Maintaining a healthy marriage takes hard work and commitment under the best of circumstances. Throw into the mix spouses who are both entrenched in the nitty-gritty inner workings of government and politics, and it can be an even bigger minefield.
But that doesn’t stop power couple Alan and Sarah Suskey from ensuring their love and faith take the space it deserves in their marriage.
Alan Suskey is an Executive Vice President at Shumaker Advisors where he represents clients in research and tech industries and small businesses in Tallahassee and Washington.
Sarah Suskey is a partner in the government affairs practice at The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners. She’s worked in The Process for more than 15 years.
Like most in The Process, their work is unyielding, schedules often unpredictable, and the drive to succeed on behalf of clients unending.
Alan and Sarah (mostly Sarah, if we’re being honest) spoke with Florida Politics about the balance between work and marriage and how they make it work.
Their work often overlaps, Sarah said, “because we practice in similar policy spaces.” They even work on some of the same teams. That creates a lot of opportunities for togetherness, including work lunches and, when it works out, even tagging along together to committee meetings.
One perk to their work/love balance is pretty simple.
“Fortunately, we have never truly been on opposite sides of an issue,” Sarah said, though she noted Alan often likes to razz her on issues he knows will get her fired up.
“But we have never had a personal conflict arise from a professional matter. It is bound to happen someday, though, and I think we are both mentally prepared for it,” she said.
The couple described each other as best friends, and they value their relationship as a way to work together to get through the tough times.
“Life in general can be stressful, even without high-pressure jobs,” Sarah said.
She said it’s important to both her and Alan to “spend time not talking about The Process.”
“Make sure we focus on our life outside of work, and focus on our marriage, on our faith,” she explained.
It probably doesn’t hurt that the Suskeys have a cute love story.
See, at first, Sarah wasn’t really even that into it.
“When Alan started working in Tallahassee, I wasn’t his biggest fan,” she said with a smile.
But with some coaxing from friend Melissa Ramba, another pro in The Process, Sarah came around.
“After our first date I gave him a side hug and went home intrigued, but after our third date, four days later, we were inseparable,” Sarah said.
They got engaged just four and a half months later and married in Napa later that year — a whirlwind, just like their work.
Now a seasoned couple navigating the rigors of politics within the confines of marriage, the Suskeys don’t really need rules to keep things running smoothly at home. They said they’re pretty good at “firewalling” the more grueling parts of their professional lives from their personal.
“Our work and home lives are pretty well entwined,” Sarah noted, adding that like so many others working in Tallahassee land, “some of our closest friends are couples who both work in The Process.”
Rather than walling off work completely, they at times embrace the overlap.
“A couple of times a week we try to take time to download what’s been going on,” Sarah said. “We bounce ideas off one another, discuss frustrations or hurdles we’re facing and share intel we have gleaned. It is helpful to both know the players and personalities.”
Having found a recipe for a successful marriage, while still leading winning careers in political strategy and advocacy, the Suskeys have a bit of something to offer newcomers.
“Clients, legislators, and problems come and go,” Sarah said. “The most important thing at the end of the day is your relationship. You won’t look back on your life and career and say, ‘I wish I would have won THAT argument.’ So, keep in mind what really matters.”