Career or love? It’s the one tough question most people try to answer when facing a crossroad in life. Some choose the former for the sake of financial independence and professional growth. Others go for the latter, letting their hearts win. For the founders of top design firm Model Space Studio, however, they decided to get the best of both worlds from the get-go.
Love in the Time of Career Success
Both passionate about work, architects Norvim and Aimee Mallari started their own interior design agency in 2012. Over time, the venture grew and they saw clients from different walks of life coming to them: young families, expats, even medical services providers. Ever since, work has been a central part of their lives. Yet all throughout their successful careers, they deeply understand that they’re not just partners in business; they are partners in love and life as well. That’s why even in the midst of busy schedules and client demands, they have prioritized their marriage.
“We’ve been working with our design studio 24/7, and we realized that no project nor work should be prioritized over family time. We see to it that we have weekends off — holidays
too. We eat our meals together and catch up with each other before we sleep,” Aimee shared.
Norvim added, “As much as possible, I finish my tasks only during work hours so I can spend time with my loved ones during the evenings. If I have a super hectic schedule, I set a date where we can go on vacation or have a staycation at home. I make sure that we always have quality time whenever we are together.”
Just like any other couple, Aimee and Norvim encounter challenges that test the strength of their bond. Mostly, it’s the work they do that makes spending time with each other difficult.
Norvim candidly shared, “In our line of work, the load or demand for the tasks we need to accomplish is unpredictable. Sometimes it takes us an entire hectic month just to finish a certain project […] even in our rest days or rest hours, we sometimes still talk about work and it does change our mood from ‘rest mode’ to ‘work mode.’”
“In over nine years together — one year married — work has tested our relationship most of the time. Working together at our design studio was challenging because we are of the same level of management position,” Aimee added.
Nonetheless, they found ways to cope with business demands. Most importantly, the couple learned to be aware of how work overlaps into home life. When thoughts of deliverables suddenly pop up during breaks, Norvim said, “We step back a little and we agree on what to do about [work] the next day. By doing so, we were able to rest and regain our morale before we start to work again.”
Aimee summed it up, “We [create] boundaries of work and decision-making. Respect [for] each other is our solution.”
Norvim was also quick to acknowledge the fact that despite the hectic schedules and client demands, he is fortunate to have a wife who understands the nature of the work.
The Heart of the Home
Within almost a decade of relationship, the architect couple learned many lessons on love beyond the context of staying together for the business. For one, they have weathered conflicts through and through.
Aimee said, “Putting love and respect first in the relationship has kept everything at home very light and happy. There hasn’t been any big problem that we weren’t able to solve because we have good teamwork and the same ideas and goals we want to achieve.”
“No amount of problems we encounter is unsolvable. This made our home a ‘happy home’,” Norvim added.
That happy home the couple mentioned is built with lots of memories, from cooking food and preparing meals to spending laid-back Christmases and New Years, even washing the dishes — all in the company of each other.
“We get to eat fancy food at home and we get to do it together. What more can I ask for?”
The duo also never fails to appreciate the strengths and positive traits of one another. “My husband is very understanding, reasonable, and loving. He always thinks with reason and purpose. He’s neutral with problems and sees them unbiasedly before solving them. So everything is settled in a holistic approach,” Aimee stated.
For Norvim, Aimee’s simplicity and encouraging self is what he admires. “What I love about my wife […] is that, she is simple and enjoys the simple things. She is very content with what we have. She is also very supportive of my decisions.”
Love Advice for Couples
Norvim and Aimee will soon be welcoming an addition to their small family. Entering a new season in their relationship, they’re leaving starting families with pieces of advice, which they themselves learned in the process.
“The husband and wife should have a fortified relationship. Having a great foundation is a good way to start any venture, especially your own family. Always remember that it’s about both of you and the kids are the reward of making this relationship work,” Aimee advised.
Norvim, on the other hand, shared how to juggle career and love: “You need to be able to do the work-life balance. When we were starting our business, my wife and I did not think that we needed rest. We worked even on weekends and we both experienced burnout because of it. It is in the latter part of our careers that we realized we needed to plan our schedule carefully, so that we could still be able to insert rest days in our schedule to avoid burnout from overworking.”
With work-love balance, the architect couple found it easier to achieve career success and intimacy in the relationship. In between client meetings and long-haul projects, they’re able to fall in love with one another all over again, each time with renewed commitment.