How To Spend 20 Hours/Day Together (And Still Love Each Other)

Long long ago, back before Snowe was even a glimmer in their eyes, two busy MBA candidates set their first date for Valentine’s Day, 2012. And that date, between our would-be founders, Rachel Cohen and Andres Modak, ended up being fortuitously on-brand – before there was even a brand to, well, be on. Because years before they started a business all about elevating the stay-at-home experience, they… stayed home. Andres invited Rachel over for proper cocktails and a home-cooked meal, inadvertently establishing what would become a ritual central to their relationship. One that stuck as they hit all the regular couple milestones: breakfast in bed, meeting the parents, moving in together.

And then: realizing there’s a gap in the market for high-quality home essentials without the mark-up. Launching a brand, building a team, turning their home into a showroom and office. Spending 20 hours a day in the same room.

Seven years out, though many things have changed, they’re still champions of the at-home date night. For special occasions, and well, Wednesdays. We took a quick break during business hours to get their best tips on toggling between work and life. The advice is especially good if you, like them, work with your partner. But even if you’re just looking for better ways to disconnect from work-mode before connecting with someone at home, you’ll appreciate their tips.

1. Choose Your Trigger (or Buffer). 

The sound of a laptop closing and “OK, now I’m done!”... not exactly an aphrodisiac. To kick off date night, Andres and Rachel swear by one of two options – the trigger or the buffer. A trigger would be a sensory experience – the scent of a candle, a cocktail or glass of wine, or a new playlist. Something to signal that changing of the guard from work-time to downtime. Other evenings, Rachel schedules a buffer, a solo gym trip or drink with friends to quickly decompress before heading home for date night. “Going to the gym breaks up the day nicely,” she explains. “It helps take my mind off work so I get home and am already in the right headspace.”

2. Pencil It In. Or, Don’t (Aka: Know Thyself). 

Rachel and Andres have two standing date nights a week – a weeknight and weekend of “sacred time,” as they call it, to connect on non-work matters. You’ll see it on Rachel’s calendar, but not Andres’. “If I don’t block it out, it doesn’t happen,” she says. Meanwhile, Andres, who lovingly teases her about “planning every second of every day,” takes a different approach. “I don’t operate that way – when it comes to social or personal time, I prefer to keep it off the calendar to keep it feeling organic,” he explains (and he’s not alone). The major takeaway – figure out which method works for you and your partner and embrace it. Even if you each handle it differently.

3. Resist The Urge (The Urge To Wear Sweats). 

Ah, the siren call of binge-watching Outlander in bed, while eating Seamless. Rachel and Andres do not pretend to be above it (even if Rachel does admit to falling asleep mid-episode). But when it comes to special occasions, or those pre-set date nights, they make a conscious choice to step up every element, even their uniform. “Even if it’s just changing into jeans and a top that’s nicer than my high school soccer tee-shirt – it helps sets those nights apart,” Rachel says.

4. Mind Your Tech.

“Some of the best advice we got when we were starting out was to keep our laptops out of the bedroom,” says Andres. They’ve managed to keep up the habit, and amended it to include keeping their phones in the other room during designated together-time.

5. Play To Each Others’ Strengths.

Works in business, works when it comes to household chores. “Anything that has to do with organizing – putting things away, opening mail, it’s all me. I like that stuff,” says Rachel. Meanwhile, Andres handles all the cooking (happily – he’s most at home with a cocktail in hand and chef’s towel over his shoulder). The rest, they tag-team, or outsource what they can – i.e. sending out laundry – so they can maximize quality time together.

Ultimately, the true mark of success is that after every day of being together near-constantly, Rachel and Andres wake up and do it all, all over again. “The best part of being co-founders with your partner is inherently trusting each other, 100%,” says Andres. Adds Rachel “When things get crazy, when Andres is on a photo shoot for days, or I’m not home until 11pm, we’re able to understand in a way that’s tougher for couples who have separate careers... We have the same goals.”

Seven years from that first date, they’re spending their Valentine’s Day evening at a friend’s home for a double-dinner date. But first, a full day in the office, as usual. And while they do their best to keep work out of their home-time, the opposite is (luckily) not the case. “Andres is thoughtful, selfless, and has absolutely no ego,” says Rachel. “He’ll always put others first, which at work, means he’s forever putting the team’s needs before his own.” Meanwhile, Andres is quick to praise Rachel’s grace under pressure. “No matter how much she takes on, she makes it look easy,” he says. “She is astonishingly steadfast in achieving what she wants, and is easily the most resilient person I know.” Spoken like a true partner, in every sense of the word.

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