My outlook on marriage | Business partner and spouse making the couple dynamics work
At the root of every successful marriage is a strong partnership. Errol and Andrea Greaves are living testament to this - having been married for 28 years and business partners for over 25 years.
The couple grew up in the community of Cave Valley, St Ann, and inevitably met. However, their love developed and was cemented in the church- Clarksonville Apostolic.
In recalling how they met, Andrea told Outlook that there was no specific point at which she realised that Errol was the one. She noted that it was through conversations and finding out more about his personality that really made her realise how 'solid' he was.
"I could see that he was a kind-hearted person who was extremely hard-working, and then I thought to myself that he was the perfect person for me," Andrea said.
But her husband Errol remembers it differently. "It was easy for me because she was such a beautiful girl - very solid in Christ, which was important to me, and had a very magnetic spirit that I just could not resist." The union, which produced three children, has been a blessing for the family. The couple noted that even though having children makes it harder to sustain the marriage, they ensure that they still have date nights, though those are infrequent.
"We have really supportive family members who, over the years, helped with our three children," they shared.
The couple, who have always had a long love affair with flowers, are owners and operators of Shangri-La Flowers - a professional floral service that specialises in floral decor for weddings, parties, anniversaries, graduations, funerals, birthdays, etc. They started off in the floral industry over 25 years ago under the name On Time Flowers.
"I was working at Sans Souci and the contracted florist for the hotel was leaving, so I saw it as an opportunity and decided to take the contract and used the same workers. Our first contract was with Sans Souci and Siboney hotels," Errol explained.
In 2007, they acquired ownership of Shangri-La Flowers, and merged both companies. As a pre-eminent Jamaican floral provider employing some of the best designers, they have been providing brides, grooms and a wide range of clients with memorable creations that surpass their expectations.
There is usually a common concern that going into business with one's spouse could ultimately put the business itself at risk. For Andrea and Errol, that has never been the case. They have mastered the art of making the couple dynamic work at work.
Andrea explained that it is very difficult to differentiate between husband and wife versus business partners, but it has to be done in order to have a successful business and marriage.
"When we are at work, we try to remain as professional as possible. We also try to keep each other accountable so there are no excuses. Sometimes it is very difficult, because I really want to shout at Errol as if we were at home. But out of respect for myself, my husband and my employees, staying professional is of utmost importance," she explained.
For Errol, being married definitely makes it easier - and harder - to work together. He notes that it is easier based on the fact that they know each other very well, so they know how to maximise on each other's strengths.
"Sometimes it is harder because when I'm upset with my wife, I have to realise that I cannot be upset with my business partner. It is indeed a challenge, but it's all worth it," he said.
As a testament to their service and as the leading florist in Jamaica, they ensure they keep up with the latest trends and designs by attending workshops and seminars, both locally and internally. In May 2017, they expanded the business and opened a location in the Second City, Montego Bay, and currently supplying the finest floral arrangements to the hotel industry, among them Sandals, Jewels and Bahia Principe Hotel. Along with their years of experience, they were awarded a diploma in advanced floral designs at the South Florida School of Floral Designs in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Andrea noted that during their 28 years of marriage, she has learnt that she is more patient now than she was before, and is better able to face adversity. For Errol, the most important lesson that he has learnt about marriage is that it takes hard work, two people who are willing to make it work, and most importantly, be committed to exemplifying the love of Christ in the union. They also share the sentiment that respect, is the most important thing in a marriage.
"In the absence of all other virtues, respect as it includes accountability and a proper understanding of what is required to make the other person happy. Communication, love, trust and your partner trust in God and respect," Andrea shared.