we’re working.”

“When you’re doing something you love for a living, it doesn’t feel like work,” she said. “Especially when we’re together.”

Agreeing to disagree

For Rachel and Michael Minnick, their careers in early childhood education began early in their 28-year relationship.

Today, the Minnicks have a family of their own as they continue their work in education advocacy: Rachel as the Sacramento executive director of Reading Partners, a nonprofit providing tutors in underserved schools, and Michael as a college early childhood education instructor and a trustee of the Sacramento City Unified School District.

The couple cite their previous nonprofit ties as a buffer to perceptions of conflicts of interests.

“[Because] I teach early childhood education, my teaching, me being on the school board, Rachel’s got Reading Partners, our kids … it all kind of overlaps,” said Michael. “So there’s always an extra few steps we have to take so this doesn’t feel weird to the outside world.”

Charles Lawlor and Patrick Harbison

Photo courtesy of Patrick Harbison

Even with those extra steps, it’s not a given that the Minnicks will agree.

“We share a lot of similar views on a lot of things, but we’re not 100% agreement, ever,” Rachel said. “I think we respect each other. That’s the biggest part. I know where he’s coming from. And there are times where I don’t agree but I understand the rationale … and I think vice-versa.”

Making time to be together

What about couples who don’t have such a smooth professional overlap?

Patrick Harbison of Patrick Harbison Public Relations and Charles Lawlor, director of government affairs for the Consulate General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest, are engaged after four years together.

“I was smitten from the start,” Harbison says.

Between high-pressure jobs and heavy philanthropic involvement for both, making time to be together takes a conscious effort. Lawlor’s work travel adds another wrinkle to communication.

“[When] I traveled to China for 20 days, … for security reasons I had no internet access or phone,” he said. Outside of those rare scenarios, “we always found a way to keep in touch daily no matter what either of us was doing.”

Says Harbison: “I often look for opportunities to blend the two. [If] a restaurant client is having an opening event, that’s the perfect opportunity to invite Charlie. … Outside of that, I think we’ve both learned that it’s okay to say ’no’ to certain things in an effort to prioritize alone time.”

No matter how involved couples are in each others’ professional lives, one thing is clear: communication is key, and prioritizing your partner is a must. And don’t let work get in the way of your pillow talk.