Engineering makes a good marriage

So this is it. In just under a month I’ll be sitting in the Georgia Dome waiting for some person to call my name so I can go shake Dr. Clough’s hand. With the coming departure of a President who will surely go down as one of the Institute’s greatest, I feel lucky that I’ll be in the last class to graduate under Clough’s stewardship.

If you’ve read any of my previous editorials, you no doubt know I’m married.

I must say that Tech has prepared me pretty well for the married life. It certainly hasn’t made me any good at sharing my feelings, and I can’t tell you why a woman does what she does. But my experience seems to indicate that the qualities that would turn someone into a good engineer also make him a decent husband. Here are the top five ways Tech prepares a man for marriage.

5. You are never right. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at a test I just got back and seen a score that just so happened to be very close to my age, and I’m not one of those creepy old guys sitting at the front of the classroom.

Seeing a grade in the low 20s definitely hurts the self-esteem.

Now that I’m married, though, it’s kind of nice to have had so much practice. When you’re wife tells you something and you disagree, just keep your mouth shut, you’re wrong. When there’s something you want but your wife thinks is an “unwise investment,” just forget about it.

4. Even when you’re right, you’re wrong. If you add up all the weeks you’ve spent working on homeworks over your career at Tech, the sum probably numbers in the weeks, and that’s if you get done in four years. I’ve heard horror stories about 10-, 20- and even 30-hour homeworks.

Apparently there’s a betting pool among professors to see who can give the most hellish assignments.

In any case, I’ve often found myself about to fall asleep at 3:00 in the morning after studying for a test I have the next day when I remember the homework that’s due at 8:00 in the morning. Now, some people would get up and go do that homework, but it would probably adversely affect their test performance. I’ve never been much for homework, though, so I just consign myself to a zero on it and go to sleep. Either way I’m screwed, so I justify it to myself that the test is more important.

Here’s a lesson that I quickly learned as a married man: sleeping with your wife is always more important.

Don’t try and prove your wife wrong. Sure, you might enjoy the glory of finally winning an argument for about five minutes, but when she throws your pillow on the couch, your mood will change in a hurry. And then when bedtime comes around, well, let’s just say you won’t be a happy camper.

3. There is never enough time in the day to do everything you want to.

I dare say that no student at Tech has been able to make it through the four (or more) years needed to earn a degree without sacrificing at least some of the things they enjoy. Sure, early in the semester you may have plenty of time to study for all your classes, do some pleasure reading, watch Lost and carry on a relationship.

As the tests, homeworks and projects start to build up, some things must fall to the wayside. First it’s the reading. After all, the book will be here come summer. Then it’s the daily review of your notes and the dutiful completion of all the assigned readings. If worst comes to worst, you just might have to put your relationship on hold (we all have to have priorities, right).

Marriage is much the same way. In the beginning, your wife will be used to all the activities you enjoy and the ways you like to spend your time. As the anniversaries go by and the “Honey-do” list grows longer, your wants and desires become second to the work that needs to be done around the home.

You start to see your friends less and less. Eventually, the only shows you watch on TV are those that you can watch “together” (Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives).

Any time that isn’t spent at work or with your wife is spent mowing the lawn, cutting down trees, painting walls and washing dishes. I guess it’s not so bad. At least I’m used to not having any time.

2. No matter how much you whine, no one’s listening. Tech has somehow masterfully crafted a student population that will complain to no end in a completely anonymous and completely worthless forum (Slivers anyone?), but when it comes to actually doing something about it, you’ll be lucky to get a fifth of the whiners to respond.

Much like Tech, my wife has become completely immune to any complaining I may do.

She doesn’t care if I don’t want to do something that needs to be done. Phrases like “I’m too tired” and “Let’s just do it tomorrow” have completely stopped fazing her. I can’t say I blame her, though, because I complain a lot.

1. Books make terrible cuddlers. When you’ve spent the last five hours reading your Thermodynamics textbook because there’s a test tomorrow, it’s very easy to fall asleep on it from the sheer mind-numbing boredom of enthalpy and entropy. This is not a good thing.

You will not simply absorb the information contained in the book through some bizarre head-book interface, and when you come home from your test, the text book will not console you by telling you that yes, you’re still intelligent, despite the fact that you only answered four of the 10 questions on the test. Nor will a book hold you while you’re crying because you had to drop High-Speed Aerodynamics for the third time.

If you’re lucky enough to have someone who will, don’t piss her off. Otherwise she may not be there when you really need her.

Now, I’m not saying that Tech is like a woman, but, well, I guess I am saying that. So treat her like one. Love her, cradle her tenderly and do everything she wants you to.

If you’re good, you might just get a happy ending.