The Creative Partnership That Saved Our Marriage

The Creative Partnership That Saved Our Marriage

My husband and I met in a punk band. In a small-town bubble full of kids in baby doll T-shirts and baggy jeans, wallet chains and gauged earrings, Emily the Strange beanies with kitty ears, and the heavy bass thumping of Green Day, Good Charlotte, and Evanescence, I found myself drawn to this blond guy with eyeliner, an oversized leather jacket, and a tattoo of a skull with a mohawk, an homage to the punk band The Exploited.

He was different from the rest of the crowd: somehow a little edgier, a little wiser, a little more true to the nature of punk music. When his bass player moved away, a mutual friend suggested me as a replacement, and our fate was sealed. So, I guess it shouldn’t have been entirely surprising that collaborating again seventeen years later would be the glue that held us together when we almost fell apart.

Ten years ago, we found ourselves relatively happy living among the miscreant music scene in Denver, but unable to push our creative careers to the next level. The economy was terrible, and the city had not yet grown to be the Millennial mecca of small production companies and public art displays it is today. We quit our day jobs, left our beautiful downtown apartment, and moved to Los Angeles with the reckless abandon only newlywed 20-somethings with a dream and no money can confidently exhibit.

And, well … turns out it was hard.

At times, it’s been a Herculean effort to hold onto each other through the swirling tornado of highs and lows, including a roach-infested first apartment in Hollywood, getting fired from my first writing job, launching a score production business, and countless hours spent working on high-stress projects for free. Every decision we had to make for our own careers became a fight, and every fight became a huge question of whether we were going in the same direction.

After years of work laying a foundation on what felt like a bottomless swamp, then weathering a global pandemic, hunkered down in the perfect Laurel Canyon apartment, we had thankfully found shortly before the end of the world, things were looking up … until they weren’t. Job changes and financial insecurities opened a pandora’s box of old wounds that suddenly turned 2023 into an unexpected low point for us.

My husband is a punk rock musician-turned-composer, and I’m a producer-turned-writer, both of us choosing professions that moved us away from focusing on other peoples’ visions and allowed us to create our own. Our paths have run parallel to one another, sharing some similarities, maybe, but never intersecting. Because writing comes at the very beginning of a project and music comes at the very end, we had never had a chance to creatively cross paths until, frustrated with an industry that keeps scripts in limbo for years at a time, I pivoted to a different format and published a book of short stories. He saw the care I was putting into every detail of my precious new creation, from the outlining, writing, and editing to original artwork, cover design, font, and layout and had an idea to take it all to the next level: we’d record them as narrative audio dramas so each can have an original score. Brilliant.

It was a lot of work—and I mean A LOT of work—to record, edit, score, polish, and market a whole series in the midst of the book launch, multiple survival jobs, and a historic double-strike that grounded the entertainment industry to a near halt. Much of the work was done at the faintest hint of the dawn, squeezed into thirty-minute lunch breaks, or hunched over the kitchen table at midnight. And it was a lot to manage when the stress of the industry had taken a toll and things between us were the rockiest they had been in years.

But something truly amazing happened: none of the drama, either at home or in the industry, affected our work together. No matter how hard the day had been or how frustrated we were with each other, we never took it out on the project. Not once. Every time we needed to brainstorm, set up a new session in ProTools, discuss a music cue, listen through an episode, go through notes, make revisions, listen through it again, and release an episode out into the world, it just faded away.

It would have made sense for us to discuss boundaries between work and married life, to set up an invisible force field that would have kept the problems outside of our home recording studio, but we never even found it necessary.

The work told us what needed to be done, and we listened.

The scores came together, and one by one, we graciously posted them to cyberspace and announced them to the world.

Every time we released an episode, it was a collective win, a testament to our teamwork and a chance to brag about each other’s brilliance and talent. We high-fived, we hugged, we complimented each other, and we smiled. Then we fought. And then we focused on the next episode. And then, somewhere, somehow, the fighting stopped.

It is very difficult for two artists to live together, each of us hyper-focusing on our work and enduring the egregiously low wages amidst the constantly escalating cost-of-living crisis. But it’s a rare and exceptional gift to be able to share a creative pursuit with the person you love most in the world.

Ultimately, a marriage is like a career in the arts: it’s full of compromise. We face disappointment over and over again. We put up with too much. We get tired and feel we have little to give. We want to feel seen and validated. We frequently have to check our egos.

And we do it all for love.

*Feature Photo: Jessica and Robinton Hobbs

Jessica Hobbs is a film, TV and nonfiction writer with a love of the strange and unusual. Her first book, The Witch and Other Tales of the American Gothic, debuted in 2023. She lives in Laurel Canyon.
More posts by Jessica Hobbs.
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