Rainforest Partner: Sharing the Wealth

My partner R (my husband) is a Rainforest Mind, too.

I actually knew that before I even met him in person, given that R’s online dating profile nickname was “Many Hobbies”, and in his self-description he talked quite a bit about how much he loves learning new things hands-on.

In my diary, shortly after meeting him, I wrote:

He’s science-y by nature… but seems totally capable of carrying on conversations about plenty of other things, and actually seems really well-rounded… He likes to learn more about himself and life all the time.

There were a bunch more things about R that I liked and resonated with too (of course!) – but the fact that he was interested in many things was a huge bonus, and has continued to work in our favor as a couple.

The photo at the top of this post is from our front office/library. (Yes, it has a rolling ladder – my dream come true!) I’m a book hoarder and tend to dominate  the shelves, but R has a few near the top dedicated to his own hobbies. (Important side note: he designed and put together the entire wall-covering shelving unit in this room, using IKEA modular pieces. He’s a “builder” on the side.) 

Because R’s hobbies and interests tend to lean towards requiring more “gear” and/or being more expensive (think=large machinery and tools), we have a happily mutual agreement that he can only be actively involved in so many at one time, BUT he can buy books and learn about topics to his heart’s content (and much of that is online these days).

A quick skim of the titles in the random photo above show me just a few of R’s many hobbies over the years – and these are from awhile ago:

  • software architecture
  • robots
  • astronomy
  • woodworking
  • bookbinding
  • four-wheel driving
  • Legos
  • plywood design
  • gears and gear cutting
  • soldering
  • water gardens
  • SketchUp
  • emergency food storage and survival
  • making pure corn whiskey

And let’s not leave out the massive tomes on display here entitled simply “Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 67th Edition” and “How Things Work” (I and II).

The nice thing is that my own book collections – scattered around the house – cover entirely different types of subjects. I’m much more into film, art, photography, languages, literature, etc.

So, together, you could say we make a collective rainforest household that encompasses a truly enormous range of topics. (With some gaps. Neither of us is into team sports at all, for instance. Go figure.) 

As I mentioned, learning about R’s rainforest mind early on (I didn’t know to call it this way-back-when, of course) was a major point in his favor. I’ve often said – only half-jokingly – that my idea of hell is intellectual boredom. Thankfully, with R as a partner, that just doesn’t happen.

I should add, though, that our desire for variety has some really important limits. We established early on, for instance, that we were interested in finding a life partner, not multiple or shifting partners. (We want comfort and security in that area, not variety.) We don’t especially want to move every year, or even every few years.

And, some of our hobbies manifest differently. He has certain movies he likes watching again… and again… and again, while I love to mix things up and will rarely watch the same film twice. He prefers to revisit relaxing vacation destinations, while I will ALWAYS choose a new spot to explore. Etc.

When it comes to parenting, we split things up and I very happily outsource science “instruction” (both formal and informal) to him, since he’s way more intuitive with it all. (I learn a lot from him myself when I take the time to listen and absorb.)

Meanwhile, we obviously understand our kids’ rapidly shifting and all-encompassing interests, as well as their obsessions, since we’re wired the same way (albeit – differently).

In sum, as challenging as it can often be to have a rainforest mind, it is a LOT nicer – and, I think, easier – sharing my life with someone who not only “gets” it but can match me.

Game on. (Well, not team sports-wise… )

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