Albert divorced his first wife Mileva Maric despite sharing common interest in physics and having been lovers in their teenage. Elsa too divorced her first husband Max Loewenthal. Albert and Elsa married later and lived happily.
Albert’s mother and Elsa’s mother were sisters. Albert’s father and Elsa’s father were cousins. This did not mean that they shared professional interests and passion for physics.
- Elsa was asked if she understood relativity. “Oh, no, although he has explained it to me many times,” she replied. “But it is not necessary for my happiness.”
Albert Einstein was quite happy with his wife who did not share his love for physics and his wife was happy trotting the world under lime light without feeling jealous of her famous husband or feeling small for not understanding his theories. Understanding relativity was not important for her happiness. In turn, it was not important for Einstein that she understood or even took interest in his famous complex thought experiments and their path-breaking results.
It is not important for spouses that the partner shares every passion and pursuit, likes and dislikes. Spouses can love and care for each other while accepting their differences. They can work on the differences to complement and emerge with more meaning. She was happy that Einstein went skiing with Marie Curie and discussed science on mountain slopes. No envy, no insecurity.
James Coplien’s PhD thesis has some interesting insight to variability and commonality analysis. We do not build valuable systems unless we understand variability, or differences.
Let our spouses, children, friends and colleagues be different from us. Let us accept and celebrate the differences.