Marriage and children are often the harbingers of sacrifice – usually in the form of one partner’s career, more often than not the woman’s. Yet, there are couples who manage to have it all: a spouse, children and a full-time, high-powered professional life. HOME Magazine spoke to two such wonder couples, who demonstrate that to shine as a duo does not require a complex secret formula; all you need is to be committed, organized and supportive.
The Yaraks, Joumana and Fadi, work in separate fields.
Fadi Yarak has served as the Director General for Education in the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education since 2007. His career in public service delivery, and social and economic development spans over two decades, including advisory and field-based work across the education, health, and social services sectors. In 2016, Fadi Yarak was awarded the rank of Chevalier in the French National Order of Merit, in recognition of his contribution to the education sector, and in 2017, the rank of Commandeur in the Spanish National Order of Merit. Joumana is a media communication professional. She has been active on the Lebanese market since 2003, implementing various communication assignments. She is the Founder (in 2008) and Managing Director of MIRROS Communication & Media Services. She specializes in designing and executing communication strategies for both the public and private sectors. The fields include arts and culture, social and development. She also has wide experience in advocacy campaigns. They are both proud of their two children.
Dr Ziad Massaad and Dr Mary Chammas Massaad met whilst training to become doctors. Today they are both highly regarded specialists in their respective fields of medicine.
Dr Ziad Massaad is an infertility specialist and the head of ‘IVF Lebanon.’ He completed his medical studies at St Joseph University followed by residency training at the American University of Beirut. He then trained in the US on assisted reproductive technologies. He is also part of the Lebanese American University medical center team and is active in student teaching and research.
Dr Mary Chammas Massaad is an obstetrician gynecologist and maternal fetal medicine specialist on staff at the St George Balamand university hospital. She did her medical and residency training at the American University of Beirut followed by three years’ subspecialty at the University of Illinois in Chicago, where she also obtained a master’s in Public Health. She is currently involved in both clinical and academic activities at the hospital. She and her husband are proud parents of three children.
“With every success comes a different celebration, but the best is when we buy a piece of art!”
How do you manage balancing quality time together as a couple and with family while maintaining two very successful careers as well?
Dr Mary Chammas: It’s a matter of organization. One has to delegate and prioritize with as little compromise as possible. When the kids were little, I spent every non-working moment with them but always had a backup plan in case of emergencies. I also managed to spend one-on-one time with my husband by going on short trips with him.
Dr Ziad Massaad: We do find quality time on weekends, and during evenings and holidays.
Joumana & Fady Yarak: Life is made up of little moments and we try to have those little quality moments, such as a drive from Beirut to the mountains, evening board games with the kids, preparing dinner together at HOME with a new recipe. A regular breakfast is also essential, during which we have quality time, and on some weekends we go on walks to discover the beauty of Lebanon.
How did you enter into marriage? Were you both career-driven and what stage were your respective careers at when you met?
Dr Mary & Dr Ziad Massaad: We met during our residency training and then spent some time apart pursuing our respective subspecialties, knowing that we would both be working full-time. I remember Ziad telling me that he couldn’t imagine a stay-at-HOME wife nagging him all day!
Joumana Yarak: I had an art gallery and was busy with artists.
Fady Yarak: I was in the field of social and economic development and working with the UN.
Where do you compromise and/ or sacrifice in balancing your relationship and your professional lives?
Dr Mary Chammas: I compromise by setting some limits to my working hours but staying on call for emergencies. I also do not cook for my kids but delegate that. I sacrifice when I have to leave a dinner because of work, or refuse one because I’m too tired.
Dr Ziad Massaad: No sacrifice at all.
Joumana & Fadi Yarak: Family for both of us is a priority so there is no compromise when it comes to the essential issues and our common values.
How important are you to each other’s professional success?
Dr Mary Chammas: I think we support and encourage each other, are proud of each other and accept the time we have to sacrifice. Also our work is complementary in some ways so we can collaborate on some levels.
Dr Ziad Massaad: I’m always happy for my wife’s success.
Joumana & Fadi Yarak: Very important since the support is unconditional and many decisions are taken after taking the other’s advice. We are a team even if we both work in different fields.
Have you ever been envious of your partner’s success?
Dr Maya Chammas: Not at all. We’re not in competition and we’re proud of each other. We are both part of a family team.
Dr Ziad Massaad: Not at all jealous, I am proud.
Joumana & Fadi Yarak: No, in fact we are proud of each other.
Have you been envious of couples who are less career-driven?
Dr Maya Chammas: Envious, no… but having a bit more free time would be nice sometimes.
Dr Ziad Massaad: Not at all, I feel happier than most people.
Joumana & Ziad Yarak: No, never thought about it.
Question for him
Wouldn’t you prefer having a more relaxed life with a wife who doesn’t have a career?
Dr Ziad Massaad: No, I want her to work and be successful and happy.
Fadi Yarak: A relaxed life: yes. With a wife who does not have a career: no.
“There’s no room for selfishness and laziness.”
Question for her
Why didn’t you choose to live in the shadow of your husband, especially as he is successful?
Dr Mary Chammas: I cannot imagine being completely dependent on someone. I think both men and women need to have their own professional lives, apart from their spouses. I go to work because I enjoy it and I’m proud of what I do. The fact that my husband is successful and I don’t need to work never made me think of stopping. I work for my own satisfaction.
Joumana Yarak: Although we have separate careers, we are shadowing each other. It is so natural to back each other up and our paths always meet.
Dr Mary Chammas
What was your conception of work-life balance before getting married? Is it still the same?
Dr Mary Chammas: I didn’t know what having a family was like until I did. Before this, life was about me, work and my husband. I find the difficulty is when kids become part of the equation. We both worked before as a couple, so that’s OK most of the time.
Dr Ziad Massaad: It’s as I expected.
Joumana & Fadi Yarak: Yes, still the same.
Dr Ziad Massaad
What advice would you give your child regarding this subject?
Dr Mary Chammas: Life is a juggling act. One has to set one’s priorities and balance things. But one’s career is part of who one is, so that’s not negotiable.
Dr Ziad Massaad: That they work, I wish success for my daughter and my sons.
Joumana & Fadi Yarak: Everything you do, do it with love, passion and professionalism, and keep your hobbies alive – meaning give time to the things you like to do!
How do you celebrate when one of you achieves something remarkable at work?
Dr Mara Chammas & Dr Ziad Massaad: We say congratulations as it is another step forward.
Joumana & Fadi Yara: It depends! With every success comes a different celebration, but the best is when we buy a piece of art!
Did you both always crave a high-powered successful career, or was it something that just happened?
Dr Mary Chammas: For me it just happened. I got into the medical field because I liked it, not fully knowing how it would affect my life.
Dr Ziad Massaad: I always aimed for success and worked hard to achieve it.
Joumana & Fadi Yarak: When we work with professionalism and commitment we always move forward and succeed.
Do you ever think of leaving your job? To retire or to pursue an entirely different path?
Dr Mary Chammas: Never leaving, but maybe slowing down later and enjoying other things.
Dr Ziad Massaad: Never think of stopping, I enjoy it and want to always keep growing.
Joumana Yarak: No.
Fadi Yarak: Yes, sometimes.
How do you unwind after a long day/ week/month at work?
Dr Mary Chammas: Going out with friends… taking short trips away… yoga.
Dr Ziad Massaad: Traveling gives me a break.
Joumana & Fadi Yarak: A walk in the mountains and away from the phone to completely disconnect.
What do you consider your greatest achievement as a couple?
Dr Mary Chammas: Our family and our professional success… achieving the two.
Dr Ziad Massaad: My family and kids.
Joumana & Fadi Yarak: That we have found the balance between work and family and are enjoying it.
What advice would you give an ambitious young couple, eager to succeed both in family life and at work?
Dr Mary Chammas: Both need to be ready to work hard and compromise and sacrifice. There’s no room for selfishness and laziness.
Dr Ziad Massaad: One should continue one’s own work and career whether one gets married or not. Marriage is not a reason to stop!
Joumana & Fadi Yarak: Respect each other’s space and always communicate.