If ’90s sitcoms are to be believed, then marriage is largely a practice in strategic avoidance. As Roseanne, Married… with Children and Everybody Loves Raymond taught us—with their bickering, eye rolls and slights mumbled under sighs—married couples should try not to rock the boat and should certainly never, under any circumstances, work together. But, for playwright Jason Odell Williams and wife Charlotte Cohn, whose lives both orbit the all-consuming world of theater, working together has become a regular part of their functional marriage, yielding collaborative bounty rather than rankling resentment. In their case, couples that work together stay together.

Williams and Cohn first met in graduate school, each of them seeking degrees in theatre. Cohn would make her way into the highly competitive Broadway scene in NYC, while Williams would find his work in regional theatrer less than satisfying. “I wasn’t really vibing with it,” he says, “so I asked Charlotte, ‘If I wrote something, what kind of role would you want to play?’” She wanted to play a character that was misunderstood, so, in 2011, following this passing conversation, Williams penned a hybrid rom-com/holiday play called Handle With Care in which the female lead was tailor-made for the strengths of Cohn.

The play’s story follows an Israeli woman named Ayelet (Cohn is half Israeli) who comes to America under mysterious circumstances. It opens with a scene in which Ayelet is yelling in Hebrew at a delivery driver that must call on his only Jewish friend named Josh to help decode her ranting. “I think Ayelet reflects Charlotte’s personality in that Israeli women are fiery,” says Williams. “That’s absolutely true,” says Cohn after a hearty laugh. “We tend to speak our mind.” And Cohn, who speaks Hebrew, Danish, Italian and English, also wrote all of the Hebrew dialogue. “It all fits her acting style and strengths,” says Williams. Though the parallels between Ayelet and Cohn stop there, the collaboration does not.

During unofficial living room workshop sessions and bedtime readings, Cohn helped Williams develop some of the play’s action, campaigning for a heightened sense of belabored communication between the two leads. “I trust her to only want the play to get better,” he says. “When we started working together on this play, I thought it would be a one-off thing,” says Williams, “but it never stopped.” Since Handle With Care, the pair have gone on to collaborate on just about every screenplay Williams has penned, including other successful plays like Church and State. And Cohn offers her expertise and support as actress, director, co-writer or in-house consultant for all of his work. “There are times, though, when I have to say ‘enough, at this time of night I am just your wife!’” she says.

And when Handle With Care opened in Naples’ Gulfshore Playhouse in 2011, the married pair had an unexpected opportunity to deepen their collaboration further. Cohn was set to debut the play as Ayelet, naturally, but when the actor cast for Josh had to bail days before opening night, the director was left scrambling. Williams, torn between his mild disdain for acting and his excitement for the play’s first production, offered to fill in. The director, perhaps traumatized by one too many episodes of Married… with Children, opted for the understudy instead. “I think it worked out for the best,” says Williams, who went on to star as Josh for a production in Sacramento’s B Street Theatre in 2015 (without Cohn, unfortunately).

Still, the two often wonder about what could have been. “I probably would’ve been close to breaking character the whole time,” says Williams, “but I still sort of regret we didn’t perform in the play together.” Cohn echoes that sentiment. “It would’ve been fun,” she says. “Couples can explore things onstage that other actors can’t.” Nonetheless, the play has enjoyed a long life since it was written, with more than 30 productions across the US since its debut, including a run at Florida Studio Theatre from December of last year to March of this year. The pair feel fortunate that a creation borne out of their passion for theater and love for each other has enjoyed so much success. And they both agree it has brought them closer together. “When married people keep their lives separate,” says Williams, “it just seems weird to me.”