CNN's documentary about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, titled "RBG," premiered for the first time on TV September 2. While the compelling documentary about Ginsburg's history outlined her professional success and political influence as the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, it also recounted a beautiful love story—a love story that exudes qualities all women should aim for.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg met her husband, Martin Ginsburg, on a blind date when they were both undergrads at Cornell in the 1950s. Their iconic romance played a major role in helping Ruth seize the opportunity to interview for SCOTUS, as well as providing her the support every mother deserves in navigating a demanding career, particularly during a time when that wasn't an option for the majority of women.
Although Ruth and Marty's relationship started decades ago, the hallmarks of their relationship are standards that, unfortunately, are still not completely available to women in binary relationships.
What can we, as women today, learn from Ruth and Marty about how to approach our own relationships? Here are some (to name a few).
A man should never stop you from pursuing the education or career you want
Ruth still attended law school and launched her career without Marty expecting that she needed to stay at home, cook and take care of the children (unlike most families at the time).
While relationships are important, it's equally as important to be capable of your own independence
"My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person. Be independent." – RBG
The best kind of confidence: a man who is comfortable enough with himself to not feel threatened by you
"One of the sadnesses about the brilliant girls who attended Cornell is that they kind of suppressed how smart they were. But Marty was so confident of his own ability, so comfortable with himself, that he never regarded me as any kind of a threat." – RBG
A good boyfriend/fiancé/husband is one that will take care of you…
According to Lisa Beattie Frelinghuysen, Ruth's legal clerk, Martin would often stop by the chambers to "lure Ruth home for dinner" after a long and busy work day.
…And be willing to compromise for you
When the woman's movement came along, and Ruth's career became more important than ever, Marty put her career first and gave up his position at Georgetown after President Carter nominated Ruth to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
A man who cares about your intelligence is a keeper
"He was the first boy I ever knew who cared that I had a brain." – RBG
Parenting is a two-person job
In "RBG," Ruth explains that Marty was the main chef in the house she was a horrible cook. Their daughter, Jane, explained that Marty was always "cooking for Mother even when he could not himself eat, nor stand in the kitchen without pain because for him it was ever a joy to discuss the law over dinner with Mother while ensuring that she ate well and with pleasure."
Find someone who will stick by your side and be your biggest cheerleader
Ruth wasn't one to boast about herself, so Martin did. In a time when women were scarce in the law community and faced many barriers, Marty was adamant that his wife was the woman for the job when the Supreme Court had an opening in 1993. He was the one who brought her to Clinton's attention.
Loving your best friend is the best kind of love there is
Martin Ginsburg passed away in 2010. His last letter to Ruth says it all:
My dearest Ruth—
You are the only person I have loved in my life, setting aside, a bit, parents and kids and their kids, and I have admired and loved you almost since the day we first met at Cornell some 56 years ago. What a treat it has been to watch you progress to the very top of the legal world!!
I will be in JH Medical Center until Friday, June 25, I believe, and between then and now I shall think hard on my remaining health and life, and whether on balance the time has come for me to tough it out or to take leave of life because the loss of quality now simply overwhelms. I hope you will support where I come out, but I understand you may not. I will not love you a jot less.
The number of beautiful characteristics of Ruth and Marty's relationship could go on and on, but this list is a good start. Ladies: hold yourself to these standards in your binary relationships. Never degrade yourself, dumb yourself down or hold yourself back in life just for the sake of a man.
If the guy you're with is truly a man, he'll elevate you, push you to achieve your dreams in life and be your biggest fan along the way… all while you do the same for him, too. Every woman deserves to love and be loved like this in her lifetime. Don't settle for less.