The Look of Love
For Rafael and Stacey Mollega, it was love at first sight — sort of.
"We've been married for 15 years, worked together for 17," said Rafael. "That's how we met. Working at an optometrist's office in Louisiana."
Today, the Mollega's work together in their own office. Rafael is an optometrist and Stacey is the office manager and technician.
After so many years of marriage and business, Rafael says he enjoys going to work with his wife every day.
"I get to hang out with my best friend," he said.
Another advantage, Stacey pointed out, is truly knowing your co-worker.
"We've been working together for so long we both just know what each other needs to get things done," she said.
If tensions ever get high, Rafael says it's important to be flexible.
"Let some things go; don't take too many things to heart," he said. "Be understanding."
"Know that your spouse is there for your best interests," Stacey added. "I know he's working hard for our family and he knows I'm working hard, too."
And for any other couples looking to go into business together, Stacey has three words for them.
"Don't do it," she joked.
All jokes aside, the secret to making it work, the two said, is happiness.
"Make sure the work you do is something you both enjoy," Stacey said.
"Make sure you're telling your spouse every day that they make you happy," Rafael added.
— Jennie McKeon
Signs of love
Tom and Nancy Weidenhamer are perhaps the most personable couple in Destin. The husband and wife duo, owners of SOS Printing, Graphics and Embroidery, command an immediate sense of familiarity to everyone they encounter.
Married for nearly 51 years, the Weidenhamers have worked alongside one another for just as long.
"I was a stay at home mom, but we had apartments and coin laundries," said Nancy, reminiscing of their early days.
Both Tom and Nancy agree about the main factor that’s kept them together.
"He's my best friend, so we can share everything," said Nancy.
"Just being each other's best friend is what you've got to do to stay married too," chimed in Tom.
Nancy shared the three most important aspects that have kept their love alive: "God is in our life and we are best friends, always have been. And we talk, we've always talked."
As the printing machines whirred on, the two met eyes and shared a moment, "We still like each other," Nancy smiled. "That's right," Tom smiled back, "It keeps us close together."
— Savannah Chastain
Fishing for love
Capt. Jim Westbrook hooked his bride Suzie aboard the boat.
Together for 20 years, and married for 10, the two met on the private boat Risky Business that Jim ran back in the 1980s.
"He was up in the wheel and I was on the deck and he asked what I wanted to do tonight, and I said I want to catch a red snapper," Suzie said, noting it wasn't long before she snagged a 5-pound snapper.
"I found out she could fish," Jim said.
It was several years before the two hooked back up.
"She showed up back down here in 1991 and I remembered her," Jim said.
"I said hey, you want to go fishing on the biggest boat in town every day? All you've got to do is cook a few cheeseburgers. I set the trap then … she didn't know it," Jim said with a smile on his face. "And she's been cooking me cheeseburgers every since."
Suzie runs the galley aboard their boat New Florida Girl.
"I never have to worry about anything, inventory wise and it's always clean," Jim said. "The owner always has the best heart for the situation. All I had to do was keep the boat running and catch fish."
And Jim says it’s never a good idea to bring work home, when you do, "you can get a little heartburn after supper. But all in all it's been a good ride.
"It's been great," Suzie chimed in.
"We work together; it's a lot of giving and taking," she added.
— Tina Harbuck
The simple secret
As the owners of Emerald Coast Chiropractic, Ken and Kathy Whidden have worked together for the past 13 years, which also includes 13 years of marriage.
Living and working together can be a tricky balance, but for the Whiddens, it's no big deal, as long as Ken remembers the simple secret to making it work.
"The wife is always right," he told The Log.
As for advice the couple may have to others on how to get along at the office and make it work, Ken mirrors the response:
"The wife is always right."
With 13 years of marriage and working together under their belts, Ken said the best part of working together is that "we've already slept our way to the top of the organization," but the worst part is "we cannot move up any further."
Despite their joking nature, at the end of the day, the Whiddens may not always do the "sweet" thing, but they are still best friends.
"We love each other very much," Kathy said.
— Matt Algarin