A few weeks ago, I sent my darling, lovely, and geeky eldest daughter off to college. Actually, I drove there with her belongings in my car, helped her move in, then held her and cried as we both realized that the basic cable package in her dorm does not get BBC America and she therefore would miss the debut of the second half of Doctor Who season six.
Among the many concerns I have about sending my child off to college a state away are those having to do with relationships. She is dating someone right now and we’ve talked a lot about what makes a relationship a good one. I’m a mom of girls, and I worry about these things. I want her with a good guy. But, that brings up the concern of what types of things need to be present to make a relationship a “good one.”
Some people tell you opposites attract. Others insist you need to share interests, so you have things in common that bind you together. And let’s face it, if we were planning to spend our life with someone, wouldn’t we want somebody that loves the same things we love? As geeks, could we imagine being married to someone that is not a geek, or doesn’t get completely giddy over the latest news from Comic Con?
Well, as it turns out, I can tell you that not only can I imagine it, I’ve done it. Got the t-shirt. I am not married to a geek. In fact, I am married to a man who (ready your hearts, this will hurt) detests Doctor Who and The Lord of the Rings. I know. Take a moment if you need it.
So what does make our relationship successful? How can you make it year in and year out when you don’t share interests? And, is it worth it to devote your life to a man who cannot appreciate the genius that is David Tennant’s Hamlet?
Believe it or not, I think the answers boil down to one simple concept: “Two become one” is a figure of speech. It’s not meant to be taken literally. Of course, two people who commit long term or marry are creating one thing – a marriage or relationship - and the whole of that is greater than the sum of its parts. But, a relationship like that still involves two separate people, with their own likes, dislikes, and favorite TARDIS companion (*ahem* Dr. Martha Jones). Becoming one does not mean that you forfeit your own uniqueness and become the same as someone else. Your interests don’t need to coincide just because you are now “one.”
I read speculative fiction, have Lord of the Rings movie marathon parties, and use a picture of the TARDIS as my profile pic on FaceBook. My husband reads non-fiction when he takes the time to read at all, watches marathons of television shows that involve, you know, true stuff, and his profile pic is the fire rescue unit where he works. He loves to hike outdoors and even sleep outside, in a tent, with no bathroom or air conditioning. I love to curl up in my perfectly temperature-controlled home and see how many new urban fantasy books I can download to my e-reader.
But it works, folks. In November, we will celebrate 20 years of marriage. It works because we respect each other’s differences, and recognize that who we are and what we love brings something strong and special to the relationship, even if we don’t understand the things the other one loves. He loses patience with me when I squeal uncontrollably about a Doctor Who premiere. He grumbles and complains about the fact that the show is stupid, and pointless, and ridiculous. But he never tells me I am stupid, or pointless, or ridiculous.
I don’t expect him to love what I love. But I do expect him to love me. And I expect, and he expects, that we will both put the relationship before ourselves. As part of that, if I ever had to choose between my marriage and my books, I would choose my marriage. As another part of that, my husband would never, ever ask me to give up my books because he loves and respects me too much and knows what they mean to me. The fact that he knows I would make the sacrifice if called upon is enough.
I’m not much for advice-giving. I think most people’s lives are so complex and individual that it’s the height of arrogance to assume that I have the answer to someone else’s issue. But if I had to offer advice to the other GeekaChicas out there, I would say this – find a partner who respects and loves you for who you are, including everything that makes you so geek-femme-tastic. When you decide this is the one for you, devote yourself to the relationship, putting it first but never forgetting that you and your beloved are individuals. As individuals, it’s okay to have divergent interests, so long as you both are focused on what is most important and willing to sacrifice for the benefit of the relationship. As a couple, you put the health of the relationship above your own interests, and respect the differences you have as individuals.
This November hubby and I will celebrate two decades together as a couple. We will probably spend a long weekend in the mountains, where he will be thrilled about the availability of challenging hiking trails, and I will be excited about new books I brought to read. We may even spend some time during the weekend apart, doing our own thing. And hey, that’s okay.