How Do They Do It?

Balancing full-time, professional careers with the romance and responsibilities of marriage can be challenging. These four locals share their favorite tips for prioritizing their relationship and offer insight into the arduous but worthwhile journey of love and success.


Danna Vaughn and husband on balancing work and relationships in chattanoogaDanna Vaughn

Assistant Police Chief at Chattanooga Police Department
Married 16 years to Captain Nathan Vaughn

We are very intentional with our marriage. We plan regular date nights, attend marriage enrichment sessions, and seek opportunities for spiritual growth. We utilize opportunities through First Things First as well. We love camping, kayaking, jet skiing, and traveling – most anything outdoors. When our marriage is healthy, most other things can be easily balanced out!

Julie Baumgardener on balancing work and relationships in chattanoogaJulie Baumgardner

President and CEO at First Things First
Married 28 years to Jay Baumgardner

Since we’ve been married, eating dinner together has been a priority. It gives us a chance to catch up on each other’s world and to stay connected, especially in the insanely busy times. We also walk together almost every evening. It started out as a necessity to exercise our dog. When our daughter came along, she enjoyed it too so we kept on walking. Four dogs later with our daughter out on her own, and we are still walking. There has been plenty of laughter, intensity, and just light chatter on those walks. We aren’t perfect by a long shot, but I think both of us would say, these have helped us stay close and keep perspective about what really matters in this world.

Elizabeth Hammitt on balancing work and relationships in chattanoogaElizabeth Hammitt

Director of Environmental Stewardship and Community at EPB Fiber Optics
Married 6 years to Chris Hammitt

We don’t aim for work life balance so much as work life integration. We both have important goals that we are working toward, and sometimes it doesn’t all fit in from eight to five, so we do our best to communicate what we need from each other ahead of time. With a small child in the picture, we support each other by listening, splitting housework and childcare, and taking turns napping. That’s love!

Janet Dunn on balancing work and relationships in chattanoogaJanet Dunn

Married 38 years to Rick Dunn

I feel blessed to have been able to find someone that supports me and our family, who values commitment, and who is truly my best friend. It certainly has not been without ups and downs, but we’ve been able to handle them – together. And that is what makes the difference: together. We try not to take the small things too seriously. Ask yourself, in five years is this really going to matter? I’ve found that as the years go by those small things are not important and are definitely not deal breakers!