First of all we would like to begin with 2 apologies. The first one is sent to all women developers out there. The second apology is to all women out there. We are really not sociological experts or pretend to be. This post is written from the experience and view point of 2 male programmers.
So how does your work as a software developer affects your relationship? Developing requires a different set of skills from other professions and makes you adopt some unusual behavior. This influences your relationship in strange ways.
Working together on the family PC - Or how do I always get into trouble?
Working together on the family PC...Well, you and your wife operate the PC a bit differently. I don't see my wife opening the command line to copy files. Surprisingly, I didn't receive any positive feedback when I brought up my fabulous idea to install a double boot on our family PC so
WE can enjoy the new UNIX based media center. Things can get hairy, especially when we need to accomplish a very routine assignment. I remember the nightmare called "Picking up Photos from the Wedding". Filtering best wedding photos (300 out of 2000, WOW that photographer really overdid it), while my wife only used the mouse really killed me there.
"How was your day honey?" - Or "You never tell me about what you actually do"
Communication. That's the key word in relationship, isn't it? Well, you come back home and your wife asks, "How was your day?" A laconic answer will get you into trouble. On the other hand, I don't think she will be interested in the new search engine you recently integrated. So what's left to talk about? Office gossip. You really can't have enough of that.
Delving into the PC after work hours - Or why did I start with this media center?
Developers are technical fellows. As such, they read tech blogs, install open source code on their family PC, adopt sophisticated media centers, and try to stretch out the limit of technology when possible. The problems with such activities is that it takes a long time, you try them at home and not at work, and you are drawn into them with no warnings. You don't know what you are getting yourself into. You read a blog post telling you there is a new streamer for your PS3. You say - I'll give it a try. You find yourself configuring your router while you have guests sitting in your living room with your wife. How many times your wife suddenly wake you up with "Did you hear what I was saying? Can you stop with the computer? I am talking to you and you are stuck to the screen". Developers are capable of sitting 10-12 hours a day in front of a computer. A simple "Let me just check the latest headlines at WIRED", could lead to 3 hours of PC time at home, trying to hack to the neighbor's Wi-Fi with the new Mozilla plug-in, just for the fun of it.
Zombie mode - Or normal people are able to conduct a conversation at 20:00 o'clock
Our job requires tremendous brain effort and almost zero physical effort. After such a long day you go into what we call the "zombie mode". You come back home. You are in the
"zombie mode". It is hard for you to...well, to communicate. Yes dear wife. This has nothing to do with us being us being distant or snobs. We simply processed too much information for one day and we need some time to reset. I am sure at some point in the future this phenomena will be more documented but until then... please be patient.
Tech Support - Or Why can't you be more supportive?
It's true. Most people we know assume the years we spent at the University, the books we read and the software we developed must have prepared us to help them use Word. The problem is that when your wife is on the other side of the line you have to answer. So you find yourself wondering in the middle of the office trying to teach her to send a fax from your home computer.
Buying Gadgets - Or don't say I am not spoiling you enough...
"You know how much technology can improve our life. So why did you get upset when I go and buy the new laser directed, Bluetooth controlled, vacuum cleaner?" Yes. We love technology and sometimes we buy cool top of the line gadgets that we can live without. But at least you take comfort in the fact that we never spend money on clothes...
Cleaning house - Or why is there a new tool-bar here?
You open up the browser. There are three new shining tool-bars installed. How did they get there? When
install a new software you overcome all those annoying traps to install junk on your PC. However, your wife doesn't. She will tap the next button like crazy, leaving no tool-bar behind. Developers are usually pedant, control freaks when it comes to our machines. Cleaning up after your wife becomes a daily chore.
Small breaks - Or "I am really working here"
Anyone who ever worked from home knows it. You tell your wife you are really working. She takes a look at the screen and finds you in Reddit (again). "I thought you were working", she says. "I am", you answer (but you still get the long face). Developers need those small 30 seconds breaks. We are working, but we need to lift our head over the water to catch a breath.
To sum things up, we would like to dedicate this post to our beloved wives, and wish all you developers out there prosperous relationships.