Are you as smart as your spouse?

A few weeks ago Michael and I attended some education seminars at a local university. The key note speaker was a researcher and psychologist, and she spent the first part of her speech talking about how intelligence relates within families.

So for example, often if you have one gifted kid, there’s a good chance the others will be gifted as well.

That didn’t really surprise me. But one very interesting point she made was that spouses were often close in range in IQ. She said that generally spouses were within one standard deviation of each other on IQ – that’s about 15 points according to her chart.

She said people sought out mates of similar intelligence.

I was thrilled by this information. I think Michael thinks he is much more intelligent than I am. (He says this is not so. He knows we are equally intelligent. Cough. Cough.) So I love this idea that we are within one standard deviation of each other.

In college when we first started dating I happened to see his transcript, including his SAT score, and was like “Holy crap. He’s really smart!” However, I graduated with higher honors than he did. So hmm…

So what do you think: Are you as intelligent, more intelligent or less intelligent than your spouse? Does your spouse think you are smarter or dumber? Do you think it’s true that people end up with spouses equal in intelligence?

– Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, ajc.com Momania. I have increased my Twitter activity. I am sending out great stories for moms each day focusing on health, fitness, sex, entertainment, food, travel and obviously parenting! So follow me on Twitter at @AJCMOMania!)

55 comments Add your comment

JOD

April 25th, 2011
12:55 pm

I think we’ve probably about equivalent, but we’re good at different things. He’s better at mechanics/physics, and I’m better at chemistry/biology/english. I definitely believe that ‘like’ seeks ‘like’ with respect to intelligence.

gtmom

April 25th, 2011
12:56 pm

About the same… He def. is more “smarter” than I am at lots of things. I kicked his butt in grad school but if you heard us “talk”, he comes across the more intelligent person.

Funny, this subject was brought up by my son just last night. He wanted to know who was smarter, me or my husband. I told him that we both know different things. Because we like different things, we are “smarter” in different things. His dad backed me up with the same arguement. We all have different talents. I may be really “smart” in math… I suck in English.. I couldn’t paint a picture or play an instrument if my life depended on it. Different talents.

jarvis

April 25th, 2011
12:58 pm

I often think my wife and I are as different as two people in a marriage can be and still co-exist. Our minds work so completely differently that I couldn’t even guess where she might fall on the range.

She claims to have “average intelligence”, but I think she’s somewhere above that.

Enemas 4 Less

April 25th, 2011
1:21 pm

I’m single, so I will always be the smartest in the house!

motherjanegoose

April 25th, 2011
1:21 pm

Haha….we absolutely excel in different areas. I know my husband is intelligent, I just cannot fathom that the intelligence does not trickle down into replacing the toilet paper, putting gas in his car, tossing the milk jug when there is one teaspoon of milk left, remembering where he left his keys etc. I guess he has more profound things to worry about: how to program the new remote control for my daughter’s TV. Something I could never do!

I have seen some spouses that lord their intelligence and not let the other spouse have a word about anything. To me, everyone has a level of expertise about SOMETHING. WE do not have that problem here. When my husband delves into a foreign topic ( to me) , I proclaim, “I have no clue about that…so it is your call.”

motherjanegoose

April 25th, 2011
1:22 pm

@ enemas….NO…YOU ARE SINGLE? I cannot imagine why!

shaggy

April 25th, 2011
1:25 pm

I am smart enough to know sexual positions that my wife has never heard of, and she is smart enough to threaten bodily harm if I ever try them on her.

My point:
Does it even matter? There is a boatload of “smart” wasted every second. It is entirely what you do with the aptitude that you have. This “researcher & psychologist” is just milking a money cow, based on insecurities…your insecurities.

math lesson

April 25th, 2011
1:25 pm

68.2% of the population is within 1 standard deviation of the mean (assuming a normal distribution).

Paul Hargis

April 25th, 2011
1:27 pm

Another day, another blog post about how Michael is wrong and Theresa is right.

Enemas 4 Less

April 25th, 2011
1:32 pm

Theresa…. Seriously, you call me out for being mean, although you give no examples. Now someone takes a shot at me in this blog entry.

It’s like middle school here. If you’re not part of the clique, you get beat up in gym class.

Enemas 4 Less

April 25th, 2011
1:32 pm

By the way…….Single is way better than being married. It’s my choice.

DB

April 25th, 2011
1:37 pm

Oh, my husband is definitely the smarter of the two — in some things. I’m a big believer in multiple intelligences — in this theory, there are 9 different varieties of intelligence. My husband would score VERY high on logical/mathematical intelligence and linguistic intelligence – which are also the things that are easily measured on standardized tests, etc., as would my son. My daughter, on the other hand, blows us ALL away on musical intelligence and kinesthetic intelligence. I would probably score higher than him on interpersonal intelligence and spatial intelligence. I’ve always scored well on standardized tests, too, but my husband is waaay up there — certified genius boy, he had universities wanting to figure out how his brain worked at age 4. :-) We laugh, because my degree was with honors, and his wasn’t — but that was because I wanted to go the extra step and do an honors project, and he didn’t. It certainly wasn’t reflective of IQ! Happily, his intelligence also came with a large dose of common sense and a well-defined work ethic, too — it’s always a joy for me to watch the way his mind works on complex business issues. Luckily, I came equipped with more than my fair share of self-confidence, so I can enjoy his intelligence and creative application of smarts without feeling intimidated. :-)

DB

April 25th, 2011
1:46 pm

Off Topic, but related to a previous topic: Does the fact that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has been medically cleared to fly to Florida to attend the Endeavor shuttle launch that her husband is commanding affect anyone’s previous opinion that he should have withdrawn to be by her side during her rehab?

There were vehement feelings about this in January/February, with a lot of people declaring that he should have given up his opportunity to command the last space shuttle in order to hang around at her side — I’m just wondering if those people are still as vehement as they were then.

jarvis

April 25th, 2011
1:57 pm

Thank you Math Lesson. Greta point.
Stats are usually my territory on here. I guess my mathematic eye took a break this afternoon.

To put Lesson’s point in the instructor’s terms: “generally any two people are within one standard deviation of each other.”

Becky

April 25th, 2011
2:02 pm

I’d say we’re about the same, with each one of us having our own things that we are smarter about..Neither one of us try to lord it over the other, so guess that’s why we are good for each other..I’ve heard him tell people that he has no clue about something they ask him about, that they need to talk to me..

@MJG..I can relate to most of those things with mine also..haha..Got the milk out of the fridge one day last week and it had a sell by date of April 24..Well, it was sour (over a half a gallon)..So I’m a little ticked and it didn’t make matters better when he pops up and says, “yeah, I noticed a couple of days ago that it tasted funny”..AND you left it in the fridge and didn’t say anything? Some of the simpleset (sp) things just totally befuddle him…Aw, but I love him still..

really

April 25th, 2011
2:07 pm

i’ll agree with you there, enemas! i am single and LOVING it!

therefore, i am also the smartest one in my house. :)

abc

April 25th, 2011
2:10 pm

American average IQ is 98 or so; Georgia’s average is 92. On average, 1 in 20 drivers on the road has an IQ below the threshold of retardation, which is 70. Regardless whether you’re smarter than your spouse, chances are pretty good you’re both still pretty stupid — that is to say, average is stupid.

Interesting sidebar: cops won’t take recruits with IQ over 120. They figure they’d think too much to be effective on the job.

motherjanegoose

April 25th, 2011
2:13 pm

FYI…my son was brilliant in Calculus during HS and did not have to take a bit of math in college
( not sure WHERE that came from). BUT he had a terrible time with his check book and debit card during is freshman year. Sometimes, practical trumps intelligence…in my book. Our daughter is not brilliant in math but she has been WAY better with her checkbook and finances during her freshman year.

JJ

April 25th, 2011
2:16 pm

Off topic – I was wrong about the opening day of the Suwanee Farmer’s Market……

“The Suwanee Farmers Market opens for the season Tuesday, May 3. It will be open at Town Center Park from 4-7 p.m. Tuesdays through August 2 and 8 a.m.-noon every Saturday (except September 17) through October 1. The market will feature up to 28 vendors offering fresh produce as well as meat and eggs, bread, granola, spices, baked goods, canned sauces and jellies, and honey.”

RJ

April 25th, 2011
2:29 pm

We’re probably equal. As for kids, I have two smart kids but I would say that each one has different “gifts”. One is academically “gifted” and the other is musically “gifted”. My son can do math with his eyes closed. Unfortunately he has no desire to use his “gift”. He must be the laziest boy I’ve ever seen that doesn’t have to work hard. My daughter is totally different. She works hard and has musical gifts that even I as a musician envy.

We choose people based on compatibility. I’m happy. That’s all that matters.

@enemas, there’s no way you can say what’s better. It just may be better for you. I love being married.

jarvis

April 25th, 2011
2:32 pm

ABC, where did you get that?

Mental retardation rate in this country is closer to 1%…that’d be .2 per 20, and you’d have to figure that a good portion of those can’t drive a car.

Enemas 4 Less

April 25th, 2011
2:41 pm

I know more happy single people than I do happy married people.

I can come and go as I please. The only rules are my rules. I don’t have to check in with anyone, nor do I have someone checking in with me. I don’t have to buy gifts for someone I don’e know what to buy. I don’t have to tolerate in laws.

How can anyone resist that?

Stacey

April 25th, 2011
3:01 pm

As others have said, my husband and I have stregnths in different areas but are probably pretty close to equal. We are classic examples “those who can do;. those who can’t teach.” I am better at retaining and applying “book” knowledge and am definitely the one you want on your quiz bowl team. On the otherhand, my husband is good at figuring things out and has an excellent sense of direction. We used to joke that if we were ever stranded on the unchartered desert isle, he would figure out how to build a radio out of coconuts but I would have to be the one to suggest he build a raft. :-)

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 25th, 2011
3:09 pm

Let’s all be nice to everyone!!!

Enema – you know you were being mean this morning no need for me to cut and paste all those comments in — also I don’t want to repeat them online — just be respectful and everyone be respectful back.

motherjanegoose

April 25th, 2011
3:14 pm

@enemas…this is just for you…

You are probably the most attractive person in your house too!

See, I just paid you a compliment! Trying to be fair here.

@stacey…I know that quote is popular but I have never seemed to understand how it applied to me. I have spent my entire life teaching…I have also authored lots of things that people pay $ to hear and use…thus I have built my own business too. I can and I do…I also teach…did I miss something? Folks often tell me ( again last week) , ” I would love to DO what you do..”
Then DO IT. Create your own ideas, peddle them and see if you can make a living, It is a free country, as far as I know.

motherjanegoose

April 25th, 2011
3:17 pm

TWG…I am not always nice to everyone :). I am nice to most all people until they take an unreasonable stab at me or someone whom I respect…this includes family, friends, co workers and even others on this blog whom I admire. Just the truth here.

Kate

April 25th, 2011
3:22 pm

It’s not much of a contest; my husband is definitely smarter than I am. What is interesting is the question of whether or not we seek out mates of similar (or in my case, greater) intelligence as our own. When my husband and I first met in college, I would say I was probably the smarter one. My husband was pretty much a total goof ball, while I took my studies a lot more seriously and generally made better grades than he did. Although my husband was (and still is) a whiz at math and science, he could not write a coherent essay on any subject if his life depended on it. I usually had to proof read, and even re-write, all of his papers when we were in school. However, the longer I know him the more respect I have for his intellect for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that he left me in the dust career wise a long time ago! So did I on some subconscious level seek out someone who was secretly a total geek all while appearing to be your typical college aged party animal? I’ve always said it was just sheer dumb luck on my part, but I guess anything is possible.

Enemas 4 Less

April 25th, 2011
3:42 pm

I am nice. If i was mean, you would certainly know it. Your failure to cite specific examples perpetuates the cliquish feeling this blog has. If we all don’t share the same discourse, then we are trouble makers. A differing opinion, perspective or humor will not hurt you.

motherjanegoose

April 25th, 2011
3:47 pm

@ enemas…I love the different opinions and perspectives I have learned from DB, Becky, Michelle, Kathy and catlady while having lunch with them. All have been on this blog. We are as different as night and day, in some ways. It is all in the approach, to me. Some humor, I do not understand.

mom2alex&max

April 25th, 2011
3:48 pm

He thinks we are equally smart. I disagree, I think I am way smarter. He thinks he’s smarter because he has a lot of knowledge in complex areas (programming, coding, physics) that I don’t. But I know a lot more in other areas. I think I pretty much kick his butt! ;)

And abc, seriously on that fact about the cops? I seriously laughed when I read it because it explains soooooooooooo much. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!

DB

April 25th, 2011
3:58 pm

@Enemas: I think the thing that puts up some people’s backs are the blanket comments, such as “Single is way better than being married”. That is certainly your opinion — but if you just prefaced it with a slight caveat: “For me, being single is way better than being married”, you wouldn’t have people bristling so much and poised to disagree with you. In my case, I LOVE being married. I don’t look on having a life partner as a dead weight around my neck that drags me down and limits my freedom — my life is something I want to share with my husband, not ‘work around’ in spite of him. I’m not about to tell you what you should do — that’s your business — but when you come on a website that has a LOT of married people and make comments like that, it’s a little offputting.

DB

April 25th, 2011
4:00 pm

@mom2alex&max: 120 IQ is more than a standard deviation above average, so it’s not THAT funny :-) A standard deviation on IQ is about 15 points. So anything above 115 would be at least smarter than 66% of the population. 120 would put them around 70%, give or take a point or two.

Jeff

April 25th, 2011
4:06 pm

My ex and I were similar but in entirely different ways. I have an MBA with a 4.0 GPA on the grad level , but scored average on my SAT’s, had an average GPA in HS and undergrad, but can do complex math in my head in seconds. She, on the other hand……..well heck, if i could figure it out, we’d still be together.

Becky

April 25th, 2011
4:08 pm

@DB..I agree with you on that one..My oldest sister was married to her husband for 39 yrs (till his death)..She said that she could never imagine not being married..Then when he passed away, she loves being “single” I’ve said this before..I love my husband with all my heart, but if something happened and we were no longer together, I would most likely not become involved in another serious relationship again..Single works for some, marriage works for some, so pick your “right” and be happy..

RJ

April 25th, 2011
5:30 pm

“I can and I do…I also teach…”

@MJG, I can completely relate. I not only teach, but I get paid to do what I teach. I’ve owned a business doing what I teach. It’s wonderful to be paid to teach what I love and still do what I love. I have never understood that quote.

Enemas 4 Less

April 25th, 2011
5:37 pm

@ enemas…I love the different opinions and perspectives I have learned from DB, Becky, Michelle, Kathy and catlady while having lunch with them. All have been on this blog. We are as different as night and day, in some ways. It is all in the approach, to me. Some humor, I do not understand.

I’m not sure what your point is. It is a rather ambiguous and confusing reply.

Techmom

April 25th, 2011
5:39 pm

I’m definitely smarter than my husband; we both recognize it (we met while I was tutoring him through college algebra). He’s great at a lot of things that aren’t measured by intelligence; especially the things he has a passion about. Unfortunately I don’t value the same things he’s passionate about, and vice versa, so we’re often the epitome of ‘opposites attract’. I’ve had to learn to like the things he likes and learned how to do a lot of things without him.

Enemas 4 Less

April 25th, 2011
5:42 pm

@Enemas: I think the thing that puts up some people’s backs are the blanket comments, such as “Single is way better than being married”. That is certainly your opinion — but if you just prefaced it with a slight caveat: “For me, being single is way better than being married”, you wouldn’t have people bristling so much and poised to disagree with you. In my case, I LOVE being married. I don’t look on having a life partner as a dead weight around my neck that drags me down and limits my freedom — my life is something I want to share with my husband, not ‘work around’ in spite of him. I’m not about to tell you what you should do — that’s your business — but when you come on a website that has a LOT of married people and make comments like that, it’s a little offputting.

We’re debating semantics when it seems most here don’t have a complete grasp of our language. What is offputting anyway?

Stacey

April 25th, 2011
6:31 pm

MJG & RJ…My comment was in no way directed at you nor any other teacher and I am sorry if I offended you. I was only talking about my husband and me. I am one with “knowledge” that I am not always able to put to use but I am good at explaining things in a way that I can get someone else (hubby, for example) understand. On the other hand, he can just do things but not be able to explain how he did it to save his life.

DB

April 25th, 2011
6:50 pm

@Enemas: Definition of OFF-PUTTING “: that puts one off : repellent, disconcerting ” per Merriam Webster on-line dictionary.

In other words, good manners would dictate that you do not come on a blog where there are a LOT of married people and declare that being single is better than being married. Many people have made a personal decision to marry, and it turns out to be a good decision for them. To imply that their decision is a wrong one by saying “single is better” is repellent and disconcerting.

catlady

April 25th, 2011
6:52 pm

Around here the good Baptist folks like to talk about being “equally yoked.” I think when you are not of similar abilities and have similar moral compasses, your marriage won’t last.

You don’t have to be the same kind of smart, but I do think it is important to be similar in native ability.

BTW, I have been divorced (single) for 24 years. Not sure if I am too smart or too dumb to find a new mate. Haven’t looked, but haven’t stumbled over one, either.

My 2 daughters are very bright. They are clever, hardworking, and intelligent. My son approaches brilliant, but like another poster, never had to use it much in school. He never learned to cope with things that are not immediately obvious to him. He can fix anything, play many instruments, and if you need someone to generate a list of possible solutions to a problem, he’s your guy.

It takes all kinds in this world. In a marriage, there are some similarities that are important.

BlondeHoney

April 25th, 2011
6:53 pm

I was DEFINITELY the smarter one in my marriage…he was clueless about SO many things and I just covered up and made excuses for him. Even my boys know Mom was smarter…my younger son used to tell his friends that “I take after my mom, I have her brain” and then go on to say his brother takes after his father…cough cough. And Enema, I think am ALSO the smartest one in my house now and i LOVE LOVE LOVE being single after 20+ years of marriage; I say I think because I am not 100% sure that my two beautiful kitties are not smarter than me sometimes :)

Purple Drank

April 25th, 2011
7:12 pm

Damn it’s catty in here.

jarvis

April 25th, 2011
8:16 pm

I’ll say it Enemas….you’re f’ing obnoxious. You throw out this little I’m better than you kind of attitude. You take jabs at the women on here, and if anyone has the audacity to call you out on it, you ignore them under some vail of unfairness.

Get a grip man…you’re a single dude on a blog written for moms. Be respectful to them and their points of view, and they’ll be respectful to yours.

On another point, 95% of single men over the age of 30 are douche bags. I don’t know you well enough to cover you with that blanket, but I’ve got my suspicions.

jarvis

April 25th, 2011
8:17 pm

TWG, my comment got filtered. I don’t get it. I thought I was being nice ;-).

JoDee

April 25th, 2011
8:42 pm

I qualify for Mensa. Hubby, not so much. However, he has the communication, social, and leadership skills that I wish I had. He has charisma and charm, I have analysis and creativity. We are truly complementary.
BTW, I’m glad I’m not single. It is too tempting to become completely egocentric when in that state.

Progressive Humanist

April 25th, 2011
10:56 pm

I am an educational psychologist with a PhD. My wife’s parents were both teachers, but she never quite finished her bachelor’s degree, although we met when we were both in college. Ironically, she had a much higher undergrad GPA than I did.

I wouldn’t have a problem if someone made the determination that she’s smarter than me. She may very well be. She certainly has better people skills- social intelligence. I’m probably better at planning, finances, and more driven to get tasks done. I enjoy theory and complex problems, but I can be a bit intense and a loner. She’s successful because she has the people skills to deftly navigate group interactions, which almost all jobs entail.

SAT scores, GPAs, degrees, etc. don’t matter any more. When it comes to home life we’re equally smart and each of us have our strengths.

The Generalizer

April 26th, 2011
12:11 am

I call BS. Higher IQ begets greater financial success. For a smart guy, this translates to access to more attractive women. (Women value money [i.e., security for their offspring] above all else; men value beauty [i.e., good genes for their offspring] above all else.) Hotter women tend to be unintelligent, either by nature or by choice, since they can rely solely on their looks to survive.

For a smart (de facto unattractive) gal, this translates to access to the remaining dumb guys who couldn’t make enough money to land the hot women.

That being said, I’d only expect a correlation in IQ between spouses of average intelligence.

Gotta love 'em

April 26th, 2011
4:51 am

I am smarter than my fiance, and he HATES it. On a good day, he’ll say he “loves” my intelligence, but the fact is it gets him in his macho-man craw.

But he is smarter in “man”-type things; I’m smarter re: realtionships, conversaition, how best to handle a discussion; I don’t overreact, and I can tell whether or not it takes two people to lift something around the house. Mr. Macho always does the “I got it, I got it” and next thing you know the drywall is chipped, etc. LOL. (he doesn’t want me to hurt myself; but he also wants to show off)

He’s a brilliant man; 30-year Navy man, with great worldwide intellectual and academic intelligence. But re: emotional intelligence, he’s like a child in many instances. But then again, aren’t most of them?

Beck

April 26th, 2011
5:39 am

I’m not disputing the results of the survey; I haven’t seen the research, read the peer reviews, etc. However, just because a study says it doesn’t make it so in EVERY case. Your logic is faulty.

If you want to really feel better about this, you should both get tested and then you’ll know. However, this seems like one of those things couples might be better off NOT knowing about each other.