Thursday, January 06, 2005

Smart women, hard choices

Another study on the obvious has come out, confirming that smart women have a harder time finding spouses than smart men do. (Thanks to Amey for the link.) I know the problem full well, having had many spurts of mingled despising and envy of those big-eyed airheads who somehow won the hearts of guys who apparently saw me only as a nicely-accessorized brain. Fortunately that did not last forever and I found an intelligent guy who actually wanted an intelligent wife, etc., etc., happily ever after.

Except even then it's not quite that simple. People will blame men for being misogynists and feeling "threatened" by smart women, and no doubt that is sometimes true. But the smart men are probably smart enough to realize something, at least instinctively, about the nature of marriage: marriage is meant to be a union, and union cannot survive two separate life focuses. If the husband is off having his great career and achievements and pursuing his goals, and the wife is off having her great career and achievements and pursuing her goals, they aren't really spouses anymore, they're just two people who sleep together fairly often.

No wonder a smart man doesn't want a woman who will simply pursue her current life course without any reference to his. So instead he finds someone who doesn't really have any particularly grand goals and will support his. Even if she doesn't have a clue about quantum physics, they're happy, because she's helping him quantumize better. They're in it together.

One could theoretically imagine a parallel universe in which smart women could generally do the same thing, and find a domesticated house husband who would cheer them on. One occasionally finds a situation in which it works even in this universe, but in general, a man who will simply support his wife's goals and ambitions is a wuss. No self-respecting woman would want to marry him.

The ideal situation, however, is neither of the above. It's one where both husband and wife have the same goal and work towards it together. A smart man and a smart woman, working towards a goal that they both share, is a beautiful (and dangerous) thing.

But it's still going to require some sacrifice on the woman's part. At some point, she's going to have to deal with some hard questions: Am I willing to just be part-of-his-thing, or will I always wish I was my own thing? Wouldn't I accomplish so much more without being weighed down with kids and all the things that accompany marriage? What if he shifts focus--do I go along with him or strike out on my own?

Sometimes a woman must choose between "greatness" and goodness, between success and happiness. All the media coverage goes for the successful, but I still think I'd rather choose happiness.


Kevin & Amy said...

Good thoughts. -Amy

Amey said...

Hi! Thanks for posting your thoughts on this article! I thought the results of the study wasn't too surprising. The main theory I had about this study was that society actually pushes girls who get good grades in school to go to college to pursue a career. After they get their degree, even if women feel the "pull" to get married and "just stay at home" for the husband and children, society pressures them to stay with the career over family because otherwise "it would be such a waste" (if I had a nickel for every time I heard that comment!). These women who give in to that pressure are the ones who have difficulties getting married. If a man is raised to believe he should provide for his family, he certainly doesn't want to marry a woman who needs just as much support as he does. This goes right along with what you already wrote, but I just had to give my 2 cents! :-)

Amey said...

Just realized the grammatical error on my last comment: the results WEREN'T surprising. I hate finding mistakes like that in the stuff I write.