A friend with just a few years of marriage asked me many questions. I listened to her hiding my smile. Like me, she got married to a scientist, but I had many years behind me which sort of made me a know-it-all in her eyes. Researchers stay in their lab until late; they don’t have regular hours. The concept of 9 to 5 is totally unfamiliar to them. If an experiment goes well they forget about night and day and just stay there for as long as needed. “Are they bored at home?” she asked worriedly. “And what about, say, a Sunday dinner together? You see, he starts fidgeting and then mumbles that he needs to run to the lab for a few, and disappears. Is it me?” I assured her that she was not the reason. The key word here is need. A scientist’s mind never stops functioning; this is what makes them unique and distinct from all the other species of humans. They don’t know weekend from week days. If they get an inspiration, a new idea, a question, they have to act on it at once. They do learn that family means certain responsibilities; also with time, if their career advances, they may take some work home and spend the same weekend completely or partly absorbed in their research, reading, writing, surfing the web, communicating with their colleagues around the globe. I confess at first it seemed a bit weird to me too. But then I never knew weekends from week days either. Kids need to be clothed and fed, so I saw early mornings and weekends as great opportunities for my own translation/writing, with a difference. My Granny taught me one solid principle regarding the upbringing of children: a book is always on the shelf, a child needs our attention NOW. If we tell our child that we are busy, they will ask again… and then look for attention elsewhere, sometimes with disastrous results. This simple principle stayed with me; I would drop whatever I was doing to attend to my kids’ needs, to answer their questions and to help out or resolve a conflict. I also imbibed one (just one) solid principle for married life and dealing with men, especially with one whose profession and occupation are way beyond my understanding: all a woman needs is patience. A lot.
For better communication between spouses, for preserving romance, and for helping our men come back to our earthly plane occasionally, one technique works well. Show interest in his work. He may launch into an enthusiastic detailed description which may quickly sail over your head into the wide blue yonder; but he talks to you, right? Or she as the case may be. It takes time and patience, because at first they simply do not understand what it is you want. “How was your day? – Normal”. But gradually a rapport is built, they remember that they can talk about their current interest at home. True, they may use you as a sounding board, but again, it is you they talk to, you whom they now see as an interested party, you whose welcoming presence is cherished.
Watch “The Big Bang Theory”, one of the best modern TV shows. Look at it this way. Scientists exist in a parallel world. So do firefighters and policemen, for instance. Or neurosurgeons or astronauts. And yet people fall in love, get married and have children not because of their profession but because of that mutual great feeling called Love. Here are a few examples of the answers to my unofficial poll titled “How did you choose your future spouse?” conducted exclusively among scientists.
- Rule of Thumb: I liked him/her and hoped for the best.
- By indirect proof or opposite tack: not ugly, not mean, not fat etc. depending on one’s expectations.
- By an in-depth study also known as by an intent look: if a person is attractive study them and see what attracts you to them and them to you. It may work.
- He/she has a great sense of humor.
- He/she knows how to listen.
- (From men only) She is such a great cook!
- (From women only) He can fix anything!
I told all this to my younger friend, and assured her she’ll be fine. Men build houses, women build homes. Together they build a family.