I don’t know if it is pure coincidence, but an inordinate number of my clients are married to or are engineers. Many of my women clients, who complain about their marriages, tell me that their husbands are engineers and I don’t think that is a coincidence. So it made me wonder what is it about these engineers that create problems in their marriages? That’s an easy question for me to answer, because I have been living with those same problems for a very long time.
Now, it is not unusual for people with vastly different personalities, education levels, and backgrounds to meet, fall in love and go on to create long and fulfilling marriages. The truth is, opposites do attract, and with two tolerant people, with good communication skills and a solid commitment to making their relationship work, their marriages will work too.
So, let’s talk about that engineer. He is obviously a well-educated man, often faithful and hard working. He is a “solid” husband and those married to them feel that degree of comfort. He is rarely a good communicator and is not romantic. He may love you deeply, but his way of showing it is to come home every night and make a decent salary. He believes that fixing the faucet more than makes up for the lack of those sentimental words. He is a good father, but has trouble getting beyond the household rules and regulations that their children must follow. He is not necessarily rigid, but he does like to know that his ducks are in a row. He believes that rules are in place for a reason and need to be followed.
Women who are married to these men often complain that they can’t have an intimate conversation with their husbands. They have trouble getting them to talk about what they see as something missing in the marriage. For him, there’s nothing missing, as long as life moves along smoothly. The wives feel that it is really hard to expand a conversation to talk about feelings, because feelings can’t be fixed, and they are “fixers.” They are trained to look carefully at the problem, and methodically find the solution to it. Unfortunately, problems in relationships aren’t fixable that way. You can’t throw it up on your computer and come up with a solution. You can’t shy away from showing and sharing feelings, and there is no scientific method, with equations or testing procedures, that will make things better. Emotions are not a hands-on problem.
There is something unusual in the way that so many women believe that having an engineering background means their husbands know better. Thus, many wives simply let these husbands make the decisions, especially the big ones. Therein lies the hard and fast truth as to why these wives are unhappy in their marriages. If he knows better, where does that put you?
Although it is maddening at times, and I wish just once, he would color outside of the lines, I find the challenge of being married to an engineer well worth putting up with the stuff he simply doesn’t have. It is impossible to change them, but changing ourselves into an accepting spouse and letting them be themselves is the best you can do. If you wanted a poet, you shouldn’t have married an engineer.
JoAnna Wogulis is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a life coach with a private practice in Solvang. You can reach her at 350-1653 or
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