How to be a properly loving geek

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Marriage is kind of like a complicated board game . . .

Yesterday, I wrote a post designed to help spouses understand their geeks a little bit better.  The basic gist was that, by bearing with your geek a little, it can make him or her a little happier.  A happier geek is more apt to go out of his or her way to make you happy too, so it’s kind of a win-win.

Last night, my wife pointed out that my loving geek post was a little one-sided, which is perfect because I had already been planning on writing this follow-up.  She gave me quite the segue (and some motivation).

Keep reading for some tips I have for my fellow geeks to keep spouses happy.

Before we begin, you should really read my last post.  There’s a disclaimer (sort of) in there about how geeks are human, everyone’s perceptions are different, and the term “geek” itself is nearly impossible to fully define.

Also, this post is designed to be something of a counterpoint to the last one.

Aaaand here we go:

  • Don’t let your hobbies consume you
    If you’re anything like me, you get very into your various hobbies and interests.  You’ll sit down to play a game, and be totally content doing it for three, four, or more hours. Here’s the thing, though.  You have responsibilities and (for us married/in a relationship geeks) someone that you love to spend time with.  You can’t forget about that stuff, no matter how immersive whatever you’re doing is.

    I’m not saying that you should stop doing the things you love.  No, what you should do is keep up with your responsibilities and then play.  Take a break from time to time if you’ve got a LOT to do, but make sure progress is being made.

    More importantly, remember the fact that spending time with your significant other is actually kind of awesome.  Why else would you be with them?  Play your games, build your computers, do whatever, but make sure you’re also getting time with the people you love.  It’s important, and everyone will be happier (including you) because of it.

    In short, I absolutely love table top games and Mass Effect, but Amanda (my wife) beats the tar out of both activities.  I will always pick her over any of my geeky loves.  Make sure your significant other knows that, and life will be grand.

  • Understand that not everyone wants to know everything
    When you spouse asks you a question like, “What’s that noise coming from my car when I hit a bump?”  Do not answer with a 35 minute explanation of how the suspension system works so that he or she can understand the exact nature, cause, and solution to repairing the noise unless he or she is as much of a car geek as you are.

    My answer would go something like this, “It’s probably the tie-rod end, which is the thing that ties the steering wheel to your wheels.  I’ll get it checked out.”  Even that might be too much information, but it’s enough that I’m satisfied, and it’s not so much that Amanda gets irritated and tunes me out.

    Only clarify if follow-up questions are asked.  This is what I like to call the “danger zone,” however, because I tend to interpret those as permission to tell Amanda everything there is to know about suspension and steering.  Clarification is just clarification, keep your answers short and to the point.  Let your significant other do the digging–he or she will if there’s interest there.

  • Ask for help in unfamiliar social situations
    Like I said in the last post, us geeks aren’t (as a rule) socially inept.  However, if your significant other has differing interests from you, chances are you’ll find yourself attending events with which you’re not familiar.For instance, I never really went to “fancy” restaurants before I met my wife.  Now we do on a fairly regular basis, and I rely on Amanda’s input on what to wear, what some of the things on the menu are, and things like that.  I’m unashamed, and our love of truly good food has turned me into a food geek (one of the geeky loves Amanda and I share).

    You don’t have to be uncomfortable, just don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know (which is a good rule for life in general).

  • Don’t try to push anyone into geekdom
    Look, your significant other just isn’t going to be interested in all of the things you are.  Quite frankly, that is a good thing.  You should have your own interests because if you were both always interested in the same exact stuff, it’d get mighty boring after a while.

    That being said, your natural instinct is probably going to be to try to get your significant other to understand why you love the things you do.  You’ll think that, with that understanding, they will love those things too, and then you can both go to ComiCon and be blissfully happy.

    Sadly, people are different by nature.  Not everyone understands just how awesome Munchkin is, or why it’s maddening how Scotty gets onto the big bad warship in Star Trek: Into Darkness.  Do NOT try to argue why these things are important.  Instead, let them slide so you can try to find common ground elsewhere.

    I said earlier that Amanda and I have become food geeks.  We love to cook, we love to find new and interesting foods, and we both geek out about it from time to time.  These symbiotic geek loves come naturally, so let them evolve.  Don’t try shoving your geek creds down anyone’s throat.

  • Try not to be absent minded
    It’s easy to get lost in a game, or a book, or some other activity.  The problem is, when you do this, you tend to forget about other stuff.

    I combat this problem with a few simple tricks.  First, I try to make sure I’ve got something accomplished before I sit down to relax in geek-world.  Whilst relaxing, I set a watch or clock somewhere where I can see it out of my peripheral vision.  I then check the watch from time-to-time to make sure time doesn’t get away from me.

    For me, simply thinking about time while I’m goofing off keeps me from losing myself in my own head.  I tend not to forget that I have to walk the dog before bed, or that I have some dishes to clean because Amanda cooked that night.  It works, if you can get yourself into the habit.

  • Join them!
    Your significant other likely engages in all sorts of activities in which you’re not really interested.  Do yourself (and your spouse) a favor and try some of them.  Keep an open mind, because you might like some of it.

    You can’t expect her or him to try out some of your geeky things if you don’t try out some of the things he or she likes too.  Trying out new things like this also encourages your significant other to try the things you want to do.  This is what we call a win-win, my fellow geeks.

And that’ll wrap up part three of my “Harmonious Household” series of posts.  I’m not sure what the next one will be about, so please (really, I mean it) make some suggestions in the comments below.

Oh, and I’m going to bug Amanda about doing a guest post in response to these posts this weekend.  We’ll see if she caves.  (No pressure, Princess.)

Let me (and others) know what you think

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