One of my very best friends got married last weekend. On my way home from her wedding I started thinking about the similarities of getting married and doing math.
1. Doing it while other people watch can make you nervous.
Being at the board or being at the altar is a freaky experience. The pressure’s on.
2. Taking classes can make you better at it.
Couples counseling, Marriage Encounter and marital classes are available. You learn stuff. You grow.
If you find the right math class, you can improve your math learning. Even if you find the wrong math class, you’ll learn something. And grow.
3. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
Anyone who’s ever been married will tell you there are challenges. And sometimes those challenges are downright painful. But sticking together and pushing through will make your marriage stronger.
And every math student will tell you there are challenges. Even students to which math seems natural can hit walls. If you push through, you’ll be a stronger math student.
4. It’s about communication. Sometimes.
There are two parts to love and marriage: your feelings, and the communication of those feelings. If you don’t have both, your marriage is doomed.
There are two parts to mathematics: the math itself, and the communication of the math. What we teach is really only the communication of math. But if a student doesn’t have a basic understanding of the math itself, his mathematical success is doomed.
5. Some people are better for you than other people.
If you’ve ever been in a bad relationship, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a similar feeling when you have to sit through a math class with a teacher who’s mean, intellectually inferior, or smells bad.
Choosing a good partner in math learning is important. So is a choosing a good partner in life.
6. Trial and error is involved. A lot.
Marriage involves trial and error. With a heavy emphasis on error.
You’re going to mess up. But each time you err, try again. Learning and growing is part of the marriage process.
For math: ditto.
7. Going all in makes a big difference.
When you get married you make a huge commitment. On the outside.
If you also make that huge commitment on the inside, with your heart and soul and all your being, your marriage will be better for it.
For math, you can buy books, hire tutors, sign-up for classes. But you have to make the commitment, on a heart and soul level, to go all in.
8. It can be frightening and intimidating.
Marriage is a huge commitment. It means vulnerability – full out. And that’s pretty scary.
Children learn early on, for better or worse, that grown-ups expect right answers when they do math. And since there’s an awful lot of failure in math, this means serious vulnerability.
(And for some, doing math is a lot more scary than getting married!)
9. It’s tough, but if you stick with it, it pays off.
Marriage is hard. Really hard. Mostly because of that vulnerability thing, though. As you push through, your marriage gets better.
Math is hard. Sort of. And strangely, it’s because of the vulnerability thing. Once you settle in and embrace the failures as learning moments, your math learning skyrockets.
10. Joking about how dreadful it is can be damaging to your children.
If you talk about your marriage as if it’s the albatross around your neck, your kids will grow up believing it.
If you talk about math like it’s frightening and weird, your kids will believe that too.
So don’t. For either.
Congrats! You’re in the club!
It’s a whole new ballgame from here. But if you can be a math student, you can tackle the marriage thing!
Congratulations, Theresa and JP.
May you have a wonderful life together!
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