Mark and Lisa Spedale first met in an eighth grade computer science class.
“I remember her. She just did not remember me,” Mark says. “I specifically remember her walking into class being so excited about her ‘The Outfield’ cassette tape she had bought — I am dating us for sure.”
Eventually, however, Lisa took notice of Mark. They even went to prom together.
Today, the high school sweethearts have been married 20 years. They have two children and their own business, snack brand Primizie.
The concept that would eventually become Primizie kicked off in 2001 as a catering business. It later morphed into an Italian cafe and wine bar, and then launched as Primizie in 2012.
“I became a chef because I wanted to own my own food business like my grandparents and uncle,” Mark says. “Shortly after our first daughter was born I thought, well it is now or never. Lisa was less than thrilled when I told her I quit my chef job and was starting my own business. We had an eight month old.”
However, things got off to a relatively good start. After a year, Lisa also quit her job to help Mark manage the quickly-expanding catering business.
The Spedales say that the biggest benefit of working with one’s spouse can also be the biggest drawback: You come to truly understand each other’s professional commitments and pressures … sometimes too well.
“There are no complaints about, ‘You are working too much, too late, etc.’ Also, if you get tied up at work you just look across your desk and say, ‘Hey I am not going to be finished so you are going to have to cover the soccer carpool,'” Mark says.
However, the lack of a buffer between work and home can spark other challenges.
“We can’t turn to our spouse and say, ‘Hey, can you take the kids to the pool while I deal with this work issue.’ That is what grandma is for!” Lisa says. “I mean our desks are right across from each other so you go home to get away and then there he is again. There have been many times I have said, ‘If I could fire you I would!’ Luckily our arguments don’t ever last too long.”
All in all, the couple agrees that respect, understanding, and realistic expectations are crucial to any relationship — especially when you’re running a business together.
“If work comes up, which of course it does, if one of us says I don’t want to talk about it right now, the other tries to respect that and ends the conversation,” Mark says. “Our girls keep us in check, too, by saying, ‘No work talk.'”
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