How do busy ‘power couples’ make time for their relationships? Between managing hectic work schedules, family life and social obligations, it can be a challenge to prioritize intimacy, romance and sex.
Oasis Aqualounge Marketing Director Fatima Mechtab recently interviewed keynote speaker, best-selling author, relationship coach and sexologist Dr. Jess O’Reilly and her husband Brandon Ware; the founding partner in a Real Estate company. Dr. Jess and Brandon share personal insights into on how they maintain a balance between their professional and personal lives and how they keep the passion alive, in their marriage.
Q: How did you meet and how long have you been together?
Jess: We met in a downtown Toronto nightclub. I was bar tending and Brandon was bar-backing. We hooked up one night (I made the first, second and third move) and we moved in together, a few days later. We were so young. That was over 18 years ago and time has flown by!
Brandon: We’ve been living together for 18.5 years and met while working at Hotel Nightclub, downtown Toronto. We met one fateful night and thankfully for me, Jess took the initiative and approached me. I couldn’t be happier that she did because I don’t think I would have ever mustered up enough courage to ask her out .
Q: Describe your career, as individuals. What is a typical day for you, like?
Jess: I spend most of my days speaking and doing interviews. No day is typical. Last week, I filmed a few episode for TSC – a hike shopping television channel that just launched a late night show selling adult items. Right now I’m flying home from a corporate event in Chicago where I spoke about how entrepreneurs can support their staff to have happier personal relationships (which leads to greater workplace productivity). Tomorrow, I’m shooting a segment on workplace relationships with Global TV and touring the PinkCherry.ca offices and sex toy warehouse, and the next day, I’ll head to Atlanta to facilitate a business coaching workshop for therapists and educators. Brandon will join me to co-host the podcast in Atlanta (at an incredible conference called Sex Down South) and well interview experts on a broad range of topics: relationships after trauma, how to use vulnerability to improve relationships, orgasm as a healing modality, erotic breath work and BDSM for POC. After that, I’ll come back to Toronto to speak at a big party for Moms and then head to India for a few corporate speeches. In between speaking engagements, I do a lot of writing for press and (for my) blog. I just finished writing a book with Marla Renee Stewart; The Ultimate Guide to Seduction and Foreplay.
Brandon: I own a real estate company. A typical day starts around 6:30am and includes work from home and client meetings. I’ll find myself bouncing around the downtown core and getting pulled into calls and negotiations that weren’t planned. It’s dynamic and fun and depending on the day, can run into the late evening.
Q: As a couple, what are some ways you both maintain intimacy, passion and fun in your relationship?
Jess: Life is fun! My work affords us the privilege of traveling often. Because we’re always visiting new cities and counties, novelty is the norm. In terms of physical intimacy and sex, I think we would benefit from making more time for it. We’re great at fitting and sneaking it in even when we’re busy, but I think we’d both enjoy some more down time to be alone. I find it challenging to balance work and pleasure because my business is pleasure; when I’m having fun with work, I sometimes forget that I need to plan for fun that doesn’t involve work too. I’m trying to get better at scheduling time off.
Brandon: There is no shortage of fun in our relationship. Although Jess’ schedule is hectic and her travel can be overwhelming, I make an effort to accompany her when possible to work from abroad but to explore new cities. It creates excitement and injects adventure but also creates intimacy as we both recognize the desire for intimacy when we’ve spent time apart.
Q: What do you feel are the biggest challenges in maintaining a relationship/marriage and how to do work through that?
Jess: I think relationships fail because expectations aren’t met. But oftentimes, we don’t communicate our expectations so our partners don’t really understand what we need and (certain) expectations can be unrealistic. We can’t expect our partners to fulfill our every need – emotionally, sexually, practically and socially. I often have to ask myself if my expectations are fair and realistic. Brandon wants to give me everything. He wants to meet my every need and so, I have to be mindful not to ask too much and make sure that I seek support and fulfillment form other parts of my life; other people, relationships, interests, and interactions. I think we’re pretty good at giving each other space and communicating our needs and boundaries. But we still slip up at times, so we are always talking about our own relationship and how our feelings and needs change over time.
Brandon: With regard to our personal relationship, I feel the biggest challenges are privacy and ‘technoference.’ Jess’ father lives in our house so the need for privacy (at times) can be difficult. I don’t believe we’ve completely worked through all the kinks but we’ve created space in our house that is specifically for us. We also try and plan getaways or trips where I accompany Jess and add an extra day to spend some alone time together. I also struggle with ‘techonoference’ and have had to work diligently to disconnect from tech. It’s easy to say “I have to check my phone because…” but the reality with my work is that I’m not saving babies. Once I realized that my work is important but not as important as I think it is, I was able to affect change in my behavior. I’ve implemented time restrictions on devices that I try to adhere to and I have learned to be as efficient as possible when working. It has created more personal time and time for our relationship.
Q: Tell us about a particularly memorable romantic evening/trip/date night. What stands out most in your mind and why?
few years ago, Brandon surprised me by showing up in the audience in the middle
of a speech in Halifax:
I’m standing on stage in Halifax with bright lights in my eyes and a crowd of 200 in front of me. I’m sleep deprived and almost delirious because I took a connecting red-eye from Las Vegas and went straight to work giving speeches when I landed…(So while onstage) that night … I see a handsome guy in (a) brown sweater walk into the audience and sit down. “That looks like Brandon,” I think to myself, as I keep going with my speech trying not to miss a beat. “But that can’t be Brandon. He’s in Toronto. I saw him this morning.” I’m still talking and thinking and gesticulating with the bright lights beaming in my eyes. ” Am I losing my mind? I need to sleep…” I think, as I keep talking about the legs of the clitoris and joking that it’s not a doorbell.
Then he smiles at me and I realize that it is Brandon. He hopped the next flight to surprise me and spend the weekend helping me at the Halifax event. He even brought my dog along to keep us company and give us one more comfort of home. Even if I’m busy working, it just feels good to know Brandon is in the room.
Brandon: 2010 – Rome, Italy. (We are) sitting on a patio in a 1500 year old piazza having a drink; watching people pass us by, interacting with each other and living (our) daily life. (I’m not sure if it was a moment of existential reflection or perhaps it was a moment where I was relaxed, calm, peaceful while hanging with Jess. It is a memory that always stands out.
Q: What advice to do have for busy, ‘ power couples’ who are struggling to make time for one another?
Jess: If we’re a so-called “power couple”, it’s only because we have the privilege to be. And so, I think gratitude and giving back are the most important parts of life for us. I can’t speak for others and I know that what works for us may not work for others. But every day, I wake up and take a moment to remember what’s important to me. I’m thankful every damn day and I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else’s. I know I may not always feel this way, as some things are out of my control. And so I don’t want to take anything for granted — especially Brandon. I know he feels the same way about me and so we always make time for one another.
A while back, Brandon read something about the days of your life being represented by jellybeans in a jar. If you live to be 100, you begin with approximately 36,525 jellybeans and each day one is removed (you get to eat it). So I often think about the jellybean that represents today and how I want to enjoy it. I only have so many jellybeans and I want to savor every last one. I can’t afford to waste a single bean (even if it’s one of those nonsensical buttered popcorn flavored ones).
I hope we live to be 106 & 108 years old (he’s two years older than me), but I also know that there are no guarantees, so I always think about the jellybeans.
1. Decide that you want to change, create a plan and put in some effort.
2. Stop making excuses. I’ve learned that simply ‘saying’ I’m going to do something without a plan is ineffective.
Carefully thinking through how I’m going to do something, making a plan and actually investing effort will pay dividends. Even if your plan doesn’t work out exactly as you’ve wanted it to, you’ve tried, learned, can modify and try again. Your willingness to make a positive change won’t go unnoticed by your partner
To learn more about Dr. Jess O’Reilly, please visit her website and Happier Couples online courses for couples. She can also be found on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
If you are a couple who would like to share relationship tips with our readers, we would love to feature you in our newsletter. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org, attention Fatima Mechtab.