REPOST: Sharing Worlds

I studied interior design and art in undergrad.  My husband is pursing his D.Phil. in the philosophy of physics.  I like jam…good homemade jam that my lovely friend Kat makes at the beginning of summer and then gives to me all year long.  My husband likes peanut butter.  It is his staple food and he literally eats it on toast every single morning of his life.  He communicates through writing, being incredibly friendly with bullet points and annotations.  I‘d much rather show you a painting or play you a song to communicate something and I don’t even punctuate when I write.  We are opposite.  We are incredibly opposite, yet incredibly attracted to and curious about each other.

When we were dating long distance before we got engaged, I gained a new level of appreciation for the magic of Wikipedia.  Late at night as I sat curled up on the phone chatting with him, I was frequently online trying to figure out what on earth ‘quantum mechanics’ is, but better yet, all the philosophical implications that come with it.  It was a trying time in our relationship.  Many times I confessed to him that I thought I might not be the right person for him to marry since…..well, since I couldn’t help edit his papers because there were more equations in them than words.  I worried that we were just too different.  Thankfully, by the grace of God and a wise roommate, I was able to look past these fears and insecurities and began to see the beauty that is the diversity of gifts / strengths / and interests in marriage.

We’ve come a long way.  Almost every single night over dinner I hear about Einstein and Lorentz’s theories of relativity and what the true definition of a scientific explanation is.  I listen as my husband explains the quirky guy in his physics lecture or how well done the Powerpoint presentation was (since he knows my love for good design).  Because honestly if he didn’t, we’d be on different pages.  Not just different pages, different chapters.  It’s an effort.  I lose focus and start daydreaming about another cool image design for this blog and then I have to ask him to backtrack and share again.  He gets distracted when I share about my newest passion for the arts or tell him about the lecture on architecture that I just attended.  We know we are different.  As different as peanut butter and jelly…but how great we are when we share our worlds together.  What a good combination we are when we actively pursue unity and strive to share our differing worlds with the other.  I’ve seen far too many well-respected and admired marriages fall away, because ‘worlds’ weren’t shared.  One spouse had work or a dream that took so much of them that there was little energy left to share with the other about it or invite them into it.  One spouse dedicated themselves to their kids and then when they were all grown up and gone, there was such a massive gap between relating and sharing worlds with the other that they almost didn’t make it.

We aren’t perfect at this.  Heck, we’ve only been married three years, but I’m thankful we are trying.  On this graduate wife journey you almost have to.  To actively engage and share in your spouse’s world as best as you can.  So I need to mention one more thing:  backing up to the nightly dinner conversations about my husband’s day.  Before he shares his day, his reading, his world with me…he asks about mine.  He asks about how it was today with our 16 month old.  What did she learn, what did she do, how was her nap.  He asks how my time alone was, what did I get to read (if I found time), what was going on in my head and heart, what the status of the few part-time projects are that I am working on.  After all of that, then he begins to share.

It makes all the difference to me that he consciously reminds himself every day on the way home to ask about my day first, to validate my work as a wife, mother, and artist.  He knows that deep down it’s hard for me at times to be at home while he is studying, pursing his dreams.  He knows that sometimes I get cranky and sad and have pity parties because I feel like we are doing all of this for him and that my dreams are on the back-burner.  It would be incredibly hard for me to jump into, share, or even honestly care about his ‘world’ if he didn’t equally care about mine.

I know this isn’t always the case and we, like many, have learned the hard way, through tears and confusing discussions and misinterpreted emotions. I think in the end it was actually my idea that he asks about my day first and thankfully he took it to heart. We’ve learned that although we are incredibly different people, we are so much more beautiful people when we are unified together, more beautiful than we could ever be alone.  I just want to encourage you on this journey through graduate school, however distant at times you might feel from your spouse’s work, engage them.  Share your day with them and ask for them to share with you.  It’s challenging at times, but ever so enriching and fruitful.

-M.C.

In your journey, how have you and your spouse tried to “share your worlds”?

{disclaimer: So, I know peanut butter and jelly aren’t opposites per say…but I really liked the imagery and decided to go with it.}

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