Post # 1
I have something I need advice/comfort about and I feel stupid turning to others about it and I can’t very well talk to FH about it so here I am. So, I know my FI is an intelligent guy, I know his IQ actually and it’s in the high-average range, I don’t question that about him. However, there’s something that bothers me a lot about him and I used to not think about it much but now that the wedding is getting closer every time it happens I think to myself, "Can I live with this?" It’s probably silly to most people but the fact is, he doesn’t have a wide vocabulary. And I don’t mean he doesn’t know totally out-there words, but a lot of less commonly used words that I personally thought everyone knew- he doesn’t know them. A lot of the time. He’s a math/science guy whereas I was an English major in college and am very well-read, so I know that explains at least part of it, but it really bugs me. I also feel like whenever I tell him word meanings or ask if he knows what a word means, he gets annoyed and thinks I’m questioning his intelligence. Am I? I’m not sure. But does it bug me? A ton.
Now, I know I’m not perfect, or the smartest person in the world by any means, but I worry about this more and more with the wedding approaching. Am I being too nit-picky? I need someone to tell me I’m being ridiculous or remind me that their FH’s have flaws like this too. I also don’t know how to address it with anyone but it’s been bothering me for quite some time now. When I talk to him about it or tell him he should look up words he doesn’t know, he gets defensive about it, and I don’t want him to think I’m putting him down. It upsets me though!! Please advise… :/ Thanks!
Post # 3
I think it’s pretty natural to pick apart little things that bug you about your fiance in the months leading up to the wedding. I hope a limited vocabulary isn’t going to be a deal breaker for you! Like you said, he’s a math/science guy, and he probably hasn’t spent tons of time reading and thereby boosting his vocabulary.
My fiance is exceptionally intelligent. Actually he’s scary smart- like the kind of smart where you stop having social skills because you’re too smart to interact with people. He has absolutely no common sense though! Like, simple things like how to load the dishwasher. One time I asked him to put a steamer basket full of vegetables into a pot, and he dumped the vegetables in the water instead of putting the steamer in! It used to really bug me, but I have realized that he can’t help who he is, and loving him means loving him completely, whether he can chop an onion or not.
Post # 4
Awww, I know you find this to be irritating but I think it sounds like a trait that would make me smile (though frustrating at times, I’m sure). Think of it as, you will always be able to teach one another new things. He may put up the defense because if he says ‘what does "blah blah" mean?’, he is likely just looking for an answer so he understands. Sometimes my FI uses the wrong word in a sentence (either because it sounds like the right word or he doesn’t know the actual meaning) and it makes me smile, but instead of busting on him too much, I just ask if he meant something else so he doesn’t get defensive.
I’m sure my post wasn’t very helpful but I guess what I’m saying is: He can learn as your relationship continues to grow. People can develop their vocabulary and knowledge quickly, but finding another "the one" could take a long time.
Post # 5
You sound like my boyfriend & I. He is a very intelligent man, and blows me away with how he can do math in his head, or figure out fractions when he’s measuring planks of wood to build with. And while he can have a super intelligent sounding conversation with anyone, he is not a reader…so he misuses words sometimes.
But, instead of it bothering me, I actually find it endearing, because I KNOW how smart he is, and I know that he is not the bookworm that I am. So we actually help one another with it, he helps me figure out math/money questions in an instant, and he asks me the meaning of words "Hey hon, did I use this word right? What word do I want to say when I want to get this point across?".
We look at it as a really cool thing because when we have children, he will be able to help with the math homework, and I will be able to help with the English/reading homework. It’s a wonderful complimentary relationship, we each bring a strength that the other lacks so together…we’re unstoppable!
Have you told him that you think he is a very intelligent man? Make sure he understands that you feel that way about him, so that way he doesn’t get offended.
Sometimes (I know I do it – Mr H will call me on it) even I’m trying to help, if I don’t say it in the right way, it can offend. It sounds like it’s just coming across a little differently to your FI, so I would have a talk with him to see what works for him, that way you can be helpful to one another, without being critical or hurting feelings.
Post # 6
i’m totally the same way with my guy. I’m very academic and he is a musican! Sometimes he will talk about complicated musical theory that just blows me away though, and he patiently listens while I explain chemistry. Just remember it is what you don’t have in common that keeps you from marrying yourself
Post # 7
You know, I agree with GaBGal, monalisa. My FI and I both like to consider ourselves smart, but in completely different ways. I’m what’s considered "book smart," meaning I spent most of my life in the top of my class, straight A student, etc., etc. My FI, on the other hand, is "street smart," meaning he can MacGuyver pretty much anything in any situation, and has wonderful common sense.
At first, it was irritating to me as well when he would use the wrong word in a sentence or ask me what things meant, but then I realized that we’re just different, and it makes us who we are. We are strong in different ways, and we learn from one another. We joke now that if we had met in high school, we would have never spoken to one another, since I was a total nerd/geek and he was a skater! 🙂
Try to think of how your FI excels in what he knows(math and science) and how smart he sounds when you talk about things like that with him. My FI has a business degree and when he talks about it, I have no idea what’s going on. I know it makes him proud to teach me something and helps build our relationship together(I am a M.D. – my FI sometimes feels bad that he doesn’t "measure up.") I make sure I always let him know I am proud of what he’s good at, and that I do not focus on small things.
You fell in love with your FI for the big things – remind yourself of what those are and you’ll probably laugh about how silly it is to focus on his vocabulary! 🙂
Post # 8
What kinds of words are you talking about? You two are very likely to rub off on each other. And I think that people who don’t read much are likely to have limited vocabularies. If he’s interested in sports, get a subscription to Sports Illustrated. That’s great journalism in my opinion, or a car magazine too.
That curiosity aside, I will share that my FI has some flaws too, as do I, and I think it’s the weight of our upcoming commitment as well as the stress of planning the party that is making me ask your question: "can I live with this forever?" But it’s silly stuff, like you seem to know your example is, and when I’m more relaxed (and more myself) it doesn’t bother me. He crunches on chips, he works late, he is all the sudden obsessed with Wii baseball — and all of that irritates me like crazy. But I can’t even think about everything I’m doing that irritates him!
Post # 9
Thanks ladies, I’m feeling better- it always fades when I step away and realize all the wonderful things about him that I wouldn’t trade in for the world! Plus I know that I honestly couldn’t pass a 3rd grade math test at this point in my life, whereas he’s a numbers guy. It’s just always rough in the moment but you guys gave great advice, esp regarding how to look at it as a balancing act, essentially. He works in IT and is very handy, can fix anything, and I am clueless about almost everything like that! So, I will just try to be careful not to offend him next time he doesn’t know a word.. I feel bad, I’m just always really surprised because I know he’s smart so it’s just really weird. But I guess everyone is different and he is less verbal than I am!
@Angeldoc.. I’d be interested to hear more of your experience with your FI feeling like he’s not "measuring up"…Sometimes I feel that my FI gets defensive because I am currently getting my PhD (in clinical psych) and he, though he graduated college, has not gotten any advanced degrees. And maybe this is also why I get hung up on it.. I am surrounded by brilliant, well-spoken people 24/7 so I’m extra-aware of his difficulties with words/expressing himself?
@Mary Alice Me – Oh, I can’t think of a lot of examples off the top of my head but it ranges from words that many people wouldn’t know to those that I just thought everyone knew. It also ranges from him having no clue to knowing the general idea or connotation of the word, but not the exact meaning. The word that made me think about this again tonight was esoteric. The other funny thing is that he DOES read things- right now he is really into Theology vs. Science literature.. stuff that is way above me.. but I think he just skims over words he doesn’t know? Ahh.. I don’t know!! It’s weird! That’s why I needed to vent!
Post # 10
- Wedding: September 2010 - Jewel Box in Forest Park and Windows on Washington
I’m with GabGal on this one. You could definitely use it as a reason to teach him something new each day/week/month/year. We all have our flaws, as you mention, and I am sure with the wedding coming up that tensions and stress are high. Try not to let it bother you so much and maybe turn it into a positive!
Post # 11
My FI has a B.A. in business management, and is almost two years older than me. I am in residency training as a child and adolescent psychiatrist, and have a medical doctorate degree. As you can imagine, when we first met, this was certainly a sticking point. Ironically, it was never as much of an issue for me as it was for my family(I’m Taiwanese…so it’s all about the man being equal or "better" than the woman) and for my FI. In his case, he admitted to me recently than he used to worry about me realizing that I could "find a rich, smart, successful doctor" to marry instead of him. He felt really threatened – not necessarily by how much more money I would make – by my intelligence and how much it (perceived by him) exceeded his own.
I will admit that at the beginning, I wondered if this would be an issue as well. However, after spending more time getting to know him and realizing that he is intelligent in his own right(try spending more than 15 minutes talking business and you know what I mean), I decided it was silly to dwell on it. I decided then that it was up to me to change his mind about his own fears.
I would ask your FI if he has similar thoughts – perhaps he is internally afraid of letting you down, or embarassing himself with your peers and friends. Maybe he is afraid of losing you to someone "smarter," like my FI was. When my friends and I get together, we can’t help but talk shop, meaning medicine. He tends to have little technical knowledge to contribute, but he has found his own ways of entering the conversation(he likes to talk about healthcare reform and politics) and showing his smarts.
I would try to bring up the topic gently, like maybe mentioning that you notice he seems to get a little frustrated or upset and that you would like to hear about why he feels that way. It may open up a channel of communication and give him a way to express how he really feels.
Either way, remember that no matter what, he loves you the way you are, PhD and all, and he wants to spend the rest of his life with you. Be positive and compliment him about his accomplishments, and assure him that you understand that intelligence comes in many forms.
I hope this helps! Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss if further!
Post # 12
Somethings are learning over time and with age. Language only gets better as we age and read more and hear more.
My FH is crazy smart but I am the math mind. He was the "soft sciences" kind of guy in college and I am pretty certain his vocabulary is better than mine, his spelling certainly is. However, my science vocabulary is greater than his. But we love that we learn from each other.
We are so different yet have enough similarities that we are completed interested in how each other thinks.
It will pass. I am not saying his vocabulary will improve overnight but the more he is around you the better it will get.
The FH and I actually read to each other everynight. We take turns, one night is his and the other mine, but we can take a pass and one of us will just read two nights in a row. I think this could also help with sharing vocabulary. Pick a book you like to start with and one you think he might enjoy.
Dive in and have fun. I wouldn’t harp on his vocabulary to him, just saying, there is a theory that women want love and men seek respect. If he doesn’t get respect, you won’t get the love you want.
Post # 13
my man isn’t the greatest speller, and sometimes when i use words while speaking he will ask me what they mean but i chalk this up to the fact taht we grew up in different areas, had different schooling, etc. He is extremely intelligent and could give impromptu speeches that would rival any great speaker, but hes just not a great speller. Monalisa, i woudn’t worry about this. everytime you teach him a new word, make an effort to get to have him teach you something that he is well versed in (that you are not.) Not only will it make you realize how intellectually sexy your man is, but it will keep your mind off of concentrating on this tiny flaw. WE ALL HAVE FLAWS HUN!!!!! 🙂
Post # 14
Sorry I missed this post earlier…but I can totally relate. We both have PhD’s in physics, but I was also an English major. I always tease him for being a "philistine"…to which he asks, "What’s a philistine?" Making my point for me:)
fizicsGuy doesn’t tend to get defensive about it though…I wouldn’t tease him if it did bother him. He is, though, mildly dislexic which is probably why he didn’t read a lot as a child. I read tons, though, which I’ve heard is one thing that really boosts your vocabulary. My BIL teases my sister and I b/c we often mispronounce somewhat obscure words…he says that’s a sign of having learnt words primarily by reading them. Anyway, my point is that there are all kind of reasons that you might have a larger vocab than he does, most probably have little to do with his intelligence.
I would add that there is no reason that excelling at math and science means you automatically don’t/can’t have good verbal skills. Many (most?) of the most successful physicists I know (incl. Nobel Laureates) are also excellent public speakers and communicators…being able to successfuly write and talk about your research kind of goes hand-in-hand with being recognized for it. I’m saying this b/c I think it’s an excuse a lot of math/science people hide behind. It may be that he gets defensive b/c it is a place where he actually does feel inadequate; he may even feel it holds him back. A good friend/colleague of mine does not have very strong innate verbal skills and is also not a native English speaker. He struggles with public speaking and writing. He also knows this has hurt his career progress, but it’s also very difficult for him b/c he’s used to being really good at stuff and able to do it quickly. I don’t know how best to approach your FI about this, but it may be worth finding out. To me, when a person gets defensive it’s a good sign that you’ve struck a nerve. If he was content in his lack of vocab, he wouldn’t care.
I also think the jealousy/inadequacy thing is important to address head-on. It’s the sort of thing that can only fester. Maybe he really needs to hear you say those wonderful things about him. Maybe he needs to explore why he has a problem with your having an advanced degree (if indeed he does have one). If he does, it’s highly unlikely that it actually has much to do with you.
Post # 15
I have always been the super academic one, top of my class, blah blah. But thats just me, I was raised that school is what you do and you best be good at it. He was raised as "well you did your best" and he got his GED opposed to a diploma and tried a few semesters at college then quit, while I recently graduated with a BS in Business and Economics.
It used to drive me crazy that he literally could not spell. Now it makes me smile when he uses the completely wrong word in a sentence because he thinks it sounds good or completely botches a sweet note he wrote me.
I quickly learned that all of his energy goes towards street smarts. He cares about things other than academics. For example he will get on the internet and research whatever his topic of the week is and completely learn how to rebuild whatever car it is or how to make one of these or fix one of those.
We are complete opposites and it makes for a great learning process for both of us. I am still trying to teach him the difference between good and well haha but it makes each of us feel important because we can teach each other new things from time to time.
Post # 16
I can totally relate! My FI is intelligent but he has really bad memory! The thing that bugs me most is that he doesn’t have a good memory of places he has been to and way of how to get there. B4 I started dating him seriously, I was so adamant that the Y chromosome must encode a great sense of direction or he’s not the man for me. Of course, that opinion is history.
Now, although there r so many other qualities of him that I treasure, I can’t count the # of times I was flabberghasted when he told me he has no idea where or how to get to this restaurant or bar or friend’s place that he just went to a month ago, a week ago, or even yesterday!!! I doubt I’m the one who has super good memory or sense of direction but I have always thought that real men should be better than I at least in this aspect. Oh well, my jaw still drops everytime he tells me "I don’t remember," & I just shake my head and tell myself that God makes different ppl so we all complement each other…