How to care for my geek husband?
August 24, 2008 4:12 PM Subscribe
I need help understanding how my hyper-smart geek husband's brain works. I want to give him the understanding he craves but am having a hard time inhabiting his plane.
posted by anonymous to human relations (61 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
I have been happily married for some years to a wonderful, geeky, man whom I love deeply. He's super intelligent (mathematician/computer scientist) and has tons of fabulous qualities, but even he admits that he's a "difficult" character: he believes himself to live a life of pure logic and despairs - literally despairs - at all the irrationality around him.
I'm also a geek, but to a less extreme extent (I'm also female - don't know if that's relevant). He admits that I am "more rational" than average but still at times rages at me for my idiocy when I don't agree with his "rational ideas". He does this to friends, acquaintances, and colleagues, too, with predictably disastrous results. My default reaction is to try to explain the causes and reasons behind mine and others' seeming irrationality, to talk about the complexity of real life and the validity of implicit social rules - but this infuriates him further.
I've pretty much come to the conclusion that as I love this man, I just need to accept how he is and find strategies to deal with the fact that there will sometimes be inevitable conflict.
However, last night, after a discussion about politics sparked off by him yelling "liars!" at the TV, he admitted to me that he often feels lonely not being able too talk about his ideas without them being "attacked", and pleaded with me to try to just "go with it" when he has some idea he wants to discuss. Now, I'm sure I often *do* do this (after all, he chose me to marry - I must occasionally get things right) - but frequently I genuinely don't know how, and we don't seem to be able to figure it out together.
For example, last night the idea he floated was that every person holding public office should be under video surveillance 24/7/365 as a condition of holding the job. I responded that this was unrealistic and that nobody would ever want office given this condition. I guess he was looking for me to riff with him on the advantages of such an idea, but frankly, I really thought it was lousy. I can't lie to him - not when he's seeking to have an intellectually exploratory discussion - but I don't know how to respond both honestly and postively when the "abstract" ideas he posits seem to me to be as realistic as deciding to raise unicorns.
Although he works with computers, his passion is mathematics, and he seems to believe that his mastery of formal logic qualifies him to "fix" things outside of mathematics. He tells me he's starting from pure logic and then wants help working back to reality. However, when so many of his "fixes" concern human beings, I find it really hard to take them seriously without immediately bringing in issues around human nature. This, to him, sounds like .. criticism? irrelevance? whatever ... it's not where he wants to go.
Maybe my discussion style doesn't help - I am used to rough-and-tumble intellectual debates, where challenge and dispute is not a negative but a spur to strengthen one's arguments. I guess I need to learn to turn this off at times.
He's a really, really, angry man, and I can see that it hurts him, as well as causing social difficulty. He doesn't want to "give in" and be like all the other "sheep" and claims to value integrity and honesty above everything else. He admits he is an idealist, and while I admire that, a large part of me wants to "cure" that so that he won't be continually disappointed when humanity fails to live up to his ideals.
I understand that you can't and shouldn't try to change someone. I accept that he is likely to remain "difficult" and abrasive. I would, however, like some advice on how to help him feel less alone. He tells me he'd like for just one person in the world to understand him, and he wishes it could be me. I wish that too - what should I do?