The One Person Cheering Section

Over the last week, David took part in his first criminal trial. This is unrelated to his new job, and is, in fact, the last thing he was working on as part of the volunteer public interest law work he’s been doing since September, but regardless, it was a big deal. He’d championed this case, spent hours researching it, talking it over, and meeting with the client. He’d even put off starting a paying job to work on it. (What can I say? Public interest law doesn’t pay quite as well—though you’ll never hear me say it pays poorly—but it’s passionate work.)

So last week, thanks to my flexible working hours (yay APW), I hied myself down to the courthouse at 8am, and after an hour or so of working on the site from the cafe, I was off to watch David do his first direct examination in front of a jury.

Well. I was off to watch David do his first real direct examination in front of a jury. Because, you see, due to a wonky twist of fate, I’m married to the person who led my High School Mock Trial Team’s defense. I lead the prosecution. (I will still tell you that I was better than David, my pseudo nemesis, and he will still tell you he was better than me. The record only shows that we got the same vast number of awards, and I made the court laugh more often, while he leaned towards seriousness.) At the end of the day, someone asked if it was weird to see my husband arguing in front of the jury, and I said, “No. It was just weird to see him arguing in front of the jury for real.”

But what really was intense was to see David doing work that was going to change the course of someone’s life (for better or for worse). To see him help defend a case he really believed in, to see the defendant look at him with trust, to see the defendant smile at me with relief at the end of a long day of testimony.

Because let me tell you straight out: I was a terrible law school girlfriend (and later wife). You hear tales of partners who listened intensely to the discussions had in class, who formed opinions on case law, who knew the ins and outs of each paper their partner was writing. I was not one of those people. I wasn’t even good at it socially. I mean, how many times can a person have a “Who is your favorite Supreme Court Justice?” conversation over drinks? The answer was always Stevens (the bowtie, he didn’t like his neighbors to know what his job was, he was a self-proclaimed conservative leading the liberal flank…) and then he had to go and retire, leaving me to say, “Breyer? Ginsberg? Oh, for f*cks sake, will someone pass the margaritas.”

So it came as a delight to me that I am, in fact, quite good at being a criminal attorney’s wife. I’d quit my job and move into the courtroom whenever David had a trial, if I didn’t think that would be profoundly odd behavior. I can give notes on staging a closing argument director style (all that theatre education being put to work). I will pound the table. I will give you my opinion on juror number six. I will have another shot and tell you that you’re going to win this thing. (Though dear God, don’t make me pick a favorite justice.)

This week made me think about marriage. It made me think about how, for us, one of the things we’ve always done best is be each other’s cheering squads. Arguably, I knew I was going to marry David because he made me feel like I could accomplish anything, and always helped give me the tools to do it. Hell, APW was his idea. He even thought up the name (though the work has been all mine). Married life allows us to provide a foundation of support for each other, a foundation that never lets our partners give up, and a foundation of cheering each other on.

This week was a good week. I got to cheer David and team on, tequila shot in hand. And that made law school feel worth it.

Picture: Self Portrait of us, Mexico

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  • Yea Meg & David! Yea Support!! Yea Love!!!

    Between your inspiring words about women asking for what they deserve in the workplace ( a post from yesteryear) and the support of my fiance I asked for a raise this year and inturn he has been inspired to ask for a raise too! Loving support can make you do things you never thought.

    • Hurray for support! Love it. Love love love it. And how awesome you’re able to see David kick butt in court Meg; just makes me smile.

      Of all the times F. has demanded that I stick up for myself (demanding a higher starting salary and then a raise, expecting I stand up to my family, etc) I think my favorite was this morning:

      me: “But I just want to bring easy food so we can contribute and I don’t get stuck in the kitchen all weekend. Somehow that’s what women do and I don’t wanna.” (I think I actually used the whiny “wanna.”)
      F.: “Then make it easy, get yourself a damn beer and come out with the guys.”
      me: “And you’ll do our share of the dishes?”
      F. “No question mark and I’ll do it.”

      • FawMo

        “No question mark and I’ll do it.”

        This guy rocks!

  • raahhh!! cheers to you two. and to tequila–!

  • Yup, it’s the best. This has very much been my experience. We are always egging each other on to be better, in whatever shape and form that will take.

  • Jillian

    Oh I can so relate to being a bad law school fiance. Everytime we get together with friends (all law school friends in our city) allll they want to talk about is this class, or this weird professor, or what they’re taking next semester or who’s taking the Patent Bar or …it can be draining after awhile. And yes, he has to remind me all the time the names of the classes he takes, because try as I might, I just can’t remember them. But even though we can’t remember the inane law details like that, just being supportive is enough. I work in publishing, so my fiance always has me proofread his papers and edit for grammar/spelling which I know he appreciates. When you’re writing briefs until the wee hours of the morning on your 3rd pot of coffee, sometimes basic grammar takes a hit.

    I really love when you post about your dealings with your husband’s career choice and how that affects your relationship. My fiance has one more year to go, then it’s out into that scary place known as the Job Market. We have no idea where he’ll end up or if we’ll have to move and I’ll have to change jobs…oh and you know, we’re getting married 1 month after he takes the Bar. Thank you for continuing to share how you deal with David’s career path and yours…it helps me see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  • My fiance was in mock trial as well! Because my school didn’t have a team, and I couldn’t convince anyone to start it, I always went and cheered him on.

  • LPC

    Go you. Go both of you. It is my belief that this may be the single most important thing in marriage – each being the other person’s truest and biggest fan. The rest sort of comes out in the wash.

  • Brianne

    I’m always proud of my husband’s success at work but I’m never exactly sure what he does. (Product Manager for a web sales company, so he designs how the site should look and then hands it off to the tech people, I think.) But since he’s the new guy there, I got to meet his supervisor’s at the company Christmas party last year and they all gushed about him. It was awesome.

    And my favorite Supreme Court Justice is definitely Breyer. He has a great sense of humor and he was on “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” a couple years ago. Apparently, the newest member of the Court gets hazed until the next judge gets selected, unless the next judge is the Chief Justice. That’s what happened to Breyer. He was low man on the totem pole for a long time and then Roberts comes along and he’s STILL low man.

  • mandy

    Oh I am so on the same wavelength! This week we are TAKING THE LEAP on the next step to start our farm! But it isn’t like I thought it would work out, with me quitting my job and taking on some freelance work so I’d be able to focus on the next stages of the plan while he kept the full-time job, it was my husband who gave notice (after we talked about it at length, of course). And while I thought I’d freak out about the decreased security or whether I’d be able to oversee the coming together of details, turns out I’m behind him 100%! Emailing him inspirational quotes while he eeks out the last 7 days of his job, pouring that third glass of wine and telling him how much ass he’s going to kick at finding us the perfect property. It’s been kind of a huge deal to learn I don’t have to control everything. And he’s a gazillion times happier!

  • Anon

    What about when you want to stick up for you fiance because he doesn’t do it himself? What if he works at a job with bosses who s#!t on him but he is so loyal and truly loves what he is doing? What if you know he could have more of a leadership role and a more pleasant work experience if he just stood up to them?

    What are you supposed to do when you tell your fiance this and he argues FOR his s#!t bosses, making excuses for them and down playing the verbal abuse?

    I know he could be happier and do more, and it is so frustrating that he doesn’t advocate for himself. I can cheer my heart out but what I REALLY want to do is b!tc# slap someone!

    • Rowany

      Maybe get him a book or send him an article to show how that can be detrimental to him and his career. My PI got the book “Women don’t ask” for every student in the lab, and the one who needed it the most was a guy! Their sequel, “Ask for it” has great tips on standing up for yourself without seeming too cocky or playing the alpha-male game. I highly recommend both books to everyone, they’re life-changing.

      • Anon

        Thank you, suggestion appreciated! :)

    • charm city vixen

      Sometimes it takes a while for the information to sink in… For me, I just had to constantly point out discrepancies in a loving manner, like “Hey, why does X happen to you when you are always so polite and doing Y?”

      Eventually, after my loving nudges, he realized for himself that he wasn’t being treated fairly. Now, in our case it was different — he has a great job, wonderful bosses, and loves what he does. It was about how his emotionally/verbally abusive ex-wife treats him (he still has to deal with her due to kids). For him, there were almost 10 years of emotional abuse to see through, and it took a while for him to gain that new perspective to do it.

      He now sticks up for himself with very little interference on my end. And really, neither of us could be happier with how the situation turned out :)

  • secret reader

    haha, my partner is in the position of pretty much weekly having to remind me that my fall grad school plans are a great idea, are exciting, that I’m not dumb, and that it’ll turn out well for me.

    go cheering sections!

    • Ohhh, yes. I applied to graduate programs this winter, both full time and part time, and when I told my husband my secret wish of going to school full time and quitting my job… he said yes. He is in grad school to get his PhD and is earning a small stipend, but with me going to school full time, we will be officially Broke Ass. It might push back some of our plans a year or so, but he’s encouraging me anyway. Scary! Exciting! Awesome!

  • B

    I completely agree with you Meg, and LPC– supporting one another is HUGE. Because we all want someone in our corner, and if our spouse isn’t, who is?

  • Hooray! :)

  • Hell yes.

  • Mmm, that’s so great to hear (okay, read. Whatever.)

    I’m a bit selfish in this regard, I hate to say. I’m so incredibly happy that my husband has found something that he loves, especially since he floundered about for a while when we first relocated. He’s really great at what he does and sees a lot of opportunity in the line of work.

    And — let’s be honest — the money is pretty good.

    While I’m more than happy for him on a personal level, it’s not really working out great for us, I don’t think, and our relationship. Largely because of me and my hangups, admittedly. I feel guilty for encouraging him while still having reservations about how it’s affecting me and dammit, why can’t I just go with it and get on board?!? Anyhoo, it’s a struggle.

    • Anon

      My fiance’s job has caused a lot of stress and anxiety in our relationship. He works as a night life professional and is very frequently surrounded by drunken skanky debauchery, which can feel very threatening.

      I think you have to figure out what about your job is keeping you from getting on board, and then work out a balance. Is it that he spends a lot of time away? Is it the environment he’s in? Make sure you two dedicate specific time to nurturing your relationship so that you can feel secure, despite his job.

    • Tamsin

      I know what you mean, Kimberley. My husband and I are in the same situation and as much as I love that he is working in a job he is passionate about, I often feel like he is taking me (and my support) for granted, or maybe it’s not even that he takes me for granted, he just doesn’t seem to see how much effort I put into supporting him, being there for him and even building my daily schedule around him so that we can spend time together. I know he loves his job but I find it extremely difficult sometimes to cheer for him and be excited for him. And it doesn’t help that we are working in the same field but while he has been doing this for years I only started freelancing last year.

      I don’t think there is a miracle cure for these kind of relationship problems. What seems to work for me is try and give those feelings a name (are you angry? sad? do you feel neglected? do you envy him because he is doing what he loves?) and why you are feeling this way (are you afraid you are losing him? do you feel he is taking you for granted? that he is not appreciating your efforts to make the relationship work? do you feel like you are the one who is always ‘available’ while he is going off on his great adventures? do you need him to (verbally) reassure you that he loves you more often? etc). Once I have found out what bothers me I mill things over in my head a coupe of times and then I try and talk to my husband about how I FEEL. it’s all about the ‘I feel’ message! It’s not a blame game, nobody is doing anything wrong. It’s only that the dynamics of your relationship and how things are at the moment make you feel bad. And chances are he doesn’t even notice that you are so unhappy (maybe you are as good at hiding your unhappiness as I am ;)) and I am sure he would do anything to make you feel good about yourself and the relationship.

      On a more practical note: as cheesy as it may sound, date nights are a good way of rekindling the good spirit. Just one evening every 2 or 3 weeks, or a lazy Sunday in the park, going to a gallery and having some nice food… it does wonders.

      And sorry for the rambling, I guess all I wanted to get across is that you are not alone! I hope you can make things work for yourself. And yes, it’s a struggle! ;)

  • What you described here? That’s how I knew I was going to marry Jason. Even when the day-to-day details aren’t my forte (though I probably stumble through the obscure band one-upsmanshsip industry conversations better than I would the supreme court debates), it’s the cheering section that counts. That support and complete belief in me is something I never felt before meeting him. And it matches the pride and cheerleading I do for him, which makes it all even better. Congratulations to David, and I’m so thrilled for you both.

  • FawMo

    Congratulations David! We’re all cheering for you!

    Several years ago the BF and I began (read: I began and over time wore him down) referring to the two of us as Team FawMo (a mash-up of our last names). It was a joke at first but has become a framework for support for us. We’ve got each others’ backs because we’re teammates and that’s that.

  • Aw, yay! This email gave me warmfuzzies. I’m giving you both a round of applause right now. Out loud. Really.

    • meg


  • Class of 1980

    What a great post. How exciting to watch your husband in action at work, and how humbling to know that what he does affects someone’s life in such a big way.

  • My husband is so uber supportive of me. When I come home and want to talk about classes I’m in or teaching he really listens. And I know this because he’s started talking about the same things. We went to a department dinner in part because I wanted him to see that other people besides him think I’m good at what I do. Make him feel a little less crazy maybe. Love him.

  • Kaitlyn

    I chose a very intense career, and the only people keeping me sane are the ones who force me to talk and think about something else. If I had the equivalent of a “perfect law-school girlfriend/wife” who wanted to talk about what I did all the time… I would die. I need to know that my value as a person doesn’t begin and end with my career. And that there’s a whole big world out there that isn’t going to collapse just because I bombed a test or walked in to work 5 minutes late. Sure, I want my guy to listen to me when I’m stressing. But then I want him to kiss me and take me hiking. So, I think that giving your SO perspective and personal room to grow/breathe – along with a cheering section – is much more valuable than having a strong opinion on the Supreme Court justices!

  • Oh, I need one of those weeks. I’m in the no good girlfriend, soon to be wife stage. And I want to be better, but sometimes it’s so hard! Glad to hear that there are good weeks to be had, and that even while I’m a curmudgeon now, I might not be later!

  • Congrats to David. That is a big freaking deal and it’s awesome that you got to see it in action.

    My fiancee just graduated from law school last weekend. I agree about getting sick of all of the law-related conversations… or like two years in a row when I went to the Libel Show and didn’t understand an of the jokes because they relate to specific cases that are not covered on Law & Order. Something about the work he’s done so far/is going to do gets me so excited though Maybe it’s because of the social justice thing or maybe it’s just because he loves it. I don’t know. I’m a crim law junkie now.

  • Marchelle

    Go Meg! Go David! Go you both!

    Go all of us who are right there with you!

  • This is lovely and so important!
    It’s part of what I’ve loved about the relationship my husband and I have too, that we’re really good about encouraging one another, listening well, supporting through changes and challenges.
    This week we had for probably the first time proper since we were married, a situation where we both so stressed it was overwhelming. It has been a lesson this week in how to continue being each other’s cheering squad when we’re both in need of encouragement and a cheering squad in the same moment.

  • Oh man. I just realized that one of the earliest pretenses I schemed up for hanging around with Joe was going to see his school’s mock trial team compete in the finals my junior/his sophomore year in high school. My school had gone up against his already and lost (we were both witnesses… he called out one of my team’s attorneys for being presumptuous during cross-examination… I was swooning too much to mind). In the finals they were up against a totally dastardly homeschool team that I swear did NOTHING but practice for mock trial. I dragged a couple friends down to the courthouse ostensibly to “root against the homeschoolers” which I guess is only marginally lamer/nerdier than going to oogle at the cute curlyhaired witness from the all-boys school team.

    Anyway, yes! One-person cheering sections! They are great to be and have even when you’re not being totally emotionally honest with yourself that that’s what you’re doing!

  • Jo

    This makes me so happy. I love cheering for each other the best, I think.

  • Vanesa

    Your posts always seem to mesh so perfectly with the things I’m thinking or feeling about marriage and life, it keeps me reading even though the wedding was nearly a year ago. It’s like we’re on parallel paths – and you’re so eloquent, sometimes you put words to things I haven’t yet figured out how to say. The year since getting married has been one of coming into our own in our professional lives.

    It’s funny, when I was a teenager I used to worry that being married would mean settling, compromising, and giving things up. I’m sure all the images in the media of single life being a time of freedom and married life being the doldrums didn’t help. That was before I met my man – and if anything, being with him has given me a launchpad for my dreams. We support each other, he challenges me to be my best, and I know if things ever get too hard I have a warm shelter in his love.

    I’ve been a long-time lurker, but I just wanted to comment to say “THANKS!!!” for putting your voice out there and building this community. I know I can always look to team practical for clear eyed perspectives on love, relationships, and family.

  • WOOHOOO!!!!!

    My husband became self-employed in the middle of our engagement– scary and hard and exciting!

    Yesterday, he put a deposit down on an office space for his video editing business. Again: leaps are scary. But, how can you not cheer big-time for your love when they are doing something that is so big and wonderful and significant to their growth?

    Hooray for your cheering, Meg!

  • Shannon

    All I can say is YES!! I am having some similar discoveries about the supportive-ness of my own relationship. It feels damn good, and makes me feel a good deal of really great things about marrying him… I could express some of those things if I weren’t so frickin’ tired…

    Thanks for cheering on the love and support Meg!