“Study History, Save Your Marriage”

Ok I couldn’t resist.

Today in my Teaching History class, my professor, Dr. John Fea discussed how he wrote a column a little while back about how studying history can save your marriage.  So obviously. . .  I had to find it!   He has plenty of clarifications, and conditions, but I had a bit of a chuckle just thinking about this concept.  I am a single man, so I cannot practically apply these lessons now, but seriously to all the married readers of this blog, let me know what you think about it — I actually think this is a really interesting concept.

Here is a portion of the article.

I am working on a new book about the importance of historical thinking to the creation of a civil society, and I was recently sharing some thoughts from the book with a group of scholars and students. After telling the group that I thought people who study the past learn the skill of understanding people who are different from them, one of the historians at the table said that his work as a student of the past has made him a better husband.

I must admit that I was initially shocked by his statement, but very intrigued. This historian told us that he and his wife did not always see eye-to-eye on issues facing their family, their relationship, and society in general, but the skills he acquired through his work as a historian had helped him to relate to his wife in a more understanding way. When he became aware of the similarities between his vocation as a historian and his married life, he realized that he needed to show empathy before casting judgment. His marriage was better as a result.

I cannot tell you what the divorce rate is among historians, but the scholar’s suggestion made more sense to me as I considered it further. As a historian, I urge my students to approach the past with a sense of empathy, understanding, and humility. I want them to “walk in the shoes” of people from the past. I want them to make sense of the world that people of the past inhabited before they condemn them for being weird or immoral. When I teach a document written by someone from the past, I demand that my students show the author of that document, even if he or she is dead, a certain degree of hospitality. These authors should be treated just like any present-day visitor that might enter the classroom. 

Keep reading this column here.

-Phil

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Christian, Lover of History, Aspiring Teacher

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