The Nation's Pulse

Odd Couples

My attempt to answer the age-old question: why smart guys marry dumb girls.

By 3.10.11

For years we've been seeing stories that essentially repeat the same mantra: smart guys prefer dumb women.

Smart women, naturally, are offended and angered by these stories (as they are, indeed, by a lot of things). That only proves how stupid smart men are, they say.

But most of the stories I've seen have it wrong on all counts. If I may speak on behalf of smart guys (hold your laughter), it is wrong to assume intelligent men are only looking for bimbos with ginormous breast implants. That comes later. When a guy turns 48.

The smart guy has no interest in marrying a "dumb" blonde. Nor is he intimidated by brainy women. Nor does he want a docile Stepford wife. More likely, what he wants is a girl like dear old mom (assuming dear old mom isn't Barbara Boxer): a traditional, old-fashioned homemaker.

Intelligent men do not consider this "marrying down." Smart men (heck, even dumb men) know that a woman who is a financial advisor at Smith Barney is unlikely to give up her career to bake pies for the Mother's Club. Her time is too "valuable."

Conversely, most ambitious gals won't give a guy without an MBA and a BMW the time of day. They are loath to give up a rewarding and fulfilling career as a tax attorney for the drudgery of making a home and raising a family. They want to date "interesting" men. CNBC's Nicole Lapin recently confessed that she knew a romance was over when her date failed to get her reference to a line ("I know it when I see it") from a 1964 opinion by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Potter Stewart. THBBFT! Looooser!

Understandably, a woman wants to respect her guy, and it's hard to respect someone who is less smart or successful or educated or cannot recognize references from famous SCOTUS concurring opinions.

SMART CAREER WOMEN could learn a thing from smart career guys. As one hedge fund guy told the Gloss, alpha females should find themselves a nice, mellow beta male, perhaps a hipstery type who works in a used bookstore or a coffee shop. A guy who is smart, but not particularly ambitious, and who would have a hot, pretentious meal waiting when she gets home at 10:30 p.m. Instead, smart gals insist on going after the "interesting" alpha males, to the exclusion of the rest of us.

Speaking for myself, I rather enjoy having a spouse who is smarter than I am. I am thankful that, in a pinch, she could come up with the square root of 28 in radical form. Since I got married I do fewer dumb things because she won't let me, so I sleep better at night having fewer regrets.

Also, I am not one of those competitive guys who has to earn more than his wife. Sure, it would be nice to earn more than her. (Hell, it would be nice to earn more than my teenage son.) Fortunately, I don't suffer self-esteem issues. (I'm a journalist, after all.) Nor is my wife one of those ambitious career women who is hated by all of the other women in the office. She is quite willing to give up her job, career, whatever, and stay home and raise children. Just as soon as we figure a way to do that on my salary -- after which we intend to tackle the U.S. debt crisis.

Maybe it's pointless to try to plumb the depths of the human heart. The novelist Ernest Hemingway married four smart, educated women and couldn't stay married to three-fourths of them. James Joyce, on the other hand, married a chambermaid named Nora Barnacle, and even though he was neurotic and a drunkard, Miss Barnacle "stuck with him."

I guess what works for you is whatever works for you.

You don't need to be a smart guy to know that.

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author
Christopher Orlet writes from St. Louis.