My wife is working on her PhD. She’s been researching, thinking, collecting, sampling, measuring, and writing for several years now. We are in the home stretch. Seriously. But it doesn’t feel like that to her. To my wife, she’s miles away from the end. And no wonder.
The whole process is miserable and demoralizing. By its very nature, a PhD requires you to answer a question that no one else in the world has answered. That means no one can really tell you if you are right, or what’s next. You are meant to advance science. But the process is brutal. You write about what you did and also what you didn’t do, what you did wrong, and what others can/should do different or better than you. No wonder she’s questioning her intellect. Why didn’t I do it this way from the start? So, it stands to reason that my wife is umm … stressed.
I know it. I see it. But, this morning brought a new level of understanding. I was feeling frisky. Very frisky. My wife, not so much. She basically said “fine.” What a turn on, right? I joked that maybe she shouldn’t talk, to which she wryly responded a moment later by suggesting we go over our shopping list. We laughed and then in a sultry voice she cooed, “Cheddar cheese sticks…”
We began to giggle. Then more robustly. Soon, she was laughing so hard she was crying. Then she was only crying. And apologizing. Poor baby. I held her until she was all cried out. Afterwards, we both felt better – more connected, comforted, though not quite satisfied. I’ll never understand the level of her stress, but I can understand the emotions that I see. My job now is to build her up. To tell her that the questions she’s asking herself about her work don’t apply to her – not to her intellect, her worth, or her self.
It’s Butch to build up your partner – PhD or not. Be Butch.