Nina Godiwalla on Why Mutual Respect Matters in a Marriage

In Chapter 21 of 22 in her 2011 Capture Your Flag interview, author Nina Godiwalla answers "Why is Mutual Respect Important in a Marriage?"  Godiwalla, who had a child amidst the process of publishing her first book, finds mutual respect for things she and her partner both want in life fundamental to their wellbeing.  She shares how this mutual respect is key to achieving a manageable and meaningful work-life balance.  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:  Why is mutual respect important in a marriage?

Nina Godiwalla:  Well, I think it depends what you want to accomplish and what you want out of your marriage but you know one of the things that I’ve gotten so much from for a lot of people have said to me is, I had a baby while – right when I had – in the middle of having a book and I’ve had so many people say to me “Oh, I don’t understand how you did it all.  Like how are you able to do both?”  And I remember growing up, I used to go to these women’s conferences and I’ve never – never been very excited about marriage or having kids because to me I was always – I was so career oriented but I had this fear that once that would come like a husband and a child it would take away from my career life and I remember being in these conferences and you know women’s conferences and having women say it’s true like they just you know once you have the kids, it all falls on you, so much of it falls on you and I’ve always had this fear that it would – having a kid would take you know kind of the excitement of my life away. 

And what I’ve realized is, one, I married a person that in the end I wasn’t going to get married unless I had somebody who completely was inline with what I wanted and there is that and it’s not just mutual respect it’s mutual respect for the things that you both want out of life and I find that a lot of people that say that they have it all, that they never worked that out with their partner to some extent or their partner doesn’t have that mindset of you know I see that these are the three critical things for you let’s see how we can work on them together and my husband is an exceptional person in general but he makes everything – he makes everything possible.  I mean we both have difficult travel schedules and he never says “Well, you know you’re supposed to be here this week and I’m supposed to be here this week this just isn’t going to work.”  He’s always like “Okay, let’s sit down.  Let’s sit down and talk about how we make this work.”  I mean I fell in love with him and then he just happened to be this person that wanted to work everything out and he works out things you know even better than I can even think of. 

I think sometimes “Well, yeah, like one of us can’t go or you know we can’t figure this out.”  But we always seem to make things work and we have this respect in understanding that you know first things first, is our child is going to be in good hands.  Whether it’s with him or the child is with me or we have incredible grandparents that are always around so we – we make it work and there is this understanding that what’s important to you is important to me because if I don’t keep you happy you know I’m not going to be happy either and I find that people that say that they don’t have it all or that there’s no way to do it all, part of it is maybe you know maybe the goals aren’t realistic, I don’t know what their goals are but also I don’t know that there is a mutual respect on both sides for, you know what when I married you, you didn’t want – you only wanted two things and now you want three things.  Well, we just move with the flow.  It’s like okay, well you changed what you wanted but how do I still do things to keep you happy. And I don’t know that everyone really goes of their way to do that for the other person.