Your Job is to Support Your Spouse

We’ve talked before about the pioneering life of Sandra Day O’Connor—the groundbreaking Supreme Court Justice. Although she might have projected a very tough, take no prisoners attitude, in truth, she had fears and doubts like all the rest of us. And she succeeded, as all successful parents do, with the help of a supporting cast.

When first called and offered the bench, O’Connor’s heart sank. “I had a very happy life in Arizona,” she reflects in Evan Thomas’ wonderful biography, First. “I was a judge. I liked my lifestyle. I liked my family. I liked where we lived and I didn’t want to move to Washington D.C.”

“You have to do it,” her husband said in encouragement. He calmed her doubts, he reassured her. And most of all, he sacrificed. He had to leave the career he had built. He agreed to move. He agreed to avoid lucrative cases that would have presented conflicts of interests. Most of all, he had to accept a—then much more unusual gender role—being much less important or powerful than his wife.

In so doing, he allowed her to be great. We’ve talked about how our job as parents is to help our kids become who they are. This is also our role as spouses. Man or woman, gay or straight, we have to support, we have to sacrifice, we have to be willing to change, we have to help them reach their destiny. We have to model this for our kids too.

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