The Love Language of an engineer

When all you really want is someone to Fix It

When Mr T and I first met, he tried to lavish me with gifts.

He got me flowers. He got me jewelry. He got me perfume. He tried to buy me a fabulous painting from a Memphis artist, NJ Woods, but I wouldn’t let him because it was too expensive.

It was $400. For a really big painting.

(Not that size=value in art, but it was the perfect size for over our bed, a space that remains blank and lonely to this day.)

It showed little girls holding umbrellas and swinging in the sky. It was enchanting and beautiful and Mr T could have afforded (that was back in the Working Days), but I thought it was too much money for him to spend on me.

An NJ Woods painting that I do not own. I love her work so much.

A few years ago, when we finally did buy an NJ Woods painting, it was after she had become very popular. We have a tiny painting (it’s beautiful) that cost $200.

(The lesson here is if you see art that you love and you can afford it, buy it. Otherwise, 15 years later, you will still be regretting not buying it. Fifteen years later.)

Mr T thought that Things were what women wanted.

He thought Things were what people wanted.

For the record, I do not want things.

(Except that NJ Woods painting.)

(But it’s too late.)

I already have things. I have enough things. I don’t want more things.

Things tie you down. Things take up space. Things take up money that could be used for other stuff, like travel.

For the record, I cannot remember the last time I wore the jewelry Mr T gave me.

Of course, I cannot remember the last time I wore jewelry, period, but you know.

Mr T comes by this impression honestly – this impression that people want Things.

His mom and dad bought things and kept them and had them on every surface (except the ceiling) of their house.

His mom gave Things for birthdays, Christmas, and anniversaries.

BlessHerHeart, his mom had horrible taste.

So we would get Things and not just Things but Ugly, Useless Things The Can Be Returned Only For Store Credit To The Store Of Ugly, Useless Things.

Oh. You want proof of Ugly, Useless Things?

The cheap Chinese pressed-board nesting tables painted with hibiscus and hummingbirds.


But when Mr T and I got together, I convinced him that we needed to get rid of Things, not accumulate them.

It’s been a slow sludge, but we are getting there.

We have not exchanged traditional gifts for years. (Except for the wooden toilet seat, which he got after my first winter in Wisconsin. For the ignorant, 90 year old house with poor heat retention + porcelain toilet seat = OMG That’s So Cold.)

(And except for the Engagement Trash Can he got me – I do not like rings. I do not wear rings. I did not want an engagement ring. I wanted a decent trash can and a trip to Paris.)

(I got both.)

(I am happy.)

And in the meantime, Mr T has become quite adept in my Love Language, which is “Paint the Bathroom So It Looks Nice” or “Give Away Ten Years’ Worth of Airliner Magazines” or “Repair this Thing So I Don’t Have to Buy a New One.”

He learned, I think, because of his Knight in Shining Armor moment.

Five months after we started dating, I broke up with him. He wanted to get married and I didn’t think I should make that kind of decision unemployed. I told him not to call me or email me – that I needed time to think.

My washer and dryer broke in the same week.

I blogged about it.

He read my blog.

He flew to Memphis, rented a car, showed up at my door, and fixed them for me!

Is that not the most romantic thing you have ever heard?

I always took for granted that Husbands Fixed Things.

After all, my dad, aka My Mom’s Husband, Fixed Things. He had a shop in the garage or basement, depending. He built stuff and he repaired stuff. I didn’t even know people took their car to a repair place when I was a kid because my dad did all that. I don’t think we ever had a plumber or an electrician or whatever to our house.

The time my parents wanted a patio in our back yard, my grandfather and two of my uncles visited and helped my dad plan and execute the project, including mixing and pouring the cement.

My grandfather was a farmer and part of the farm was the workshop on the west end of the barn.

My other grandfather – my dad’s dad – was an auto mechanic who owned and ran a garage that turned into an auto dealership.

My dad learned how to fix cars when he was a kid and then was an aircraft mechanic.

I didn’t realize some people had to pay other people to get stuff fixed. I thought they had dads. Or husbands. Or both.

Even when my dad visited me once in Austin and I took him to my friends’ place at the lake, he spent the entire afternoon helping Lou repair the boat lift.

So when Mr T started to give me Things, I pushed back.

It wasn’t easy for him at first. He had been taught differently.

But now – now he gets it. Now he knows. And it’s great.

Here is what he has done in the past few years:

  • Replaced the stove and microwave (OK, those are things, but he did all the work. He did have to include me for part of it and I did not enjoy that but now we have a gas stove and a microwave that actually waves.)
  • Replaced the kitchen faucet. Again, it’s a thing, but it’s an upgraded experience, really. So it’s about more than just the Thing.
  • Painted the house and the garage, which saved us at least $5,000, which is coming in handy now that we are both unemployed.
  • Almost repaired the broken furnace. He was so close. But we ended up having to buy a new one – the old one, it turns out, was not repairable.
  • Repaired the car many times.
  • Painted the bathroom.
  • Repaired the lawnmower.
  • Repaired the neighbor’s lawnmower.
  • Replaced the neighbor’s kitchen faucet.

And last night, just four days after I asked him to do so, he repaired the food processor, a quest I truly thought would be in vain, as it is not so easy, I don’t think, to repair small appliances. I was resigned to the idea of having to buy a new one and throw this one away, an idea that made me sick, but – turns out I married Superman.

And reader, he fixed it.



4 thoughts on “The Love Language of an engineer

  1. Oh my god, the reading your blog and flying to Memphis to fix your appliances is SO SO SO romantic! I’m serious. I love it. You’ve got a keeper.


  2. I hope this doesn’t make me sound like a stalker, but…I have followed a popular management blog that you also follow.

    Three times in more than five years I have clicked on people’s usernames because I liked the way they write so much. Of those three, two, I think, were you! (Your last blog, and your last but one blog)…now, by a really weird sequence of events I have found this one!

    I just wanted to tell you because I have had so much pleasure from reading your writing, and I wanted you to know that.

    (P.S. if i do sound like a stalker, sorry. But I live in Europe, so you wouldn’t need to worry!)


  3. When I was a young singleton, on my list of desired traits in a partner was “has power tools & knows how to use them, or is willing to learn with me”. My friends all laughed. Reader, I married that man – and now all my friends are envious 😉 He was building an airplane when we met (while getting his pilot’s license) and after we married, he sold the plane and built our house. And I’m MUCH better with power tools than I used to be, though the chop saw still scares me….

    Liked by 1 person

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