rambling on and on
This comment got so wordy I figured I better make it a whole post…
The question is this: How important is it that you be intellectually/educationally matched with your partner?
Perhaps I infer too much, but I felt recent comments suggested that because I didn’t view intellectual or educational parity as an essential (ie, on a par with other qualities and types of compatibility), I was shallow or missing the boat (eg, “poor you”).
And just to declare my bias beforehand so you don’t have to waste time speculating about it: I had somewhat more education than Hannah; even more so compared to the woman I’m seeing now.
Anyway, here’s my take on the deal:
Like Stephanie (who sometimes wants to be called “Lisa”, I have no idea why), I tested really well in school. If tests are reliable indicators (debatable, yes), at one point at least, I was between 2 and 3 standard deviations from the mean in IQ. One way to interpret that data would be to infer that I was more intelligent than 95-99% of my age peers.
This leaves millions of people more intelligent than I am (I can hear my family and friends now: “Millions? More like billions…”)
But anyway, consider this:
In the US and Canada, there are something like 350,000,000 people. Let’s start filtering out that pool, shall we?
Let’s say half are women. 175M
Let’s say 20% are close enough in age: 35M
Let’s say 25% are physically compatible/attractive to me: 8.75M
Let’s make believe a third are available: 2.9M
And now let’s take the 5% who have the other qualities that are important to me. We’re down to 145,000 women on this continent. Are we really saying that I should now weed out the ones who didn't test on par with me or who don't have degrees? That would leave me to find one of 7,000 women out of 350,000,000. Yeah, I want to spend my time looking for one of those, when I already have one who has dozens of other qualities that I consider far more important.
When I was married to Hannah, there were some things missing in our marriage, but intellectual debate wasn’t one of them. Rather, it *was* missing, but I didn’t miss it. Hannah positively loathed debate about anything, but I’d have been perfectly happy with our life together if we never discussed Nietzsche or Dostoevsky or Chaos Theory for the rest of our lives. Believe me, I know what was missing; after 41 yrs of life and a failed marriage, give me credit for knowing what I want. If I want to debate, I'll call my brother, or go online.
Besides individual commitment and shared history, I think there are some core compatibility issues – temperament, attitude, shared priorities – that make a relationship last. Note that I’m not saying you have to be the *same* -- you just have to be compatible (ie, one person’s weaknesses or flaws or idiosyncrasies can’t be a huge deal to the other person.)
The things that impress me about who I’m with now are her kindness (towards me, and towards other people), her solid and realistic sense of self-worth, her zest for life, her love for her daughter. She prioritizes things that are also important to me: friendships and family relationships. She has an ability to look critically at herself, to laugh at herself, to accept her mistakes, to continue to learn and grow. I have learned a lot from her about being authentic, about being present in the moments of my life. I have learned from her how to be more honest with myself and with others about my feelings. She reminds me it’s not necessary to pretend to be perfect, nor to expect others to have the same standards I hold. She is positive and appreciative – of me, of little blessings and privileges, of life in general. She is sincere and verbal, and communicates well, in two languages.
Don’t get me wrong, she has faults like everyone else: she’s vain, she doesn’t plan very well, and she’s dramatically and predictably irritable every 28 days or so; her highs are high and her occasional lows are low. When it comes to personality traits like self-discipline, pride, honesty, being too opinionated, selfishness – she’s remarkably like me, which is to say imperfect, but improving.
But she’s fun, passionate, a fundamentally happy person, disciplined where it counts; she loves me enthusiastically, she’s gorgeous, and she cooks like a dream. She’s a great mom to her daughter, she’s patient and kind to my kids, and they like her a lot. She expresses love the same way I do: through touch and talking. She makes me very happy.
But apparently what I ought to do is ditch this relationship and spend my time looking for someone else who has all of the above plus is well-read and tested where I did in high school.
I’m reluctant to do that, which I guess could mean I’m shallow. But I don’t think so.