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Commentary: Those who play second fiddle find they have a special place in relationships

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Jodi Rall, Columnist

Jodi Rall is a Brentwood resident and writer. 

Second fiddle: (a noun) one that plays a supporting or subservient role. 

Recently I read a book by Paul C. Cline, PhD, titled “Second Fiddles: Prime Examples of Strength in the Shadows.” The concept of the book fascinated me as I truly had never thought about the relationship between leaders and those who loyally support and complete the tasks of the leader. 

Cline looked at real-life and fictional associations from politics to sports, and in family/marriage dynamics too. Some of the insights he shared were about Bobby and JFK, Eleanor and Franklin and Aaron and Moses. Among others. 

What interested me is thinking about my husband, who is an Enneagram 5. This personality type is loyal, analytical and is a worker. For most of his corporate career he found the role of “second fiddle” to be a place where he thrived. It was not that he couldn’t have stepped into the role as the leader; he found great satisfaction with the work he did and with those he worked with. 

Second fiddles need recognition. They might not desire accolades, but they are an important part of success on the corporate level, and within the home. 

For most of the time we were raising our four children, my husband traveled. I guess you could say since I left my career for motherhood, I became the second fiddle. However, in raising four children you better be a good leader because without a plan for success and ability to take charge, chaos would have overtaken our home. 

Many years ago, my father was placed in Hospice. My husband had to stay in town and work to care for the children while I was away.  It still makes me giggle as our oldest called me one day. 

“Mommy, you have to come home. Even the dog is being disobedient to Daddy.” 

To them, I was never second fiddle. 

Many women struggle with identity issues as they leave careers, raise children, and support their husbands’ careers. My message to all women is how much you matter. 

Our children saw me volunteering at their schools, reading to them, and doing homework. However, I did work outside the home many times taking positions that held flexibility to be home after school to become the chauffer, head chef and cleaning lady. 

It was interesting attending a book club meeting where the author was present. One of the attendees brought up how she enjoyed being second fiddle as it took pressure off her. 

Another shared being a military spouse and how you had to play second fiddle to your husband’s career and even with the general’s wife — play by the rules, make your husband look good, never dress or drive a car better than the general’s wife. 

It was interesting to hear how various women felt about the role they held in life. 

What gives me joy is that today women have choices that many of these women said they never had. Women could not, or by society’s rules should not, make more money than their husbands. They were groomed to play second fiddle. 

Both of our daughters have careers. Our oldest will never play second fiddle in her career, or home. She has been strong-willed, independent and a leader since birth. The second, although a different type of leader, could play second fiddle; somehow I see her taking a stance and fulfilling her own leadership style. She is a natural born people person who is loved and followed because of her light. 

If you have a chance to read the book, it is available on Amazon and at bookstores. It is good to sometimes explore topics not thought of. 

Keep reading and growing. Ask yourself, are you playing second fiddle?



Jodi Rall can be contacted at

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