A calculating lover

im actuaryMy uncle Nick is a highly respected life actuary. Normally you would not want to get seated beside one at a dinner party (“so, you predict death for a living…FASCINATING!”). But Nick is a ton of fun. He can tell a joke like it’s nobody’s business, regale you with fascinating stories, and discuss Broadway musicals with as much knowledgeable passion as global politics.

But perhaps my uncle Nick’s most endearing quality is that he has been married to my aunt Julie for over 45 years. Julie and Nick are the role models that re-confirm one’s faith in marriage. If they ever divorced, it would cause a tsunami of break-ups among their extended family and friends. We know that if they couldn’t make it, the rest of us shouldn’t even bother to try.

never wrongI have always wondered about their secret to a happy marriage. Recently, I stumbled upon some research that shed some light. Apparently, actuaries have one of the lowest divorce rates among all professions. (In case you are curious – bartenders, massage therapists and dancers have the highest).

Intrigued by this factoid, I emailed my uncle.

Hey Nick – I am wondering if you know why actuaries have really low divorce rates. Is it that they are so engrossed playing with their calculators that they don’t notice marital tension? Sue

It did not take long to receive a reply from my uncle.

Sue: As applied mathematicians, actuaries are trained to be eclectic, flexible and not to let ideology get in the way of reality.  We are adaptable, charming and modest.  Oh, and great in bed and good with offspring.  What more can a gal want? Nick
P.S. Tell your sons to become actuaries.

Joking aside, Nick said something very important. Relationship success takes skill.

Marriage requires the ability to be flexible and adaptable because being inflexible and stubborn is a recipe for disaster. Marriage also requires being realistic enough to know that while you may be theoretically correct about something, it’s rarely worth the fight to prove it. And, of course being both a great parent and an outstanding lover is a bonus in every marriage.

Perhaps actuaries have come up with the perfect equation for marital happiness. Should the rest of us sharpen our pencils and do the math?

Hi Sue: Just want to point out that I’m a mathematician/ IT person, so it’s only fair some of the credit should go to my profession. :))

I sometimes sang Nick the following song that Charles Aznavour performed on the Muppet show to divert his attention from his spreadsheets to me:

“Inchworm inchworm, measuring the marigolds,
You and your arithmetic will probably go far,
Inchworm, inchworm, measuring the marigolds,
Seems to me you’d stop and see how beautiful they are”



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