Annemarie’s reluctance to be at USFSB took a long time to dissipate and there were times that I felt she was acting out and expressing her desire to be somewhere, anywhere, else.  There were times when she would be late to work for no apparent reason or would take days off for what I believed were frivolous excuses.   I would get frustrated and eventually confront her at which time she would become indignant and defensive.   It was a no win situation for both of us.   Only once did she openly express her feelings that she did not like being at USFSB or the way I was treating her.

Usually, our frustration was not so dramatic and was more about the fact that the business was taking over our entire lives.   There was no escape!

When I practiced law, I tried very hard to keep my business/professional life separate from my home life.  I did not want it to intrude on my family and my quality time with my children.

USFSB was an entirely different story.   First, there was the on-going debate (debate is a much better word than argument) of whether or not Annemarie could and would join me at USFSB.   Then there was the debate of whether or not Annemarie could or would stay with me at USFSB.  Then, finally, the debate of whether or not Annemarie could or would ever enjoy being with me at USFSB.

We also had to deal with the practical problems of spending so much time together and then trying to create a clear separation between our workday and our family life.   This was further complicated by the fact that it was very easy to find ourselves bringing the office home with us and discussing work during family time.  The lines that separated these aspects of our lives became blurred.   Not only were we together all the time, we seemed to be able to interject USFSB into almost any topic of conversation and any activity.   The worst part of that is the impact it had on our children, particularly, our daughter who was only eight years old when USFSB became part of our family.

Annemarie and I have always made time for each other and our children; however, we were learning that there can be too much of a good thing.   Annemarie and I were, essentially, together every day all day which, of course, is way too much togetherness for any sane person to handle.   Annemarie and I found that spending so much time together was placing a fair amount of stress on our marriage.  Even though we are a relatively compatible couple (after 31 years we better be) we still needed some time to ourselves to be able to pursue our own interests.  We have developed some separate activities, particularly, as our children got older and needed us less; however, it still is very hard to do when you are both working and living together.

I remember one time when we were traveling in the car with our daughter, she asked us not to talk about the office for a while and we agreed.   As hard as we tried, we fell right into a discussion about something at the office, within minutes, much to the consternation of our daughter.  It seemed that USFSB was with us where ever we went whether we liked it or not.

There is also the problem of bringing family and personal issues to the office.  Like any couple, there have been times when Annemarie and I would have personal disagreements at home (how anyone could disagree with me I will never understand) and they would spill over into the office.   As you might imagine, we found it very difficult to separate our personal relationship with our business relationship.   This, I am sure, caused some discomfort for our employees and we tried to make sure it did not happen very often.

Despite all of the difficulties we have encountered, the benefits we have enjoyed by working with and relying on someone whom you can trust without question and who you know shares the same aspirations and goals has far outweighed any of the problems.

Come back on Friday to hear Annemarie’s side of the story!