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Partnered: Podcast Transcript

Anita Rao
If you're as curious about sex and relationships as I am, then it's likely you know the name Esther Perel. She's a psychotherapist who studies desire and intimacy. And honestly, in my book, she is a legend because her insights are so on point. The part of her work I think about most often: how you sustain desire in long-term relationships. One of the keys, according to her, is finding ways to see your partner in a different light. When they're fully in their element, doing something they love, you can access a different part of them that may not be visible in the more mundane of the day to day.

The pandemic gave some of us more of those little moments with our partners. I got to eavesdrop on a few lectures about soil science — kind of boring — and some sweet mentorship moments — not so boring. All of that made me start to wonder about couples who make a life and a living together every day. How do they sustain desire and connection long-term and keep finding new ways to see each other differently?

This is Embodied, I'm Anita Rao. One industry filled with couples who work together: music. Yeah, it's equally known for couples who don't last and then the band splits up. But there are quite a few couples whose partnership outlasted their performance careers. Think Johnny and June Carter Cash, for example. One North Carolina grown married musical duo: Sarah and Austin McCombie of the band Chatham Rabbits. They met at a concert in Carrboro in 2013.

Sarah McCombie
I was on stage he was the — the lowly audience member, but thank goodness for social media in allowing us to connect.

Austin McCombie
I remember we weren't 21 yet because I was drinking a root beer, trying to just blend in with the rest of the crowd. And I just saw her walk on stage and I was like, "Man, I really, I really want to meet Sarah — or this girl that's playing the banjo." I didn't even know her name at the time, and so, I turned to my friend and I was like, "Man, I've got to talk to her, she's so cool," or whatever. And he — he told me, "Man, you're never gonna talk to her, man. Like, everybody in here is thinking that, it's not going to happen." And I was like, "You're right." This was pre, like, Tinder or any of the online dating stuff. So I think now it's a lot less weird, but at the time, you know, I was like, the only thing I can do is, like, message her band on Facebook. That's like my only option. So that's the route I took, and we were able to, kind of, go out on our first date like a year later after I first saw her at that show.

Anita Rao
The two serendipitously met at the show of another married couple: Emily Frantz and Andrew Marlin of Watchhouse, formerly known as Mandolin Orange. Early in Sarah and Austin's relationship, Emily and Andrew invited them over for dinner and shared some helpful advice about getting started in the indie music scene while also in a relationship. At first, Sara and Austin pursued music on the side. They got married in 2015, and three years later, decided to quit their day jobs and pursue music together full time.

Austin McCombie
So I was a financial planner at the time, so I had — I mean, it was such a big career change for me, going from suit and tie every day to, you know, thinking about playing music for a living. But, I think the first time we were at — we ever even considered the ability to do that was, we were recording our first album — just for fun — at the Rubber Room Studios in Chapel Hill with Jerry Brown as our producer, who's also just an incredible human being that we just love. And he was the first person that, kind of, put the idea in our head that, "You guys, these songs are really good, like, maybe you could give this a try." And after he told me that I was so stoked, and Sarah and I kind of started talking about it. And eventually, we sort of did this thing that a lot of people do, like, when they're asking someone to go to prom with them, like, in high school. We were like, okay, we're going to take the weekend apart, and we're gonna write down, like, a yes or no checkbox of whether or not we're going to actually do this. And, at the end of the weekend, like, we're going to each check yes or no individually and compare. And both of us checked yes. So we were like, let's do it.

Anita Rao
Oh, my God. I love that, that's amazing. What a — what a way to make a decision. You're both, you know, making it individually and then coming together. But I mean, it kind of brings up the fact that there is, like, there's so much risk in doing something like this, and quitting your day job in taking this big leap. And, Sarah, I'm curious about how you all manage that as a couple. Do you have different levels of risk tolerance and how did you negotiate that as you were starting this journey?

Sarah McCombie
The risk in it for us was not trying it and to continue living our very safe, conventional lives and wondering, you know — getting to be 75 and looking back and being like, "Wow, if back when we were 25, you know, what would life be like if we had just tried that." Austin and I are both pretty go-getter-y kind of people, but I would say Austin is more willing to take risks. And I like, I don't know, I think I'm more prone to, to play it safe. But, having Austin's background as a financial planner, and like, having his knowledge on the finances of the matter — that helped me feel a lot more secure. Like okay, worst case scenario, we fail at playing music, and we go back and get "job" jobs again, and it will be okay. But to circle back though, the risk in it for us was just not doing it. That was the riskiest piece of it all.

Anita Rao
So you went into it, kind of, knowing that you each had these different skill sets — Austin really good at the finances, you with other strengths. How did you, kind of, delineate what your roles were going to be in the business? And talk to me about how that kind of shaped how you decided to, kind of, be a couple that did business together, Sarah?

Sarah McCombie
Yeah so, we didn't exactly know how the roles were going to shake out. I mean, apart from the fact that Austin just had been working in finance, we really didn't know what we were each going to be really good at. But it became very apparent very quickly that, like, I really excelled at publicity and the booking aspects of running the band and merch management and fan communication and, like, all of those things. And Austin just naturally gravitated towards the gear and the technical side of things and contracts. And we were able to sparse out and, like, put into place these different roles and, kind of, try to, like, manage, you know — be really good at the things that we manage and trust the other person to do the same. But we certainly didn't know that going into it, because we'd spent three years in, like, the normal workforce, living totally different work lives and not knowing hardly anything about what the other person did for eight to 10 hours every day. So that was definitely an experience, just, learning how that other person responded to things and handled situations, because that's just a part that most people don't get to see about their partner.

Anita Rao
Yeah, not at all. And also, that transition to going from being apart eight hours a day to now spending those working eight hours together. And then, what do you know, that person is still there, and they're still living in your house and they're still your partner. So I mean, talk to me, Austin, about the kind of routines and practices that you all began to develop to make sure that your whole relationship wasn't just the band and the business.

Austin McCombie
You know, a lot of our friends during the pandemic were like, "Can you believe," like — they were, you know, trying to sort of, like, start bad mouthing their partner to me and Sarah separately. Like, you know, the husband will be like, "Dude, can you believe, like, living with your partner all the time — so crazy." Like, dude, I've been doing that now for the last four years. And yeah, it is crazy, but I think Sarah and I — we have, like, the opposite problem that a lot of couples have. Which is, like, we have to schedule time to be apart rather than schedule, like, a date night. Our date night for each other, like doing something for each other is being like, I'm gonna go on a fly fishing trip for two days, or Sarah's gonna go horseback riding with her friends or whatever it is, and really, like, being very, you know, deliberate about having time apart. But you know, it was — it was fun when we first started Chatham Rabbits. We kind of went through a whole new honeymoon phase of our relationship because, you know, we had been working in the corporate world so much and, like, that is, like, really just like two ships passing in the night. You really are not spending that much time together, to be honest with you — except on the weekends. And so, it was fun when we first started. It was like, "Oh, we get to spend every waking second together, and travel, and play music and get paid. This is insane, you know?" And then after a while, yeah, you just realize, like, it's healthy for us to have space, because you — when you're with somebody 24/7, you can start taking it — them — for granted. And, that's exactly what this record we just released on June 3, "If You See Me Riding By," that is — that is what that record — and, specifically that song, "If You See Me Riding By," is all about. Which is, just taking the other person for granted and that can be really harmful in a relationship, for sure.

"If You See Me Riding By" by Chatham Rabbits
If you see me riding by,
on a horse 16 hands high,
take me down,
pull me aside,
and tell me to check my pride.

Don't you know that Jesus rode,
on a horse so low he drug his toes.
As long as the red river flows,
I will tie my horse and walk below...

Anita Rao
I love that song, and the lyrics get me every time. Because yeah, it is easy to take your partner for granted — even if you don't work or create with them. My partner and I have been in a long distance relationship for about a year now. And there have been so many small and large moments when I've realized how nice it was to have him around day to day, and how much I took that as a given. Like when the summer cockroaches in North Carolina come crawling, and I have to fend them off alone with a trusty flip flop. Or when I've had a really hard work day, and it just feels much more bleak to come home to an empty house. When we were brainstorming, all the creative couples in our life while working on this show, we realized we have one in our own office whose voices as you might recognize if you're a big NPR fan.

Terry Graedon
I'm Terry Graedon.

Joe Graedon
And I'm Joe Graedon, and we've been working together for about 44 years.

Terry Graedon
Yeah, since about what? 1977 or so.

Joe Graedon
And we do a lot of things together. In fact, we do everything together.

Terry Graedon
Well, you play tennis, and I do not.

Joe Graedon
And you do karate, and I do not. But, in terms of work...

Terry Graedon
We pretty much are working together. And for us, it really works. It's really helpful to have each other to bounce ideas off of and to refine ideas. Sometimes, I'll write a first draft, and you'll improve it, and sometimes we do it the other way around.

Joe Graedon
I think, you know, for the most part, we have complementary skills. Like I said, you're the great editor. But, I sometimes come up with cool ideas.

Terry Graedon
Oh yes. You like to go dashing after cool ideas, and I like to make sure that the cool ideas have at least a little bit of ground underneath them, so that you don't end up like the Wile E. Coyote off in the middle of nowhere.

Joe Graedon
Well, you know, the way I think of our relationship is a little bit like the phrase: there are tree shakers and jelly-makers.

Terry Graedon
Yeah, you're the tree shaker, and I'm the jelly-maker. And it works really well.

Anita Rao
That was Terry and Joe Graedon, the co-hosts of "People's Pharmacy." They're also co-writers of newspaper articles and books and a married couple. I'm going to be honest, it took me a hot minute to understand the tree shaker, jelly-maker metaphor. But now that I do, I'm into it. Another couple with a slightly saucier metaphor for their work? Brandé and Danielle.

Brandé Elise
Honestly, our business is like our foreplay. Like, where most people would find that it's annoying to talk about business all the time, we're constantly talking about it. But this is essentially like our baby.

Anita Rao
Brandé Elise and her partner, Danielle Gray, are the co-founders of Unoia: a CBD product and lifestyle company based in Atlanta. They decided to mix business with pleasure after only three months of dating. Here's Danielle.

Danielle Gray
You know, I think where I should start is our backgrounds — and we came into this as entrepreneurs. So I have a marketing firm, and so she does voiceover work and hosting. So we already had the entrepreneurship in us. And so, when we started dating, it was like fireworks, like it was just like, we had so many different ideas. And we realized that we had a really cool balance between this corporate energy and this very fun style. And how we describe it is: I draw and she colors. And it's a really cool way that we saw, and we were like, "You know what, let's just create something. Let's do something fun." And, it just — it didn't stop.

Anita Rao
I'm curious about that process of, kind of, getting to know one another in your romantic relationship and getting to know one another as business partners, kind of, at the same time, because you started it so early in your relationship. Brandé, talk to me about that, and what were some of the challenges that that brought about for y'all?

Brandé Elise
The challenges I would say — I mean, we're a lot alike, but we're very different. She's more corporate than I am, so even the way that she'll handle the situation is not the way that I will. So it's just, it's really interesting to have that balance of: sometimes we're on the same page and sometimes we're not. But I think that's really what makes us so good together, is that we're not the same.

Anita Rao
You all have pretty defined roles within your business, which I know you've said, kind of, helps manage what it's like to work so closely together. I guess I'm curious about how those roles — defined roles in your relationship — mirror any defined roles in your, in your romantic relationship — the mirror between the business and the romance.

Danielle Gray
It's actually, oddly, the exact opposite. So where there's times that, for our business, I am leading the business parts, I'm like, "Okay, let's do this meeting, let's have this strategy session." And then, Brandé will say, "Okay, we need to talk to these people." So she always has the people aspect, and that's the same way in our actual relationship. I'm like, I don't want to really — I mean, not that I don't want to deal with people, but I'm just not the PR person. So she's the one who's like, "Okay, we're going on this activity, we're going to this event." So she — the social aspect that she, she really helps and build our business, really is the same way that she helps me stay out the house and stay social with other people.

Anita Rao
How do you all, in working in such a small team, kind of, find the balance between praise and constructive criticism? We are a small team on Embodied, and that's something that you have to talk a lot about. Kind of, how people want to receive feedback and how you balance those two. How does it look to do that together when you're also in a relationship?

Brandé Elise
Well, CBD is a huge factor — before, you know, really interesting conversations that we know we'll probably disagree on. You know, at first, I feel like there's just so much emotion behind the business, you know, and I don't think we could really get our thoughts across. So at first, it was kind of like, two people, kind of, yelling at each other their points. And I think now we've gotten to the point where we can sit and talk, we both understand that the business means a lot to both of us and everyone's opinion matters and no idea is a bad idea.

Danielle Gray
I think that we respect that each of us is really going into this with love and really passion about the business. And this is something that we are both giving so much to. So I think that that's one aspect. I think that when we listen to each other, and we, just, can sit down and not put that emotional side, it really helps. But it is hard. It is hard to draw that line when you, you believe so much, and you're always in it. So one thing that we do — we just have conversations outside of the house or out, you know, "Let's go for a nature walk, let's go somewhere, let's go have dinner." And, that really helps us get out of that, that mindset, when we're in the office looking at these things, staring at a laptop. It just helps us, kind of, break the mold a bit.

Brandé Elise
I mean, we're really good about taking space from each other, but that's been learned, you know. Like, I would now wake up at 6 a.m. just to have time to myself, and go to Pilates and go to the gym. And then, by the time all that's done, I can say hi to Danielle.

Anita Rao
You're in the headspace.

Brandé Elise
Absolutely, like now I'm finally ready for everyone, including the dogs and now business talk. And, you know, before, I find that we were waking up and were just talking about work. And then, I was a little discouraged. I'm like, "I can't do this right now." And then, it turns into a, "When do you want to do it?" And it's like, okay, so we finally got into the space of meeting — creating more time. You know, because we kept saying we didn't have enough time. So, I found that in waking up that early, it puts everyone else on track. Everyone else gets there early. By about 9:30, we're showered and we're ready to talk about Unoia.

Anita Rao
One thing you should know about me: I'm kind of a serial monogamist. And one thing I've learned along that journey is, no matter how long you've been with someone, if you do something new together, you'll learn something new about them. That's how it was for Areli and Leon: the married couple who run Little Waves Coffee Roasters and Cocoa Cinnamon in Durham.

Areli Barrera Grodski
I have learned more about our communication styles. I'm such a stubborn person that it's been such a beautiful thing to learn how to stop myself from just wanting to do things my way. Because you're always usually right at the end of the day, almost always.

Leon Grodski Barrera
Seeing how much influence you have by being who you are, and having an aesthetic that you do, and how that creates a feeling in the business — the aesthetic, and who comes, and which employees we have — without really trying. Like, if you weren't there — even if I tried — it wouldn't feel or look the same way.

Anita Rao
All of that doesn't mean that bridging romance and business comes easy.

Areli Barrera Grodski
I think we have very different needs, and I think that that gets exacerbated with working together and living together. Yeah, doing lots of things together.

Leon Grodski Barrera
When you own a business where you're kind of always on, when — even when you're off — you always have the feeling like something might come up. And then, I think it's, you know, the obvious stuff, like, you want to get stuff done, and then you talk about it at home and you wish you didn't. And then, you can't stop thinking about it, and then you wake up in the middle of night thinking about it.

Areli Barrera Grodski
Yeah, even when we're on date nights, and we're relaxed, is when our creative juices start to flow. We start working — we started talking about work again.

Leon Grodski Barrera
Yeah, so you have to, kind of, plan time when you're not supposed to be working, but that you can let yourself work, so that you can actually have off when you are off.

Anita Rao
That was Leon and Areli of Little Waves Coffee Roasters and Cocoa Cinnamon in Durham. Hearing their story after talking with Sarah, Austin, Brandé and Danielle, I was surprised by just how much all the couples had in common, despite the different worlds they operate in. Sarah agreed, and seemed equally as excited about sharing space with another couple with similar challenges.

Sarah McCombie
Everything that Brandé and Danielle are saying I'm just like, "Preach it!" Because it resonates with us so, so, so much, like, even though we're in different industries, it's just — you're speaking our exact language and the issues that we face. But it's funny, you know, I think one of the things that's so interesting about being in business with your partner is that, you oftentimes get mad about things or have issues arise that, like, are specifically tied to the business. But you, like, still have to sleep in the same bed as that person that night. And like, you know, you're irritated by something that's simply a business matter, but it flows into your personal relationship. And you know, one of the things that we've done as far as, like, addressing criticism and addressing issues that come up, is that we have started asking, like, "May I give you some feedback?" or, "When you're ready to hear this, I have a few things I'd like to share about how this show went or how you handled this." And we also try to bookend it with a compliment and some praise so it's a constructive conversation. But I think asking and, like, preparing to talk about it, instead of just, like, laying it on the other person is really important and, kind of, getting — goes to what Brandé was saying about, like, not just, like, waking up and immediately jumping into talking about business, but giving some prep time to it.

Anita Rao
Totally. And that, yeah, that, kind of, compliment sandwich style thing can work. But it's hard in creative work because there's also ego involved, and you work on something, and you're really proud of it. And it can be hard when it's not received in exactly the way that you hoped. I'm curious, Austin, if there have been moments of that in y'all's collaborative work or songwriting and how you navigate that.

Austin McCombie
Yeah, I think — just to be fully transparent, is something that we still are working on, you know, and perfecting. And, I think what might be slightly different in our case — and I think every business is creative and has, like, an artistic component for sure when it comes to branding and all this stuff — but, I think for Sarah and I specifically — and other folks in the, like, the music and art industry — I think one of the hard parts is, like, songwriting is so personal. You know, it's just like a part of who you are. And to write a song and think it's really good and then bring that to your partner, and you know, have it critiqued and, sort of, the old, like, redlining, like you'd get an English class on a paper. Like, I feel like that can be a really tricky thing to navigate within our relationship. And we've gotten a lot better at it over time — I think during the pandemic, especially. And I think, simply it's just, kind of, you know, we've just built grace for each other and respect for each other that allows us to, like, invite that person into that space. But it's really just something we've just had to, kind of, slog our way through over time. It's not been easy, I'll say that.

Sarah McCombie
Definitely, Austin. I just wanted to chime in there too and say, like, in regards to like, give each other grace, I think something that has helped Austin and I, and maybe would help other couples in business together, is just assuming the best possible intentions from the other person and, like, that you both really want it to work. Again, Austin and I are far from perfect. I really struggle with this and, like, always just want to control the situation instead of, like, letting go and knowing Austin's gonna do well on his own. But that's just been helpful to try to use that as a guidepost in our relationship and and work.

Anita Rao
Totally. Danielle and Brandé, I'm curious about navigating that kind of conflict and feedback. I don't know if there any examples that come to mind for you all about working through that together.

Danielle Gray
Well, I have one that came to mind. It was actually the naming of our company, which is a huge, huge deal. So we started off as Honey Bunny — we were doing CBD-infused honey. And, you know, we were like, "Oh, this is great, our business is gonna grow." But then we realized, you can't do many product lines when your name is Honey Bunny. So, you know, when we were talking about, you know, what we wanted in the logos, it was a very difficult conversation, because we are speaking about something that we both are putting so much heart into. And, I think that, to Sarah's point, you really have to trust that everyone at the table — which is just the two of us — is really, you know, coming with it with, you know, the best intentions, and there's no negativity. It's really actually hard coming from me, because I come from this corporate space. So, it's like, "Okay, we need to have meetings, this needs to be on the calendar, we need to, you know, we need to be very precise. This is due this day." And, Brandé's like, "Well, who said it's due this day?" And I'm like, "Well, I mean, I — it needs to be due, because we have the next thing." So, you know, I think that just navigating our experiences together, and recognizing that we don't come from the same background, but the things still get done. So it's just — it's really navigating, okay, and being accepting that we all do it so differently, but we all have the best intentions at heart.

Brandé Elise
Trust is difficult, you know, because we know all the ways that we would do something. But, man, I tell you, when you — when you trust someone, especially your partner, with this, and if they don't get it — if you give them that grace to get it right, they'll feel comfortable enough to do that, to be that vulnerable with you again. So I really try to put myself in Danielle's shoes and make sure when I'm saying something, would I be able to receive it too, you know. And I really attempt to take ego out of things, and sometimes it does creep in there. But Danielle was raised way differently than I was in the fact that she can ask questions. So she's very inquisitive and really gets to the bottom of things. And, you know, she's taught me a lot with, just, wanting more, and wanting to know more, and inquiring, and asking the right questions — especially in being a host, you know. So we've learned a lot from each other. So much, and it's continuous. You know, this doesn't stop, like, we have — we've figured out this piece of this level, but, you know, we still got to beat King Koopa.

Anita Rao
I want to return one more time to some Esther Perel talk. That framework of hers that I talked about at the top of this episode — finding ways to see your partner differently — is something she touches on in her TED talk called "The Secret to Desire." I know, I know, I couldn't be more NPR right now referring to a TED talk within a podcast, but sometimes it's just good bite-sized information. Okay, so one of the things she says can help build more desire is for your partner to be off limits in some way — when there's some absence and longing in the relationship. I have long wondered, when people who work together live together and are in each other's lives in every possible way, how do you cultivate that absence and longing, and make space for intimacy and a deeper level of connection? Brandé hinted a bit at their approach earlier, so we'll get to her thoughts first.

Brandé Elise
You know, like I said before earlier, taking that time with yourself, so that there's something to miss, you know. And when you're talking about work and stuff every day, it's very difficult. So, like Sarah said, like, we literally on our calendars have to put date night on it, and schedule that time with each other. You know, and that doesn't mean, like, bring the dogs too, it's like, literally go get an Airbnb. Just have a separate place, so we can like — and not talk about work, and mind you, work might come up, so that's not like the rule. But just, you know, being able to laugh about something else that's not Unoia, or like, talk about family or something on TV, like anything else, you know. You don't realize how that really does affect your intimacy. Because why would I want to sit here and do something intimate when we're sitting, we're talking about numbers all day, and now you want to switch here? That's a really difficult thing to do.

Anita Rao
Right, I'm not I'm not quite with you, I can't follow that.

Danielle Gray
I learned that the hard way. But, I would say that, you know, really, the foreplay, to Brandé's point, is our dreams, like our aspirations. You know, the business is the — is the medium, it's our vehicle to get where we want to go. So when we talk about, you know, "Man, I can't wait to do this," and also be present in what we have and be grateful for what we have as well. But I think that that's where we really — we find that love for each other because that's what brought us together in the first place. And, like Brandé said, just making space and disconnecting from the business as well. And looking at each other, like sometimes we just say just — let's put the phone screens down, turn everything off, let's just look at each other. Because sometimes you realize you haven't even done that in a couple of days with running a business. So, those little pieces of self awareness is important — that helps with the intimacy a lot.

Anita Rao
That's so true. I know there's that, like, New York Times "36 Questions to Get to Know Someone," or something, and one of the things is like, look at each other for, like, a solid 30 seconds or a minute. I remember doing that being like, "Oh, wow, I don't think I've looked at my partner for this long in a really long time. That's a long time." Austin and Sarah, I want to put the same question to you all, you mentioned how for you it's about, you know, creating space to see friends and and creating space when you're going to be alone versus a date night. But how does that then connect to how you do find space for intimacy in that kind of connection? Austin, let's start with you.

Austin McCombie
Oh man, I can just relate so much to everything that's being said, it's pretty wild. Although for me, the financials are sexy, so... No, I think making space to have something to miss is definitely a huge factor. And I think, you know, just constant reminders, we had to go to Ikea this morning and pick up something for this new property we've been working on. And, it's so easy, Sarah was working on our laptop the entire drive there and back. And, there's a couple of moments that we were just like, alright, we got to take a few seconds and just look at each other and just, like, hold hands for — even if it's, like, 10 seconds, you're just like touching the other person. You know what I mean? It's crazy to think how much effort that, kind of, little thing takes and how easy it is to not do it. But I'm trying to always, constantly remind myself to do those things with Sarah. And, you know, I know she would agree with that. And ultimately, that leads to a lot more, just, intimacy throughout the day, and I think it's so important when you're working together.

Anita Rao
Yeah, Sarah, anything you want to add, and anything that you have found that helps cultivate that in the relationship?

Sarah McCombie
Well, the thing that came to mind reminded me of one of our tours that we went on in early March of this year. For the first time, we took one of our teammates, our crew members, with us in the van for the entire tour. And it was an awesome tour, and we had so much fun. And we are so blessed and fortunate to work with some incredible musicians and, like just, awesome people that we love. But we quickly learned on that trip that, like, Austin and I really need our personal space as a couple, because — like any couple — we have, like, silly inside jokes and nicknames and, like, weird quirks and, like, songs that we like to dance along to that is, like, really nerdy and stupid, and we don't want to do it in front of anybody else. And so we, we learned that — through that experience that, "Okay, this is important enough for us to have, like, our sacred space, that we just need to, like, forfeit the money up and buy a tour vehicle specifically for the band." So, we had to, like, realize how important it is that we need this space. And we've had to make financial and, like, other sorts of decisions to put those sorts of things into place, so we have space to, like, be our silly selves.

I think the other thing that came to mind as just a practical thing, is that I think it's really important for couples that are in business with each other to hang out with friends that knew them before they were in the business together, and know them as more than just Chatham Rabbits. You know, and we have some old college friends that know us when we just were playing banjo on the side, you know, for free burritos back in 2014. And, it's really cool to just have those friends and not have any talk about the business. And, I'm sure Brandé, Danielle, y'all can, you know, acknowledge that there's some friends that you've made through the business — which is awesome — but you want to have that intimacy brought up by people that knew you before you started your, your journey.

Anita Rao
I totally get what Sarah means by that. I think there's so much from this conversation that applies to all relationships. It feels really good to be seen in your whole identity, not just what you create or who you are in a relationship, friendship or family unit. To get to that point in any relationship, where you feel like your wholeness is reflected back to you, takes lots of ongoing work. These two couples said there's still a lot they're figuring out separately and together.

Sarah McCombie
My therapist says the opposite of control isn't chaos, it's trust. And I'm really trying to be better at trusting Austin and not trying to white knuckle the steering wheel of Chatham Rabbits my whole life. I need to be able to do better in that, and that's what I'm working on.

Austin McCombie
I would say for me, I think it comes back to the art more and — for me, just probably a trust issue — but just, like, welcoming and looking at Sarah for her input when it comes to our art and our songwriting, and just being an open book in that department.

Anita Rao
Brandé and Danielle, I'm gonna turn it to you Danielle, I'll let you go first.

Danielle Gray
So, I would say the thing that I'm working on that actually is super linked to our relationship too is just, always building confidence. Top of every mountain is another valley, so it's like you're always learning and growing. And, I think that being more confident as our CEO, and I know Brandé trusts me. So I think that having that trust in myself will also elicit more trust that she can provide to me as well.

Anita Rao
And Brandé, I'll let you close.

Brandé Elise
Making sure, just, the line of communications are open, and making sure that in those moments that there's uncomfort, that something is still said. You know, rather than it just being that person walking through it by themselves, even though I don't understand. So, just communicating, you know, that I'm here and, you know, we're doing this together.

Anita Rao
Before we close, I'm gonna let you in on a little behind-the-scenes moment that happened right after we stopped officially recording. Honestly, it's often then that some of the real gold comes out, and this time, it really warmed my heart and reminded me exactly why we do what we do with this show.

Sarah McCombie
This has been so enlightening, and I am so glad to know another couple in entrepreneurship together, and I feel so seen.

Danielle Gray
Right? Same.

Brandé Elise
Thanks for sharing you guys' story, because I feel like — I mean, the representation of this is very important for so many other people, especially through the pandemic, who started these businesses with their partners. So, this is really helpful conversation.

Anita Rao
Embodied is a production of North Carolina Public Radio-WUNC, a listener-supported station. If you want to lend your support to this podcast or WUNC's other shows on demand, consider a contribution at wunc.org now. Incredible storytelling like you hear on Embodied is only possible because of listeners like you.

This episode was produced by Kaia Findlay. Amanda Magnus is our editor, Jenni Lawson is our sound engineer and Quilla wrote our theme music. If you enjoyed this show, we have a little assignment for you, it'll take just two minutes. Text this episode to five friends who you think will like it. You spreading the word about Embodied is what helps new folks find our show, and it means so much.

Until next time, I'm Anita Rao, taking on the taboo with you.

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