In praise of our partners

We’re at the age where we’ve had friends divorce, but generally the question with them has been why it took so long.  We’ve been through transitions and tragedies.  One set of us is still going strong at the 19 year mark.

Bottom line:  neither of our partners is a flake with self-destructive tendencies.

I do not think either of our partners will have a mid-life crisis in a bad way.  Sure, maybe a mid-life crisis, but not the stereotypical kind where the guy sheds the wife and tries to find himself, in the end either finding nothing or a much younger wife.  I imagine our partners will instead find a new hobby or a new piece of electronic equipment, possibly a new career or a new start-up.  It is unlikely that they’ll turn into internationally traveling bums like one of our former classmates.

Our guys keep busy.  If they were idle rich they’d probably tool around with inventions.  And gaming.  And books.  And not feel like they were missing something in life.  They know how to entertain themselves so they don’t end up like a lost character in Emma who wouldn’t get into trouble if she just kept busy.  Idle hands and all.

Even though #2’s partner isn’t my physical type (let’s just say our preferences on body hair are orthogonal), I used to sit next to him in various classes in high school and I like him a lot.  He’s a really nice guy.  Grounded.  He’s already done his pudgy nerd to athletic stud thing and somehow seems to have survived without it causing him to question who he really is.  (Same thing with figuring out his finances and you know, growing up.)  Honestly he’s the first guy that #2 ever dated that I approved of.  Not sure where she used to find those jerks but her partner is totally a keeper.

My partner, of course, is practically perfect in every way.  The definition of keeper (or, you know, Mary Poppins… but he’s way sexier than Mary Poppins).

Maybe it’s our Midwestern pragmatism.  But I think we and our partners have a good sense of who we ARE, even if we don’t always know what we want to DO.  That who am I question just seems irrelevant.  There are yummy foods to be eaten, wonderful books to be read.  (In partners’ case add also:  games to be played.)  Navel gazing takes away from that.  Sure there are professional goals and so on, but that’s either to get more money or because we’re aware that we’re playing a game and you progress in that game by hitting those goals.  That and our research actually has some meaning– the questions are interesting and the answers are somewhat relevant.  Some day we might decide we want to play new or different games, but that isn’t going to spark some sort of existential crisis, even during the search.  My partner searches for a new hobby every 1-3 months.  Careers take a bit longer, but it’s the same idea, just more lucrative.

I strongly recommend dating an engineer.  Someone who spends more time with reality and less time navel gazing.  Someone who appreciates what he has and builds on it rather than jumping on whatever the latest fad or far-out conference presentation is.  Someone that you would trust to foster kittens in your house if he wanted to.

And this is why one should marry an engineer (or computer scientist).

(Really hoping this post doesn’t jinx anything…)

39 Responses to “In praise of our partners”

  1. Leah Says:

    I don’t know where I found my previous jerks either. Wait, yes I do — English department! (altho that’s also where I found one of my best friends, but she might be an anomaly.)

    I didn’t marry an engineer, but I did marry a physics teacher. Close enough for me. He had thought about going engineering but didn’t want to leave his SLAC , so physics it was. We’ve only been together 4.5 years and married 1.5, but everything is going strong with no warning signs. I agree that finding someone with a good head on their shoulders is essential.

    Congrats to both of you for your marriage longevity.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      There may be gender differences!

      • Leah Says:

        ahh, yes. I did not account for gender differences. Maybe there’s anomalies, but I knew an awful lot of English major jerks. I thought poetry was supposed to make guys sensitive.

    • Revanche Says:

      to your later comment: pretentious. Poetry tends to make guys pretentious.
      As a former Eng major (but y’know female), guys who were not organically into poetry used it as a crutch of underwhelming obnoxiousness with which to metaphorically beat one unconscious.
      The ones it didn’t affect were just super laidback and that was much easier to get along with.

  2. plantingourpennies Says:

    “Bottom line: neither of our partners is a flake with self-destructive tendencies.”

    Last night Mr. PoP and I were talking about another couple we know and he said, “I’m so glad you’re not crazy.” He had to backpedal a little to remove his foot, but basically ended with “a cat that poops in a box, and a partner that doesn’t self destruct – when you get the fundamentals right, you can have a lot of fun building off of whatever comes next.” I know I’m partial, but I tend to agree. =)

  3. First Gen American Says:

    Engineers rock. Plus most of them are pretty handy too so when your washer breaks, they actually want to fix it because they like the challenge of conquering the task. Nagging is rarely required for the honey do list to get done especially if it is technical in nature.

  4. NoTrustFund Says:

    Could not agree more with the engineer or computer scientist comment. But I am biased!

  5. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    Sounds exactly like me and physiowife!

  6. Leigh Says:

    Cute! 19 years – you guys have been together almost as long as I’ve been alive :)

    I’ve tried dating non-engineers and their brains are so strange and confusing to try to understand!

  7. bogart Says:

    Ha, ha, I was reading your endorsement of engineers and thinking, “… or a computer programmer!!!” And Lo!

    It’s funny, I have puzzled over this stuff and how (other) people approach it. I see a number of my colleagues moving into bigger — and I mean, big — houses and such. Which maybe they just want and — whatever. But really, yeah. I know who I am and I am not vastly concerned with figuring out (more) about who I am. I mean, I enjoying doing (some) new stuff, but not (inherently) thinking about what new stuff I might enjoy doing (or having), and emphatically not worrying about thinking about what you think of me (whoever you are). I guess maybe it’s that I’ve lived in this town for virtually my entire life (born here, left for 4 years for college and 3 years for work and even those latter, owned a home here), so either you already know me and my family and therefore have formed your opinion, or you are new here, in which case welcome, but don’t expect me to remodel myself to suit your preferences. Also, thanks for voting the way you do being a northeasterner and all, I appreciate that contribution to our state and community, but around here we also smile at folks and say hi, just so you know.

    DH has been married twice before, a young-and-foolish marriage ended by mutual consent and a second one ended by the other party. I’ve told him one of us is leaving this marriage in a box. We’ll see how that works out. I hope we stay unboxed for a good bit longer.

  8. chacha1 Says:

    I like my partner too. :-) Our personalities are quite different (he is a caregiver, though not a mushy squishy oh-it’ll-all-be-all-right caregiver) and I am … well … not.

    If we were dogs, he would be a Golden Retriever and I would be a border collie. I am not happy unless I have something to do, preferably several things to do; he is quite happy when he has nothing to do.

    He is a physical therapist and I fly a desk in a law office. Neither of us is an engineer, although The Man has exceptional spatial-relationships skills and is good at figuring out how to fix things. This is not necessarily a benefit to the marriage given that I generally favor paying someone else to do things if they can do it faster (or better) than we can.

    Neither of us was married previously. We’ve been together 15 years (met at 32 and 38) and married 11.5.

  9. GEW Says:

    Again, yes to the engineers! Mine (of the aero variety) helps the children with math, built a cool fort in the back year, fixes everything that breaks, builds rockets with the kids, and has no interest in navel-gazing. And the bonus: He is from Colorado, so he is an engineer who is also inclined towards outdoor adventures (which is great for the children since I tend to want to hole up with books). His only weakness (besides spelling) is his desire for all of our home decor to be perfectly symmetrical and matchy-matchy.

  10. The frugal ecologist Says:

    Ooh, it’s my anniversary today so I will give a shout out to my husband too. No engineers here, but he is for sure a keeper – solid in his character, committed to growth and committed to me. & he cooks! He cleans!

    I like your advice & will pass it along to pals looking for love. But I don’t think My younger self would have taken your advice. It took me to grad school to realize that stability and not being a flake was a good thing…I went through a long series of hippies/rock climbers/free spirits before meeting my partner. glad for those experiences but really glad that’s not who iam spending the rest of my life with!

  11. Revanche Says:

    Engineers populate much of my family, but I married a non-engineer. Also a non-geek, which considering the geekiness of his colleagues and my super-charged geekiness, is confusing. Nevertheless, he’s pretty much neither got his life centered on work (unlike me), nor is he flaky. Verra nice!
    Dogs: He’s more like a chocolate lab. I haven’t a good grip on what dog I most resemble.
    But like you, we’ve been observing the more outrageous neuroses and habits of friends’s spouses and being grateful we’re not living that.

  12. Practical Parsimony Says:

    dated an engineer. Finally, after a year of him saying he could not fix this, could not make that, I was totally frustrated. I asked him why, since he was an engineer, did he not know how to build or do anything. He is an industrial engineer–time and motion studies type person. He has absolutely no common sense even though he is very intelligent.

    He does nothing and has no hobbies and has never been married. His greatest fear–that some woman will try to change him. I am talking about smoothing-his-collar-changing-him-for-good. That collar would have to stay wrinkled to show he is his own man, not someone to be manipulated. He is rigid and mostly lacks emotion. He will help me around the yard until he drops. However, he has no ideas. He loves to sit at home in his recliner. I like being active in spare time–sewing or making something. Sitting day after day with no plans makes me crazy. He could happily sit forever.

    He will die alone. He is 59 and working off how he thinks the world is and should be, not how it is. He would make a good, steady partner in marriage if anyone could just ignore him in many ways. EX: he will argue forever and follow a person around, stating over and over his point and who said what. He would rather be right than happy!

    Maybe he is just an anomaly amongst engineers. But, he is truly one of the nicer people on the earth most days, just not marriage material. Oh, as long as we dated, he wore deodorant under protest. Now, he is convinced, once again, that he does not stink.

  13. J Liedl Says:

    My dad is a retired engineering prof who taught at a Midwest university and he was all that was good in the archetype. I knew some others who’d make me go o_O so no guarantees. I married a non-engineer who struck me as being smart, grounded and fun to be with. (Also loves to game!) More than twenty years later, that judgment still holds. We’re lucky, maybe, but we also work hard at this thing called living together.

  14. becca Says:

    Based on my parents marriage, I’d say heterosexually partnered women should marry an anthropology major/house-husband.
    Also, I’ve dated engineers. It’s so funny that I pick up on the same thing you do, and have such an opposite reaction. I find that “lack of navel gazing” to be an “incredible lack of self awareness” and, worse, a “lack of the capacity for extending any true empathy” (not that they can’t do sympathy, which is probably more useful if you have emotional problems and you take them to other people to solve). My childhood bestie is with an engineer she describes as “Sheldon” like (the one from the Big Bang Theory). I just could not handle that.

    That said, I am pretty much a failure at drama-free relationships, so I’m probably not going to extend good advice if that is one’s goal. I’m actually ok with a certain degree of drama, to the degree the drama serves a purpose, or at least is a reflection of true emotional growth. And I’m still like Anne, not Marilla Cuthbert- I’d rather have the downs AND the ups than placidly plod along without either. Some of that might be age, because I *am* growing more Marilla like over time. But I seem to change much more gradually than e.g. my childhood bestie (who went from “partying raver girl” to “married SAHM playing on pinterest” in about 3 months).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Sheldon is a physics major on the spectrum. Not like an engineer at all.

      • becca Says:

        Childhood bestie is *probably* not geeky enough to grok the distinction between “physics major on the spectrum” and “engineer” (and her hubs is a civil engineer, transportation type). She lumps us all as “academic types” (by which I think she means folks who identify with their intellect and scholastic types of skills).
        That said, I would argue that the physics majors I’ve known (who weren’t on the spectrum) were significantly more emotionally present than engineers. From my very non-random and small sample.

        On Anne- maybe the lesson LM Montgomery was going for was that dating stable guys is the best way for incredibly imaginative creative women types to settle down? Though I wonder what that says about LM Montgomery, who supposedly had a very lonely childhood that she believed developed her imagination, and who later married for “love and protection” but not romance?
        In any event, I hope we can all agree… “depressed Presbyterian minister” is not a top recommendation for husband.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Also: Anne dated two stable and mature guys in the books. Her life with Gilbert after they get together is so dull (other than the dead baby, which is traumatic for any couple) that LM Montgomery has to start writing about their kids instead. Marilla dated one guy and they broke up for a very silly and immature reason and never got back together. Not a very staid love life at all.

  15. EMH Says:

    My husband is the antithesis of an engineer. He is a librarian and a musician. He can’t fix anything except his guitars and every day he worries about something. I would tell him to take a deep breath but that would only provoke an asthma attack. We met in 1994, started dating in 1999 and got married in 2003. I think what makes us work is that we are both constantly surprised by each other (in a good way) and that we both can’t believe how lucky we are to be with each other. He may not be able to fix the dishwasher but our home is filled with music and very orderly.

  16. hush Says:

    “(Really hoping this post doesn’t jinx anything…)”

    Ha, ha – It won’t! I’m no magical thinker either and yet I completely get your sentiment. Got the news this week that a local couple (both MDs) with 4 kids, and with whom we’ve had dinner many times, are divorcing. It’s one of those that actually does come as a shock, as they both seemed Really Sane, Together, and Solid – and devout Catholics from intact families of origin, who also married in their early 30s… so to my mind, not the likely demographic for an early 40s divorce, or so I thought. Who can tell these days though?

    I love that you love your partners! (I can’t stand when folks talk smack about their partners, for no legit reason – it makes me sad.) My hubby is awesome and everyone is totally jealous that he’s mine. He’s a science guy who cooks dinner every night, coaches the kids’ teams, works out like a fiend, does more than his fair share around the house, and is just a perfect personality (INTJ) and lifestyle fit for me (INFJ). Nora Ephron was right: “Secret to life: marry an Italian.”

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      That’s too bad about your friends. I hope it’s an amicable split!

      We agree with you on the talking smack of partners– it makes us sad too. Also with the jealousy (though the wistful sighs may just be in my imagination– I do get told I’m lucky *all the time*, and I am!) and the cooking and housework. But not Italian, and not so much with the working out.

  17. Donna Freedman Says:

    I’m on my second attempt here, but we’re a scarily good fit. He gets my jokes and even puns on my puns. He’s frugal, he’s smart, he’s handy, he’s very kind and he’s pretty much unflappable.
    Also: He adores me, which shows his fundamental good taste. ;-) And I adore him right back.
    To paraphrase Shakespeare, it’s a non-marriage of true minds.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: