Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Chemistry: A Love Story

A small tribute to the many, many
hours she waited for me in the lab.
Photo credit:
Warning: an overly personal post about spouses and chemistry

In a recent post, I was asked the following tough question:
How did you decide that it was the right time to start a family or, more fundamentally, get serious with a relationship?
Geez, how do you write about that on a chemistry blog? I think the first question is easier answered than the second, and I don't even really know if I can answer it other than to talk about my own relationship with my wife. I think by the time that I met her, I knew what I wanted in a mate (and what I really, really did not want.)

She and I share so many core values about family, faith and practical matters; over our courtship, it was quite clear that she was the one. Over the next five years, she listened to me worry out loud about finding a postdoc, finding a job and all the silly things that neurotic scientists fret over. She joined me in the lab for countless "one last experiments" and "quick" Biotage columns. I am forever in her debt. For some amazing reason, she married me and I'm a pretty blessed guy for it.

I am not a relationship guru by any means, but I suppose that I can say this: know what you want -- and when you see someone that has it, grab 'em (assuming they want to be with you, too.) The practical reasons to get married are pretty compelling for poor graduate students and postdocs (assuming you can stick with the math): 2 people can live on the expenses of 1.6 people. But that's not the main reason to do it -- it's because you love them and they love you.

*This post was vetted by Mrs. CJ before publishing. 


  1. As a person of faith pursuing a chemistry degree (and hoping to get married at some point along the way), I must say that this post was very encouraging. Kudos.

  2. I'm just sort of stunned at how out of touch my life is vis-a-vis my peers who didn't go to grad school. Very few of my cohort from school have paired off, and it certainly doesn't seem to happen until they found a steady and rewarding job. Since I rather dislike my company, I don't see how to work on a healthy relationship. But nothing livens up a party like whores.

  3. Awww. So sweet. I am lucky enough to have a lovely wife who stuck it through the thick and thin of my 5 years of grad school to make it to my defense(!) and our wedding (!!!) both last month.

    I will say I consider myself fortunate that I was the only one in grad school at the time. Her job skills are in demand pretty much everywhere, so it helped quite a bit in figuring out postdoc destinations.

  4. Thanks, Joel. Congratulations, too -- best wishes for a long and happy marriage.

    P.S. Yeah, a relatively portable career is helpful for avoiding serious 2-body problem issues.

  5. "2 people can live on the expenses of 1.6 people" until they become 3 and expense quota goes to 3.75 ;)

  6. dude, you married your lab stool?

  7. My significant other and I have been together since I was an undergrad (but still always doing research, so he got used to that one). But now that I am finally at the job hunting stage of grad school, I realize that I never explained to him how it actually works. Like: "No, I haven't finished my thesis yet. I haven't found a job and hence am still doing experiments in the lab. While I'm still doing experiments in the lab, my thesis is not done (vicious circle)". And "Yes, I can graduate in the middle of the semester.. provided I have that job". See the recurring theme? :D

  8. Any person willing to stick by you through all of grad school is certainly the one. I can't even imagine a better criterion; surely, that's sickness and health, poorer more than richer.

  9. My (now wife) partner met in undergrad and stayed together through grad school thanks to a combination of tenacity, compromise and determination, but there was no discussion of marriage until after I had defended. It would have been far too nuts. I was lucky that I had a steady girlfriend going in, as no one on the entire chem floor met (and remains) with anyone during their grad school tenure. I do also know of two PhD's from my group whose marriages both survived grad school, only to die in post-docs.

    And having seen people have kids before/during grad school - DO NOT DO THIS IF YOU WANT TO PLAY A PART IN THEIR LIVES.

  10. @8:08: Heck, I know a tenured professor who says "it's good enough if my kids know what my name is." Priorities.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20