Work & Marriage: Five couples combine love and careers — and like it!

Traci and Matt Woodall combine art and wine

at Vino Van Gogh in downtown Delray Beach.

Photos by Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

Tom and Erin Craig have found the perfect prescription

for working together at Gulfstream Pharmacy in Briny Breezes.

Howard and Diane Hoffman of Boca Raton own and operate The Boca Raton Beach House restaurant together.

Diana Mummaw is a designer and her husband, Doug, is an architect

at their Boca Raton firm, Mummaw & Associates.

INSET BELOW: Melissa (left) and Alan Jacobson

Story by Mary Thurwachter

    Fueling the flames of romance isn’t always easy, especially when you work with your mate each day. Here are five couples who have found a way to make it happen.

Matt and Traci Woodall

    How they met: Matt, 45, and Traci Woodall, 41, met when he spotted her in a mall in Tallahassee while at Florida State University in 1990. “After going away to the Army, I returned for a football weekend with some buddies in 1994 to hang out with Traci and her friends,” Matt said. “Little did we know that this would be the beginning of a long life together. She finally caved and accepted my marriage proposal and we got married in 2000.”  

    Working together: They never worked together until they opened Vino Van Gogh, a wine and art studio in Delray Beach where customers can take their inspiration from a famous painting or work side-by-side with resident artists on their own masterpiece. “We weren’t sure how it would be to work so closely and of course spending so much time together,” Matt said. “It has worked out well because we split our responsibilities so we don’t step on each other’s toes. The downside of working together is that we don’t get much time together outside of the business. Since we are so new, we spend all of our time at the studio. Thankfully, we can both be at the studio together so we aren’t away from each other for long periods.” 

    Keeping romance alive: “We keep our romance alive by having a Monday night date night since that is the only night we are closed,” Traci said. “Matt always leaves me sweet notes at the studio or at home. We try to never take each other for granted; however I can count on both hands the number of times I have wanted to strangle him! LOL.” 

    Valentine’s Day plans: “This Valentine’s Day we will be working,” Traci said. “Last year was our first Valentine’s at the studio, and we did a really fun couples-painting and had Champagne, cheese, strawberries, etc. I don’t feel like I am missing out because we are together and we are at our business that we love, surrounded by people we love to be around.”  

    The sweetest thing Matt did for Traci: “Early on in our dating, Matt drove from Fort Bragg in North Carolina to my house in Tallahassee to surprise me for the weekend,” Traci said. He drove the eight hours in his Jeep in November without a top on it.” 

    The sweetest thing Traci did for Matt: For their 10-year anniversary, she surprised him with a mini vacation to one of their favorite hotels. She arranged for his parents to fly in to watch the kids. Champagne was waiting in their room. 

Howard Hoffman  and 

Diane DeSantis Hoffman

    How they met: Howard Hoffman, 60, and Diane DeSantis Hoffman, 61, have been married for almost 19 years. They own The Boca Beach House restaurant in Boca Raton, where Howard is the chef. Diane is a real estate broker (Beachside Properties), a licensed general contractor and a writer. Before the restaurant, they bought, renovated and sold/leased residential properties. 

    “We met when I was staying on Singer Island checking out South Florida as a potential place to live,” Diane said. “I came off the beach in my swimsuit and sarong (in those days, my body was bikini worthy) and sat at the Tiki Bar at the hotel. Moments later, a drink was sent over to me by a man I’d never met (Howard). He came over to me and we had a conversation that began with: ‘So, are you a ‘dancer?’ He thought I was a stripper! I straightened him out quickly and we became friends. We became soul mates. We married and are now cell mates at the restaurant.”

    Working together: “We were in the real estate business for many years,” Diane said. “Basically, we’ve worked together for about 15 years. At first, yes, it was very difficult to work together, live together, sleep together and eat together. But over the years, we’ve gotten into the groove and we’ve both basically adopted selective hearing. It makes life so much more bearable.”  

    The downside: “We never get a break from each other. Howard likes to talk a lot. His eyes are connected to his mouth — when they open in the morning, so does it and neither closes until late at night. I’m sure I have annoying habits as well, but we both go off to our neutral corners, then reunite later. He goes to his garden and I write.

    The perks: “We can trust each other to run the business. We know how the other thinks so we can anticipate an agreed response to any problems that may arise. 

    “I keep him on the straight and narrow and he keeps me reeled in.”

    Keeping romance alive: “Romance alive?” Diane said. “Really? What romance?”

    Valentine’s Day plans: “We’ll probably break open a bottle of Champagne and celebrate the fact that neither of us has killed the other yet,” Diane laughed. “He may want to go out to dinner and let someone else do the cooking for a change.”

    The sweetest thing Howard did for Diane: When Diane turned 50, she ran the New York City Marathon. “My dear husband supported me through months of training, sprained ankles, broken bones, whining and self-doubt,” she said. “When it came to race day, he traveled to New York with me to be my cheerleader. Throughout the day, he’d take a subway, the bus or a taxi to various points along the route so he could cheer me on, hold my jacket or hand me water. It was getting dark by the time I crossed the finish line in Central Park, but he was there waiting at the end, freezing, with open arms. That was very special to me.”

     The sweetest thing Diane did for Howard: “My dear wife planned and executed a special surprise party for my 60th birthday.” 

Doug and Diana Mummaw

    How they met: Doug, 48, an architect, and Diana Mummaw, 53, a designer, work together at Mummaw & Associates in Boca Raton. “We met at my studio, where she was doing temporary work,” Doug said. “We were married 22 years on Jan. 4.”

    Working together: “She has incredible design skills, which I do not have, and our individual skills really enhance a project. I continue to be amazed today at her ability to see color, materials, textiles in such unique and successful ways,” Doug said.

    Diana said her weaknesses are Doug’s strengths. “It’s nice to spend time together and have lunch almost every day.”

    Keeping romance alive: “We are friends, partners and husband and wife. I think having all three makes romance easy,” Doug said.

    “We’re soul mates and really love each other,” Diana said. 

    Valentine’s Day plans: “Dinner and probably a movie at iPic,” Doug said.

    The sweetest thing Doug did for Diana: “We had our 22rd anniversary recently and he wrote down 22 things he still loves about me,” Diana said. “That was special.”

    The sweetest thing Diana did for Doug: “She is my personal shopper and she surprised me with a new outfit,” Doug said.

Tom and Erin Craig

    How they met: Tom and Erin Craig, both 42, run Gulfstream Pharmacy on Ocean Boulevard in Boynton Beach. They met when they were 19, their sophomore year in college. “Tom (who has a degree in finance) is originally from Ohio and I was born in Delray Beach,” Erin, a pharmacist, said. “My father, William Strucker (also a pharmacist), owned Gulfstream Pharmacy at that time. He was getting ready to retire and we were finishing college and decided to move back to Florida and take over the family business. It has been 15 years and we are still going strong.”

    Working together: “We have worked together 23 years and married 14 years,” Erin said. “We consider each other best friends, so it makes working side-by-side fun. It can be stressful sometimes, especially dealing with sick patients and insurance companies.”

    Keeping romance alive: “Respecting each other most importantly, is key, along with a good sense of humor,” Erin said.

    Valentine’s Day plans: “We usually exchange cards and Tom gives me flowers,” Erin said. “It’s the little things everyday that are more important to the relationship.”

     The sweetest thing Tom did for Erin: Tom gave Erin, her mother and daughter all diamond cross necklaces for their daughter’s first Christmas.

    The sweetest thing Erin did for Tom:  She surprised him with a ticket to The Masters tournament for his 30th birthday. 

Alan Jacobson  and
Melissa Boher Jacobson

    How they met: Alan Jacobson, 58, producing director at the Plaza Theatre in Manalapan, and Melissa, 51, social media and marketing director, voice and acting coach and actress, met at an audition in New York for a touring production of Damn Yankees

    “We went out for coffee while we were waiting in a very long line to audition (even though Alan doesn’t drink coffee),” Melissa said.  “We stayed and talked for several hours, and never went back to the audition! We were engaged within three months, married within a year, and have been married for 22 years.”

    Working together: “It is wonderful to work together, as we often read each other’s minds,” Melissa said. “It can also be challenging, because you tend to not hold back opinions with those you know love you unconditionally. The downside is that sometimes it is hard to let go and just live your life outside of work. When you work for yourself it’s 24/7. The upside is we totally understand that, we get to plan and take vacations together, and we get to share what we do and love with each other and with our family.”   

    Keeping romance alive: “It’s certainly a challenge, when you are balancing family and work,” Melissa said. “We try to make it a priority to carve out time for each other, and do special little things for each other even when we are crazy busy.”

    Valentine’s Day plans: “We usually go out to dinner, but we are notorious for not making reservations,” Melissa said. “I like to buy peanut butter chocolates (his favorites) for Alan every year. I usually get a lovely bouquet of red roses from him. We often end up at some little Thai restaurant.”

    The sweetest thing Alan did for Melissa: “Alan is very romantic,” Melissa said. “He never forgets anniversaries or opportunities to give me a gift. The best gifts are the ones I call ‘just because,’ that happen when you need a lift, when you are not expecting anything, like a bouquet of flowers for no reason. Although he has planned some wonderful surprises for me over the years, such as a private dinner in a restaurant, spa days, and shopping sprees, I think my favorite gift is still the lifelong membership he purchased for me for one of my favorite organizations. I love saying I’m a lifelong member of Hadassah, thanks to my awesome hubby.”

    The sweetest thing Melissa did for Alan: “The one that sticks in my head most is when we had a cabaret performance, which Melissa was performing in, and she brought me onstage to sing to,” Alan said. “I always wanted to be that person brought on stage and this was the perfect moment. It was also the perfect song, Irving Berlin’s Always. And for the audience, we were no longer characters to them, but real people. It was a real rush.”

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