I extend my arm towards my wife, give her a thumbs-up, and tell her, “I married well!”
She hates it, which makes me want to do it more.
And I do. Whenever she walks into a room, and I’m reminded of how awesome she is, I jokingly extend my arm towards her, give her a thumbs up and tell her, “I married well.”
‘Marrying well’ was always very important to me. It was the first thing I wanted to figure out before figuring out the rest of my life. I always saw my love selection as the chink that could bring the fortress down. Or keep it strong.
My Rhetorical Criticism teacher used to say that our actions and not our words reflect our real values.
Things are a little more complex than that, as it is easy to prioritize the wrong things without thinking or out of ignorance of ourselves and others. We might have specific values in high esteem, but we get lost in the shuffle, and we end up acting mindlessly, prioritizing by mistake values that we would care about if we were more aware of them.
However, actions are typically a good clue of what we are prioritizing. So that job you are spending 70 hours at might lead to a promotion, but if you are spending no time with your family, that might lead to resentment from your spouse even divorce or estrangement from your kids.
I never wanted to prioritize work over my family. In Colombia, I saw too many hardworking adults be replaced at work by younger eager professionals graduating from college eager to take on more for less. It was a ruthless windmill of ageist workforce replacement.
The country back then had no protections against the aging workforce, so inevitably these people, at the dawn of their lives, found themselves struggling to keep full employment before forced meager retirement.
That’s not a commentary on anything other than for work. We are nothing but a statistic, a body to warm a seat, a numerical symbol on a quarterly report. Even in a company with a supportive culture that genuinely cares about you, if you die tomorrow, you would be missed but replaced. But in your family, you are irreplaceable, and that should be enough to always prioritize our relationships above your work. At least, it is for me.
Now, I can’t say I started on this line of thought myself. Nietzsche got me going on it. The preface to ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ talks about how he saw one of his most talented friends marry someone who wasn’t good for him and how that meant doomed to the man.
I was only fifteen then, but I took that to heart. Yes, I read Nietzsche at fifteen; that’s why I am a pain in the neck.
It seems so simple but so true. If you spend all your life with someone by your side, it makes sense that you need to choose someone remarkable or, at least, someone who supports you.
My wife is the most compassionate and kind human being I have ever met. She is one of those rare individuals in the world that is hypermoral. The type that will always do right even when such actions come at a cost to her. She has taught me many lessons about kindness and coming from a country where body shaming and skin shaming are still a thing; let me tell you that there were plenty of lessons to learn.
I also see her struggle with what I consider are her gifts. Instead of filling her with pride, they make her feel like there is no room for her in this individualistic culture. I try to assure her that what she brings to the world is much needed than anything else we have right now.
I believe it.
The rise in popularity from the #metoo movement was exciting to see.
First, it showed us that there are still plenty of pigs out there that need to be eliminated, that there is still a need for more equitable treatment of women everywhere, and that we need to address wage and power inequalities at the workplace.
But for me, it was exciting because I thought it was marking the advent of a different type of leadership; leadership based on compassion and kindness.
Instead, it seems that it has been yet another movement that corporate America has recognized through performative compliance.
We keep heralding and admiring the same ruthlessness and aggressiveness that has gotten us where we are right now, but the vessel containing those qualities is different, which somehow makes it okay.
So we might placate the crowds demanding change by putting women at the helm of a corporation. But we are not seeing that the shareholders are placated, too, because those women in command can be just as ruthless as the men that were in those positions before.
And we keep on moving through the cycles without really seeing that what we need is a more feminine type of leadership, one that is more likely to come from a woman that is contemplative and kind and compassionate and reflective.
That’s where our biggest opportunities lie as a society: to ensure that we are handing off the reigns of this horse to the women that can lead us into a more inclusive future.
That would be the day when we could extend our arms towards our leaders and politicians, give them a thumbs up and tell them, “we elected well!”