Things I've learned from marriage that have made me a better scientist
It’s hard to believe that Josh and I will be celebrating two years of marriage this year! It seems like just yesterday we were planning the wedding, and moving to New Zealand to start life together as a married couple. It’s amazing how fast time flies! And I'm no marriage-guru (hello, it's only been two years), but I've learned a few BIG lessons in these two years that have made me a better person, wife, and scientist.
No matter how smart they are, how much they love you, or how many years you have known your significant other... they cannot read your mind. And that is much like your lab partners, your professors, your advisors, and really anyone you work with. You need to have a good relationship with those mentioned above and to constantly communicate -- be it when you are happy with results, upset that you didn't get a grant, or frustrated about whatever. They can't just guess how you are feeling. I used to get frustrated when hubby didn't know how I felt about [x] topic but it dawned on me I had never verbally told him, just thought it and assumed he knew. Communicating is the key to good relationships: so talk!
Know yourself and your worth
You have to really know yourself before you try to understand someone else. Marriage is one of the biggest forms of compromise and vulnerability... but you can't let that other person define you (and vice versa). You have to be your own person. The same goes for not letting your academic life completely define who you are. You are not your project. AAAAAAND it's okay not to always talk about science and indulge in hobbies.
Never stop learning
Marriage is a constant learning experience. And so is life! One thing I love about my career is that I am constantly learning something new and look forward to that every day I wake up. As scientists, we are driven by curiosity and passion -- and that's what drives my marriage, too. I've learned to not only be open to new ideas and ways of doing things, but to do it all with passion.
Detours are inevitable
Not everything will go as planned, and that’s okay. I’m a planner down to the deepest fibers of my being, and the more information I have to plan anything, the better. But as we all know, you can make plans A-Z and none of them may come to fruition. In marriage and science, you sometimes just have to roll with the punches and I'm a big believer that when good things fall apart, better things come together.
Stay in your own lane
You do what works for you. Be it your marriage, career, or anything else.
Your opinion is always valid
The struggle is worth it
Let the struggles bring you closer together, not tear you apart. Work it out together. Overwhelmed? Take a load off together. Let your spouse help you and vice versa. And hey! The same works with your support group and any collaborators you are working with for your career or academic life. Enjoy them outside of the lab or field or boardroom. It's nice to get away from the constant pressure. Being a scientist can be tough and is not smooth sailing - but the struggle will be worth it at the end.
Here's to the next diploma/graduation! Thanks for always supporting me.
I can't comprehend how much we've done in two short years - new jobs for both of us, our first apartment, and so many travels! I am thankful every single day for the life we live, and for who I get to live it with. Happy Anniversary, J!
Marriage has taught me so much, but I still have so much more to learn!
Melissa Cristina Márquez (@mcmsharksxx) is the Founder of the The Fins United Initiative. This story was published on May 10, 2018, on Melissa’s blog (available here) and has been republished here with her permission.
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