I wish everyone had a partner as terrific as my wife Maura. Today is her birthday, so I felt like saying a few things. She’s a Minnesotan by birth, so I won’t go so far as to embarrass her — well, not much, anyway — but I just have to gush a little about one thing: her mind.
Here’s the thing: after almost three years of marriage, I no longer know all the time where my mind stops and hers begins. I remember reading a study about the brain development of married couples, and I wonder whether our brains haven’t taken over some functions for each other. Things she’s good at, she now does for both of us, while my brain atrophies in those areas, and vice versa.
Not that long ago, I wrote a post in which I described how she annotated and indexed several months’ worth of issues of The New Yorker for me. It was a tremendous act of love, and it was only possible because of how well she knows my thought patterns and the questions I wrestle with. She does similar things for me all the time, most of them quite understated yet immensely valuable. When I’m struggling with a scene, just talking about it with her, even for a few minutes while I’m steaming the cauliflower or doing the dishes, can free me up immensely. When I don’t know how to address a creative opportunity or figure out the implications of a decision I’m pondering, she knows how to ask the questions that will get me moving.
The other thing she does is regularly bring new ideas and new energy into our house, which happens to be not only where we live, but where I write — and as any writer will tell you, new ideas are essential fuel for creativity. She’s a fluent speaker of French, a student of the culture of the her home state, an actor, a newly-converted devotee of things scientific, a student of occupational therapy, an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction, a regular consumer of NPR, a collector of neighborhood stories, and a beautiful decorator. At every turn, in every moment, I might be surprised or challenged or provoked, maybe by a bit of poetry, maybe by an interesting fact about a random bone in the human body, maybe by a new perspective on a political position: it keeps things invigorating.
Thank you, Maura, for sharing your mind with me. I hope you know how much it means. And I love you.