There’s something about making a commitment to care about someone else’s needs above my own that has a profound effect on the way I make decisions. Exchanging wedding vows didn’t just change my living arrangements, though sharing a closet is definitely a compromise I wasn’t prepared for. It didn’t just impact my budget, though thank the Lord for a single mortgage payment. Becoming a wife added a very important step to my decision-making process. It added the step where I actively look at the way each and every choice will effect someone else. That step has made all the different in my work performance.
Let me first say that not everyone needs a kick in the butt like marriage to begin to consider other people’s needs. Plenty of single ladies are able to do that without wearing a white dress. And I know that there are bachelors out there who care about others and bring thoughtfulness to their choices. I’m not trying to belittle any of those people when I say that marriage made me acutely aware of weighing someone else’s needs first.
Considering that I was a mother before I was married, it’s easy to assume that I was comfortable putting someone else’s needs above my own. After all, isn’t that one of the biggest parts of motherhood? That whole idea of your heart now walking around outside your body? Demoting yourself in the rank of your own priorities is definitely a part of motherhood, though it’s worth mentioning that these things are rarely either/or issues and never that simplistic, but it’s also decided the minute you give birth. From that moment on, you’ll have a child whose needs go above your own. Marriage, on the other hand, is a continued choice that you have to keep prioritizing. It’s a choice that many people are reversing nowadays.
Being married in an active sense takes a series of choices, every day and no matter what the occasion, where you have to weigh someone else’s feelings and needs. My practice in doing so with my husband led to more considerate decision-making in every area of my life, including work.
How often before had I went full throttle at a project that I was excited on without considering what exactly the customer would want from it? Or my bosses? I got energized by my own ideas and interests and I would start working before thinking about my project’s usefulness to others. Then, after my work was done and I was proud of my accomplishment, I would get feedback from others and adjust accordingly. But in the beginning, it was also a solo project that got evaluated for other’s inputs later.
After marriage, my first instinct is to imagine someone else’s perception. I think about how the project looks from another angle before I start working. Not only does it take less time, it makes the project more inclusive from the beginning.
There are other easy lessons to point out about delegating, sharing tasks and compromising. Of course those are important parts of both work and marriage. They are also things you can learn by living with another person, being a member of a big family. They are things that most people pick up from interacting with other human beings, no matter what the relationship is.
The idea of reprioritizing your own opinion is such a unique one to marriage, especially insomuch as it’s a choice you have to continue to make over and over again. That choice and that commitment has really helped me to naturally look at issues and ideas from other angles. It helps me consider someone else’s needs, whether it’s my spouse’s or my customer’s. And all in all, I think it has made me personally, a better worker and employee.
We all pull different life lessons from our own experiences. What helped you learn to see from another perspective? Was it a romantic relationship, a close friend or family member, or maybe something else?