About computers and marriage

Scoble (among others) writes about a situation which is a given in any marriage where one person is gifted with 'geek-genes' and the other lacks every single one of them. Here in the Netherlands we even had a term for those wives which feel neglected because their husband is spending more time behind the keyboard than with her: "Computer weduwe" or in English: "Computer Widow".

Now, I'm married too and I don't have these situations here. I think one of the reasons for that is that my wife loves her computer: she plays The Sims whenever she finds the time, writes her novels on it (she's a writer) and uses it helping with projects in my company (functional designs / research / front-end development). Another reason is that she knows I'm a true geek. I'm 32 now and am programming since 1985, you can't simply say to a person who wants to do one thing in life: software development, to back off and spend free time away from the machine that makes that one thing possible. In other words: she respects that I'm a geek and I am spending a lot of my time typing code, shaking my head while looking at a monitor and other activities developers perform on a daily basis.

However as Paul writes, it's not a one way street, it's a two way street. You can't expect from a person you want to spent your life with to simply agree with how you think he/she has to spend his/her life. I live near the beach (in Scheveningen) and when it is nice weather, it's great to spend some time near the sea, sit in the sun, drink a couple of beers. There are times I'm in the middle of a routine I have to finish (I have my office in my house) and my wife asks me to stop coding immediately and to get to the beach. Well, it's a two way street, so in most of these situations I indeed choose the beach over continuing programming. But fortunately for me, the weather sucks most of the time so I'm not confronted with a lot of these situations. :)

I also know the situation where your girlfriend / wife simply can't understand what's so darn interesting about spending a lot of time typing cryptic texts, staring at a monitor and being most of the time not that happy because what you try to accomplish is not what you be able to achieve. The whole concept of writing software by seemingly endless periods of misery with a happy ending is surreal to them. In the period 1988-1993 the girlfriend I had at that time was a person who simply didn't understand that concept. I was still studying at the university and programming graphical routines on my Amiga 500. She didn't understand that I found it hard to spend 2 weeks in a tent on a camping site without my computer. Needless to say: it didn't work out very well and frankly, now I'm glad that period ended.

So, the moral of the story? Have respect for each other's interests, be aware of the things which are very important to the other person. If you read that sentence two or more times, you will understand that indeed it is a two way street, because from the Point Of View of the 'geek' in the relationship, the other person is the non-geek who also has things which are very important for that person.

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