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Living, loving and working together

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When the honeymoon is over and true love turns to to-do lists and utilities bills, it can be hard to stay enchanted. For couples who live and work together, it can be all the more challenging.

How do you carve out time to be romantic? How do you leave work behind when you're in bed with your business partner?

Lifestyle speaks to three companions in business and in life to learn how they do it

Selange Gitschner and Matthew Strong own events and production company Dasfete.

It means they're often working from dawn to beyond dusk, setting the stage for weddings, corporate events, parties and fundraisers.

“I've been with Matthew for 11 years so we know each other really well,” Ms Gitschner said.

“He's my best friend and the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. I trust his opinion. I can be really stubborn, especially in the design department, but there's nobody else in the world I would want to be a partner with in life but also within our business.”

The pair married in September and have only just found the time to take their honeymoon in Patagonia.

“The thing that suffers is probably the relationship,” Mr Strong said.

“This is a new company and we're quite driven to do well, so my advice to couples would be to take that time.

“We've been lucky that work comes in very busy periods and then it's quiet. We make the most of that quiet time to reconnect and we become best friends again.”

Ms Gitschner says her husband helps quell her perfectionist tendencies; he said she reminds him to take care of himself.

“It's been very helpful to get a different perspective on not just the work side but the living side,” he said.

Above all, Ms Gitschner said they have a lot of fun together.

“We're going into our third year and taking a month off. We realised it's so important to make time to chat and laugh and be goofy with each other. We switch off by making a meal together or taking [our dog] Finn for a walk on the beach.

“We've got each other's backs and together we're working towards the same goal.”

Mr Strong added: “When it's really busy we focus on work and when we're not busy we focus on each other.

“Even if we have an argument or some differences, we know that we're going to work through it. You need to know that it's a strong relationship to begin with.”

Mark and Ally Tatem are the photography duo that make up Two & Quarter.

They believe it's crucial to a good relationship to always keep the other person in mind.

“It's the little gestures that we do for one another — picking up a favourite chocolate bar when we're grabbing a snack for ourself, making the other a coffee even if they haven't asked, or prepping their camera bag,” they said.

“For us, it's less about the grand romantic gestures and more about being in tune with one another's needs.”

Their biggest challenge has been creating a work/life balance.

“When we're on a date, or taking vacation, or even just at home with the latest Netflix binge, we do our best to keep work tasks at work by not obsessing over e-mails. We've learnt to be better at turning off when we're enjoying personal time together.”

Having welcomed a son in December, today will be a little different than other Valentine's Day celebrations. The St George's couple will sneak in “an early dinner at Wahoo's and be back home for bath and bedtime”.

Their best advice is “communication, communication, communication”.

“And making sure you actually like spending time with your partner,” Mrs Tatem said.

“We're lucky in that we're crazy in love with each other, but we also genuinely like the other person and spending time together.

“Taking time for yourselves separate from your work and partnership is crucial as well. We've learnt that supporting the personal needs of each other, separate from both work and our marriage, is super-important when you spend all day, every day, together.

“I do Pilates and ballet classes for my ‘me time', and Mark fishes and tinkers with his Seagull motors.”

David and Avrel Rose Zuill opened Davidrose Studio nine years ago.

A strong friendship is at the heart of their relationship. It also helps that they contribute different things to their jewellery business.

“There's not a lot of overlap, apart from design, when we come together and create something nice together,” Mrs Zuill said.

“Also, lunch is crucial to us. We make sure that we take time out on a daily basis.

“With a young kid, it's hard to be super-romantic when you get home. We try to do a date night once a week. Sometimes it turns into a work meeting, but we try really hard to make sure we get out of the house and leave the kid at home.”

The pair also make an effort to switch off their phones and give each other “the attention they deserve and need”.

They have vowed to squeeze in a dinner date tonight even though it's a busy time for them.

“'Tis the season,” Mrs Zuill laughed. “Everybody wants to get engaged yesterday.

“Between Valentine's Day and wedding season coming up, it's ridiculous, but it's great — we love crazy.”

Their advice to other couples is “pick your battles”.

They avoid big arguments by airing problems as soon as they arise.

“Big fights usually come when couples don't talk things out or they are frustrated for a long time,” the 34-year-old said. “Because we're always together, we get it out of the way.”

Mrs Zuill said she's enjoyed watching her husband develop alongside the business.

“As the business has grown, he's grown into being an owner of a major company. When we met each other, we were just two kids coming out of university.

“Seeing him grow into the man he's become is pretty awesome.”

Organising events: Matthew Strong and Selange Gitschner, owners of Dasfete (Photograph by Meredith Andrews)
Taking pictures: Ally and Mark Tatem with their son, Arlo, own Two & Quarter Photography Ltd
Looking pretty: David and Avrel Rose Zuill, owners of jewellery store Davidrose Studio
Taking pictures: Ally and Mark Tatem own Two & Quarter Photography Ltd
On their travels: Matthew Strong and Selange Gitschner at Upsala Glacier, a large valley glacier on the eastern side of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field (Photograph supplied)

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Published February 14, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated February 14, 2018 at 7:47 am)

Living, loving and working together

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