Choose Your Partner

One of my co-workers was telling me about how he found his wife. I say “found” because from what it sounds like, he seemed to be on a mission to find a specific type of person. It actually turns out that my co-worker and I went to the same university, and happened to study the same course (well, he did the single degree version, choosing to study software engineering only). He told me that he was absolutely determined not to date another programmer. He refused to spend any time in the engineering library, or in any of the computer labs, instead, he joined all the social clubs he could in the hopes of finding someone with a different specialty to him.

He ended up meeting an accountant (well, I guess she would have been a student majoring in accounting at the time), they started dating, got married, and had kids. He said that he’s really happy he met someone who doesn’t work in the same industry that he does. For one thing, they cover a larger range of necessary life skills – so he’ll never have to hire an accountant, and she’ll never have to hire IT support to fix her computer.

To each their own, I guess. It sounds like he’s really in love with his wife (so I wouldn’t say he married her for her skills or anything like that – it sounds more like a happy coincidence). From my point of view, as someone who is with someone who works in the same industry, I actually really like that we share a common vocation. Well, to be honest, it would be nice if we did have a split in skills, similar to how in every MMO we play, we both decide which crafting skills we are going to try to max, so that we cover a broad range. But realistically, I feel like the cop dating stereotype applies to more industries than you would think. Note: This is just based on my observations, as I’ve never directly asked people how they feel about their spouses working in different industries, as it sounds rude.

For starters, me and MrFodder. We both work as programmers (though technically, he is not a programmer, at least not according to his job title). Even though we both work with different technology stacks, I do like that we can share those industry-specific in-jokes with each other. I can post him funny/interesting questions I find on Stack Overflow. Or silly things from /r/programmerHumor. It also means that when I have had a frustrating day at work, or someone has come over and made a really stupid request, I can rant without having to go into encyclopedias of backstory before going into the annoying part.

Based on my from-television-series wealth of knowledge on life as a cop, it seems like there are a lot of industries where only people who are in your industry can really understand what you’re going through. I have to admit that being a programmer is probably tons less stressful than being a cop or a doctor, but it still has its own stressful moments. OK, my own job is not super stressful most of the time, but I’m pretty lucky that I get shielded from the worst of things by my project manager. I get that MrFodder’s job can be quite stressful though, as he has tighter deadlines, and more money is on the line for his projects than for mine (well, yes and no, as my projects tend to bring in a lot of money, I guess, but they don’t really cost huge, huge sums of money, nothing like the sounds of his projects). I think it’s nice that on stressful days, we can understand each other, and know when it’s time to give each other some space, or take on a few more chores than usual.

Another one of my co-workers has a non-technical wife, and sometimes I overheard them talking on the phone (well, I hear his side of the conversation). He will usually start explaining things in layman’s terms, and sometimes, he gets quite frustrated that she doesn’t seem to be grasping whatever he is trying to explain, and he’ll get frustrated and just tell her to wait for him to come home and he’ll fix it himself.

A different co-worker seems to never discuss work with his wife. I don’t know if she even knows what he does at work, it just seems like once he leaves the office, work mode is turned off. He might have spent an entire day trying to solve an issue, and be perfectly happy to discuss it with us, but at any after work activities, it’s a very curt acknowledgement of the issue and a swift subject change.

On the other hand, I have a friend who is married to someone, and they are both dentists. Judging from their Facebook posts, they seem to have a very cute relationship going, and they often post what I’m guessing are dental related jokes that they both laugh at (I don’t know, most of them often go over my head and I’m too lazy to Google them to try and understand).

Even though I am a programmer, I am a big fail whale when it comes to computer related things. I have (finally) reformatted my computer once. I installed an SSD (in a very sloppy way, it’s kind hanging on to the case by one screw because I screwed up and bought the wrong size (2.5″ instead of 3.5″)). I have forwarded one port in our home network (for Sea3D). That’s about my technical achievements for the household – all other technical issues get delegated to MrFodder because it’s too hard for me. :'( So I guess it is good that we do have that skills-based divide. Or rather, he covers skills that I do not have.

Although we realised that I am probably a better secretary than he is. Just based on the wedding stuff, I did most of the correspondence with guests, and with the various vendors we had. I am usually the one who keeps track of our schedule, and what plans we have for various weekends. Still, I feel like I need to learn some sort of practical vocation. Like fixing cars. Or plumbing. This is probably the reason why I never made it to max level in Final Fantasy XIV – I had to level all of the different crafting classes! I really do like the idea of covering lots of skills, and I don’t think I’d like to be in the kind of family where you have generations of people being in X industry. I would never force our children (if we have any) to work in IT, though I’d encourage it if they seemed interested in it. I just think it’s a waste of character slots if all of your characters are of the same class!

What do you think? Is it better to be with someone who works in the same industry as you, or someone who works in a different one?

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