I resurrected an old physics memory during my early morning run. Lately I have been thinking about relationships. I am not sure where the line is for saying, “I have been married a long time” but no one would say, oh those poor kids didn’t give it a shot. We are on the north side of 20 years and as our kids get older I have become more retrospective. If you have a keen eye you may notice the “I” not the “we”. I’m not sure what retrospect looks like from a man’s point of view and definitely not from my husband’s perspective. He does not seem to succumb to short bouts of melancholy as he reaches significant milestones along the age continuum.
Back to the physics. I promise it won’t hurt.
Capacitance. Defined by Merriam Webster
“property of an electric nonconductor that permits the storage of energy as a result of the separation of charge that occurs when opposite surfaces of the nonconductor are maintained at a difference of potential”
Here is why I think this is a beautiful description of marriage or even relationships in general. Let’s break this down together. An electric nonconductor just means that a charge does not flow freely. Hmmm, how often do you confront a stifled “charge” when trying to have a conversation about the large pile of laundry or feedback on your recent haircut? Now lets talk about storage of energy. Perhaps we save up the joys and graces of love and good times for when the good feelings aren’t flowing freely. After the decades we have been together there are a lot of great memories and no doubt, many more to come. If we are flowing freely I imagine they can continue to power us through life's heartaches--aging parents, job loss, and the challenges and responsibilities of being adults (most of the time). Now here is the good news. A difference of potential just means that the stored charge in a capacitor is proportional to the potential difference between the two plates. So if you have periods of time where your energy is more negative and perhaps your partner is blissfully unaware and remains hopelessly positive you have quite a bit of “charge” and your potential differences can actually be a good thing! When a capacitor is being charged, negative charge is removed from one side of the capacitor and placed onto the other—sort of helping to balance the enterprise.
Now before you think I am serious and completely science-nerdy, in full-disclosure I was pissed at my husband because he clearly didn't like my recent haircut. See how deep I am? Apparently about a few layers of cells. Two days later I am almost over it. But that fact notwithstanding, the space between us in our most intimate relationships is our exclusive and exquisite domain--rarified air. And remember one last physics concept--empty space often contains energy. So my sassy hair and I will forgive and go ahead and inhale...