Claudia Kahn
(above, Paul Burrell & Maria Cosgrove)

One of the most interesting types of placements we make at The Help Company is the estate or domestic couple. Sometimes clients come to us specifically looking for a team. Why? Some people think that if you give a couple a position, they have a possibility that they might stay with you longer, it could be less expensive, they won’t be lonely, they have a large estate and they need a lot of help, and other assorted reasons.

I have fluctuated in my thoughts about this type of placement for many reasons.  First of all, as with any relationship or marriage, there are always fights, or conflicts, so imagine being together 24/7, at work and at play.  It takes a very special relationship between two people to be able to manage their emotions, and not to let them affect their work. To keep their relationship healthy, and in turn, keep their boss happy, they need to be able to compromise and keep their relationship under wraps during work hours.   So that both relationships flourish – the couple to the principle, and the couple to each other – the roles need to be firmly established!  The lines of work need not to be blurred whatsoever. This means that one of the partners will be the house manager, the other the chef, one needs to manage the summer house, the other the main residence; one needs to be the property manager, the other the chauffeur.  I am sure you get my drift – define your roles and keep them separate!

There are so many roles in the home that a couple team with different roles isn’t too difficult to achieve, and could come in nearly endless configurations. One might be a manager, the other a chef. One might be the property manager and one might be the executive housekeeper in charge of the housekeepers. One might be a housekeeper and the other a handyman. There are so many roles in the home that a couple team could come in nearly endless configurations.

Right now I’m doing 2 different searches for couples – one is more managerial and one is more hands on. The couples we place could be a husband and wife, or it could be 2 men — doesn’t matter.

Maybe the most famous of domestic couple is the example of Paul Burrell and Maria Cosgrove, who met working together at Buckingham Palace. The queen made a special exception and let this extraordinary couple both remain working at the palace even after they married, although royal custom would normally only allow one to remain. Burrell would go on to become Princess Diana’s personal butler.  It is still a question whether this was a good or bad idea.

As touchy as these set-ups may be, we do love it when things work out – especially when successful couples meet at work! Workplace romance in the domestic world is very common — you’re in an intimate home setting, working as a family almost from the get-go. So it’s no surprise. One couple we know well met working for a famous Hollywood director, who shall remain nameless. He was the chef on the yacht and she was the second maid. They now run separate estates for the family after having met on the job – one of the best couple success stories I know. I’d love to hear more examples of romance in the domestic workplace, how it happened, whether it worked out, and if it did, what the magic formula was.