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Advice for Half-Science Couples

Suzanne Kennedy at Bitesize Bio offers some anecdotes and advice for couples in which only one partner is a scientist. First, she says, the non-scientist spouse doesn’t understand "that your job doesn't end at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. or 8 p.m.," or that "when you say you're leaving in five minutes, you actually mean five minutes after the gel is done, you wrote up your result in your notebook, and you sent an e-mail to your boss." Living with a non-scientist isn't "all bad," though. Kennedy says that it's refreshing to "spend much less time complaining about work," and talk about things other than new products and poorly written papers over dinner. She suggests that scientists in relationships with non-scientists should, among other things, be consistently late in getting home so that their partners can plan for it, try to devote one hour to watching TV with their partners, "even if you can't stand the show they want to watch… leave the research articles on the floor, engage yourself in the action," and leave their computers at home when going on vacations. If you must bring your computer, she says, it's best to only check e-mails when your partner is in the shower, getting ice, or otherwise away. Also, she says it's best not to bring a non-scientist spouse to science-only functions. "Only bring your spouse to functions where everyone else is bringing their non-scientist spouse," she suggests. "This way they have someone to talk to who has some idea of what is going on outside the world of science."

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