Intellectual Equality

I really find it to be delightful the way we can better articulate our priorities as we get older. As a younger person, I was determined that the person I married would have a university degree (or be well on his way to getting one). As an adult, and conveniently married to the best man on the planet for seven years, I have a better understanding of what it actually is that I was looking for in a life-long partner.

First, I wanted someone who could clearly demonstrate his commitment to something bigger than himself. Pursuing, and completing, a 4-year degree would certainly demonstrate that he could follow through on his commitments.

Second, I wanted someone who was my intellectual equal. I blame “Sabrina, The Teenage Witch” for planting this idea in my head that those who completed a trade program could absolutely not be smart. I admit to searching for a clip but was unable to find one. But there is a scene from that show etched into my mind – Sabrina and Harvey are married. Sabrina has a successful law career that is lucrative and intellectually stimulating. Harvey is a mechanic who makes almost no money and is dumb as a bag of rocks. Sabrina is miserable because she can’t talk to her husband. As an adult I can see that this portrayal is ridiculous. Mechanics are smart and make a lot of money. They’re also generally cleaner than we give them credit for.

Regardless of degree, intellectual equality is important in a relationship. There will be times when the physical fails due to exhaustion or poor health. There will be times when you are pulled away from each other by the demands of your shared life. The ability to stay connected and have a meaningful conversation is what will keep your relationship going, even when the other things fall by the wayside for a season.

Have there been times when being on an equal intellectual footing has helped you in your personal and professional relationships?


Photo by Aliis Sinisalu on Unsplash


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3 thoughts on “Intellectual Equality

  1. I couldn’t possibly be in a serious relationship with a partner who I didn’t learn from and grow with. When I think of “intellectual equal” that’s what I think of–am I learning from this person? Do we have something to offer each other that continues to build over time? Professionally, I’ve worked with a lot of extraordinarily smart people. But, they are smart in really different ways. One of my favorite people at a job ten years or so ago was the fellow who got up every morning to plough the parking lots of multiple bank branches. He could fix anything, and he loved the work. We didn’t have long intellectual conversations, but we had mutual, and equal respect for the work the other did. In many cases, I don’t see it as “intellectual equality” but rather, mutual respect and admiration. Though I see your point: having a best friend, at work or at home, that connects with me on many levels is the joy of life.

    1. You really summed up this post so succinctly! Yes, you need to have a partner that you can learn and grow from. My mom sometimes said to me that the person you choose to spend you life with should make you want to be a better version of yourself. Not maliciously, but that just being around them would natrually make you want to be better.

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