Mr. Geeky and I have been married for almost 17 years. We’ve been together as a couple for over 20 years. When we hit the 2 year mark, I marveled. It was the longest relationship I’d ever been in. Every other relationship lasted around 1.5 years, and in many cases much less. Our relationship certainly hasn’t been perfect over those 20 years. We’ve had fights. We’ve had doubts. We’ve had boredom. We haven’t always had enough romance or time. But it’s lasted anyway. Even in our relationship’s darkest moments, I’ve always assumed we’d stick it out. I really have imagined splitting–one of us leaves–and I can never imagine it to its conclusion because it seems so unlikely. We’re in this for the long haul. That whole “for better or worse” thing really has applied.
The NY Times had an article Friday about The Sustainable Marriage. There was no talk about “date nights” or daily rituals designed to keep a marriage alive. Instead, the key ingredient involved personal growth, the ability of each partner to contribute to each other’s continued development as a person. When I read that, I knew that’s what our key ingredient was. I’m probably more of a benefactor than Mr. Geeky, or at least I can name several specific ways that he’s contributed to my growth and I’m not sure I can think of ways I’ve done the same for him. The whole two-body problem is not just an issue for academics, but I’m convinced that achieving two fulfilling careers is one of the most difficult challenges modern couples face, especially those with children. Mr. Geeky has not just been supportive of my having a fulfilling career but has also directly helped my career many times.
The first was just by convincing me to make a phone call that ultimately led to my completing my Ph.D. And he did a lot of practical things, from taking care of kids to doing laundry, to make sure I had the time and space to do what I needed to do. And then he supported my leaving a job that was making me (and him, really) miserable. And he helped me get my current job, both because he knew about the opening and by helping me learn the skills I needed to feel comfortable doing my job.
And those are just the big things. On a daily basis, we have conversations about our now nearly identical fields. We’re never without something to talk about. We may not always like the same movies or music, but we talk about it anyway and continue to learn from each other. While we certainly have our routines, I’ve always felt a sense of us never really sitting still. There’s always going to be something new around the corner. I never feel like I’m quite done becoming something and I know Mr. Geeky is always trying new things. That sense of potential keeps us both around.