Nine tips for being married to a teacher

My husband is pretty good at being married to a teacher. Not perfect, but pretty close. I’ve been watching him lately, and I realized that, most of the time, he knows exactly what he’s doing. He isn’t just naturally this good – he’s manipulating me, because he has figured out how to be married to a teacher. For those of you still figuring this business out, this is what he does.

1. Listen with a filter
I don’t mean to talk to you like you’re a child. When you finish a great project, I can’t help but say, “Great job! I’m so proud of you, honey!” I’m not intending to be condescending; it just happens. Just turn on your filter and hear… whatever it is that normal people say; I don’t really know what that is. But hear that.

2. Yes, we’re bossy.

The picture above was taken at my wedding. I was telling my brother, “Go get your own salsa!” (Seriously, I remember the conversation.) That is my “you better do it” face, and I couldn’t even turn it off at my wedding. Do you see his face? It cracks me up every time I see it.

It’s tough being in charge all the time. We’re used to directing traffic, being a coach, saying things like, “If you bite your eraser again, I’m going to have to call mom,” and “No, we don’t get stuck under our desks in the third grade.” It’s hard to turn that off.

3. Expect to talk shop

Aside from my family, shop is basically all I know to talk. Every conversation is about school, in one way or another. We might fool you at first. It might sound like we’re talking about Law and Order, or the Olympics. The conversation might start out like, “What do you want to do on Labor Day weekend?” but it will end up about school. Everything is about school. Just expect it.

4. Deal with it
We work for free. It’s not going to stop. We will pay for things you would never pay for in the office. The stuff you take for granted – the stuff you use to do your job – is the stuff we buy. On any given grocery list are three items for my classroom or my kids. That’s just how it is. Don’t question it. We will destroy you with stories of children who don’t have.

5. Know when to avoid us
For me, I need to be avoided right after school (I’ve spent all day giving out my brains; I feel pretty stupid by 4:00), and the end of the year. The end of the year is so stressful: packing, cleaning, documenting, signing out. And then, glorious summer! So bide your time and avoid any meaningful conversations between the hours of 3:30 – 5:00 (when we can open the wine bottle) and definitely head for cover in May.

6. You always agree.

We go on rants. They may be about instructional methods, training, pay, the conditions of the school (air conditioning, or lack thereof), or new mandates. They might be about the state we work for (doesn’t really matter which one) or the tests we have to spend (waste) our time on. No matter what it is, just nod and say, “That’s ridiculous.”

7. Just say yes.

Like that time I decided to make patterned clothespins for the whole faculty.
We get excited. We think of really interesting lessons, like that time I told you all about my plans for my latest social studies unit. We were going to make salt dough maps. SALT DOUGH! Who wouldn’t be excited? Just say, “That sounds awesome. Your kids are lucky to have you.” Don’t get it mixed up with the situation above. The difference between a rant and a plan is that during a plan, we’re smiling. During a rant, we’re pacing back and forth, gesticulating wildly, and uncorking the wine bottle.

8. Accept the tears
I cry all the time. I cry during commercials, songs on the radio, and comedies. That Hallmark sign language commercial a few years ago? Forget it. Every time, horrible racking sobs. So just accept it. Understand that, no, I can’t walk through the September 11 Memorial because I just can’t handle it. I can’t handle the uplifting movie with the migrant kids who run track, and I can’t handle that commercial where the dog finds his way home. It’s all too much.
9. Feed our souls
Our souls consume wine and chocolate. And that’s about it.

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