Being in a relationship with a teacher is great; I know because I’m married to one. No one works harder. No one is more motivated. And no one is more ready and willing to correct poor grammar. Nevertheless, here are a few things you’ll definitely recognize if you’re a teacher spouse or in a relationship with a teacher.
- You can’t go anywhere without someone recognizing them.
Think about how many students a teacher interacts with every single year. For middle school and high school teachers, this number can be huge. Even grade school teachers interact with and are recognized by many more students than the ones in their classroom. It’s seriously impossible to go undetected in public when you work in or know someone who works in education. Don’t try; you’ll fail.
- Your dinner dates will constantly be interrupted.
Think Friday night means it’s time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the company of your significant other at that new restaurant? Don’t bet on it. Just as the waiter is bringing your herb-crusted, non-GMO, something-or-other to the table, your beloved will likely see an email from little Johnny’s father lambasting the fact that Johnny only got a 98 on the last pop quiz. Or a text from their principal that can’t wait until later. And you’ll sip your wine in solitude and check your Twitter feed while your spouse performs educational triage in the parking lot.
- It’s easy to take conversations with adults for granted.
I go to the office every morning. And talk to adults. And work with adults. But my wife doesn’t. She goes for hours at a time every day without conversing with anyone over the age of 13. When we’re both home, sometimes I catch her staring at me with an odd look, hanging on my every word while I talk about some mundane conversation I had at the office. She’ll interrupt me. “You mean NOBODY in your office had horrible BO? Or cried because their girlfriend broke up with them? Or inexplicably fell out of their chair while you were talking to them? You’re so lucky!” Lucky indeed.
- No one needs a good listener like a teacher.
Just like you talk about your day, they need to talk about theirs. And remember, they don’t have a lot of adult conversation throughout the day. Planning periods often disappear, and after-school time is taken up with planning, meetings, and other activities. When you’re a teacher, adult conversation isn’t just something you want—like Starbucks, a new car, or a million dollars. It’s something you desperately need—like water, air, and hand sanitizer during flu season. So if your loved one seems a little too eager to converse with another adult, then cut them some slack. They need someone to talk to.
- Your spouse will always be a better parent than you.
I’ve been a dad for years now, and I like to think that I have this parenthood thing down pat. But I have nothing on my wife. Her daily focus is getting the best out of dozens of kids, making them do things they don’t want to do and providing a hundred types of support in a thousand different ways. Every time I think I’ve had some type of amazing breakthrough with my kids (got all of our kindergarten sight words on the first try!), I quickly realize it’s because she’s already laid the groundwork (reading with them since they were six weeks old!). Sometimes it’s easy to forget how great a teacher she is. But then I look at what she’s done with our children, and I remember.
- You will get roped into saving toilet paper rolls, decorating a door, and helping with other projects.
It starts off small. The class is doing a seed-starting project, and they need toilet paper rolls. Pretty soon, you’re saving them at work, too, and all your coworkers are dropping off their rolls in your cube.
Anyone in a relationship with a teacher knows that there’s an unspoken rule about helping out with decorating, cutting out Box Tops, and collecting toilet paper rolls. When they have a classroom duty, it pretty much means you’ll be helping out. And you should. After all, they put in so much overtime and thought into making their classroom the best it can be. Cutting out paper snowflakes in winter or stapling welcome packets at the beginning of the year is the least you can do.
- Nobody multitasks like a teacher.
Until I married my wife, I had never seen someone who could simultaneously cook, soothe a crying baby, talk on the phone, and make lesson plans. But then I realized her day is full of doing a thousand things at the same time. She reads, teaches, conducts parent conferences, referees, participates in faculty meetings, plans summer school, and coaches the flag football team, and she still finds some way to squeeze in bathroom breaks, all while managing a horde of hormonal preteens. And I thought mowing the lawn while holding a beer was a big deal.
- You will never EVER win an argument about work.
Me: Man, I had a rough day at work. My morning meeting didn’t go well, I have a big project due tomorrow, and our yearly reviews are coming up.
Her: A kid in my first period class farted so much I had to teach in the gym for the rest of the day.
- Your spouse will never be the only teacher in your life.
Teachers flock to other teachers. It’s a scientific fact. Any party we go to, my wife subconsciously seeks out the other teachers there. It’s like her ears are tuned to the word “pre-planning.” And then she spends the evening in deep conversation with someone she’s never met while I hover by the punch bowl and blink at the wall. The number of adults in my life who are educators is obscene. On the bright side, I appreciate a fully-functioning photocopier more than I ever thought possible.
- Your spouse is a hero who saves the world every single day.
I could never be a teacher. And I know I’m not in the minority. Many people don’t realize it, but being a teacher is challenging and tedious and about as unglamorous as a profession can be. But my wife doesn’t care. She does it in spite of little recognition, low pay, and long hours. (Three months off in the summer isn’t a thing, okay? My wife has maybe three weeks in July when she is completely disconnected from school, and she spends those planning for the coming year.)
It’s more than a job. It’s a calling. A way to make the world a better place at a fundamental, actionable level. And I feel lucky to see it happen on a daily basis.