If you’re like me, you’re married to one brilliant man. He’s a genius, really. The first clue: he married me. I kid, I kid. No, seriously. (Ha. I’m kidding again!) Anyway, this smart guy taught himself all about computers by taking one apart and putting it back together again. He became a self-taught IT network engineer and could fix the moon if NASA called him. And yet, his decisions, or lack of, in some areas of life leave many people scratching their heads, completely baffled. This has caused many a marital spat, and I’m finding that other wives come up against the same perplexing dilemma: How can a smart guy be so dumb at times?
Poor health habits, bad financial decisions, risky lifestyle activities, thoughtless actions, professional suicide, social gaffes, just plain brain farting that ends up costing money or angst. There are myriads of seemingly bonehead moves otherwise intelligent men make. After pondering upon this, I finally get it.
There are different types of intelligence
According to psycho-development theorist Howard Gardner, there are nine types of human intelligence. A man can show unrivaled aptitude in, for example, math and science with very little understanding of interpersonal relationships. Another man can be highly skilled in relating to nature while lacking linguistic intelligence and the ability to comprehend the many nuances of human language. I see that my husband is high in as many as seven types of intelligence and now I understand when he makes less-enlightened decisions in his weak areas.
What is common sense to you is not common sense to him
Because of our different types of intelligence, what one might see as “common sense” is not so easily comprehended by the other. We often consider others to be irrational just because they don't think as we do. My husband thinks that everything should be determined by logic and logic alone, dismissing the importance of the human element. I maintain that we humans should be allowed to be human and that involves enjoying the wide range of human emotions and possibilities. I remind him that even computers, for today at least, rely upon human input. To err is human, and to be human is divine. He still doesn’t like it but he finally understands that “common” sense is not so common not only because humans were intentionally designed to be unique but there is no agreed upon definition for what constitutes common sense! What doesn’t make sense is to demand that everyone think alike.
At their core, people subconsciously avoid pain at all costs
I often quote Anthony Robbins because his study into human motivation reveals brilliant and simple truths, one of which is that the human brain is hard-wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Every decision we make is based upon this primal principle whether or not we recognize it. For example, a man will avoid the pain of job or financial woes by escaping through activities that soothe his fears. Every life decision can be broken down to either avoiding pain or seeking pleasure. Even going to a disliked job (pain) will be tolerated as long as it isn’t as painful as the alternative of being jobless (greater pain). An addiction won’t be addressed until the pain of indulging outweighs the pleasure of indulging. Bad habits and poor decisions are based upon this.
Even smart men have subconscious fears
We all have unresolved issues that trip us up in life, and while men don’t acknowledge theirs, the evidence appears when they do uncharacteristically dumb things. Without having to go to counseling to get to the root of their deep-seated motivations, you can alleviate a lot of frustration by knowing that there are reasons for his beliefs and actions and try to accept them. Being in a marriage means covering for each other's weaknesses. Together, my husband and I can cover all the bases of life challenges between our strengths and weaknesses.
Instead of getting angry with your spouse for what you perceive to be senseless decisions, try to understand that this imperfect being is doing the best he can for this moment. Having compassion can ease the tension, and when you have your own moments of dim-wittedness, he will be as patient and tolerant as you’ve shown him how to be.