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.

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3 Replies to “Marriage”

  1. Interesting thoughts on marriage. I always find articles and thoughts on marriage to be interesting , I think because I’m always trying to discover what makes one marriage work and one fail. I, like you, have been married 17yrs and also feel that my husband and i are in it for the long haul so to speak. Unlike you ,I have been in the same position career wise for our whole marriage (I’m a pediatrician so pretty much there’s no such things as changing position or “advancing” your career etc). And i don’t really think my husband has helped me to grow or change at all (I don’t know that i’d really want to change much really) – we’re pretty boringly stable. But we are both very similar in that we like the boring stable unchanging life . (well, with kids, I guess, things are always changing in ways) And like your husband, he respects my career and arranges business trips around my call schedule etc.
    I’ve always thought respect for the other person was one key to marriage.When I hear someone say their spouse is dumb or an idiot or some other insult, I always think the marriage is doomed. And i think your husband’s support of your career and job changes shows he respects you and knows you deserve and are capable of a fulfilling career.
    It’s great you and your husband never lack for things to talk about- not many couples can say that!

  2. Unfortunately, I think too many people get too caught up in the notion that marriage is *all* about romance & not about building a viable connection that can sustain the relationship long-term.

    I think you have a very realistic and healthy view on marriage… to be with someone for 17 years & still want to be with the person/still have the desire & ability to talk to one another is quite an accomplishment. Happy anniversary!

  3. Thanks! I think you’re right about the romance thing and I think that’s what’s sold to women, in particular. Think how much build up there is about a wedding, and that sort of creates this situation where you think the marriage is going to be like the wedding. Marriage takes some work for sure, but I think a lot of that work is about managing expectations.

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