How to Set Expectations in a Marriage - Nina Godiwalla

In Chapter 22 of 22 in her 2011 Capture Your Flag interview, author Nina Godiwalla answers "What Has Your Marriage Taught You About Sacrifice and Teamwork?"  She shares how she and her husband blend fiercely independent attitudes with a deep support for one another.  Godiwalla is the author of "Suits: A Woman on Wall Street".  She is also a public speaker on workplace diversity and founder and CEO of Mindworks, where she teaches mind-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques to help organizations improve employee wellbeing.  Godiwalla holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, an MA in Creative Writing from Dartmouth University and her BBA from the University of Texas at Austin. 


Erik Michielsen:  What has your marriage taught you about sacrifice and teamwork?

Nina Godiwalla:  Teamwork is important.  I definitely think teamwork is important. My marriage is very independent.  My husband and I, we pretty much do whatever we want whenever we want and I – we're both like incredibly stubborn people, we’re very like fiercely independent at the end of the day there’s nothing he could die without me for, there’s nothing I could die without having him for.  We just love being with each other and doing things together. 

People talk a lot about compromise and things you have to do and I feel like the compromises for us have not been huge at all.  We go out of our way for each other to make things work. The teamwork is, is wanting that other person to succeed in what they want in life at all times.  So we don’t have – one of the things is lifestyle.  We talk about all the time about lifestyle and part of it is, “Hey do we want this—do we want a big house or do we want that apartment down the street,” because right now maybe we both want to start up our own companies or we both want to do this and we’re so flexible.  There’s not – there’s no expectation, there’s no big expectations in our marriage other than I’m looking out for you and you look out for me.  There’s no expectation of you were supposed to bring in this much money this year.  There’s no expectation of you know I spent six hours with our son today so now you need to spend six hours.  It’s hey, what’s going on with you? Can we make this work? And when you have that other person always looking out for you there’s not a lot of threat of you know this is unfair or this didn’t happen and it does happen sometimes with us but we’ll just you know we’ll you know say to the other person like “Hey, I actually don’t think this is working out this way.” 

And when I hear people talk about like the difficulties of marriage or things like that it’s like, “Well, you know I have to cook every night, I have to do this every night.”  And we don’t even have that. Like nobody – if nobody cooks, nobody cooks.  If there’s no food I mean there’s – a lot of times there is no food.  It’s like you get your own food if you want to eat, you want to eat.  If we want to eat together then somebody might make something but there’s just – those expectations are so limited in my marriage that it just works for us.