The two-body problem in academia, or the dilemma for life partners who don’t work at the same university or within a reasonable commuting distance, has plagued married couples around the world. These days, the dreaded long-distance relationships are common for those with careers in academia. But quite a few professor couples at Emory have conquered this problem, finding ways to be together without sacrificing their careers. As Valentine’s Day approaches, married professors at Emory shared their own love stories with the Wheel.
Jessica Wahman and John J. Stuhr
Looking to celebrate their eight-year wedding anniversary this May are Senior Lecturer Jessica Wahman and Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and American Studies John Stuhr. Wahman and Stuhr had their romantic but low-key wedding at the Pilgrim Hill in Central Park in 2012. Wahman said that she actually met her husband at a conference about American philosophy, where Stuhr was promoting his book. She had interacted with him professionally for a long time before they were committed to becoming life partners.
“[At that time, Stuhr] was a professor at [Pennsylvania State University],” Wahman said. “I was finishing my graduate degree. We were at different universities, different places in life. [But] I thought he was special.”
In 2011, when they found out they both liked each other as more than colleagues, Wahman was teaching at Dickinson College (Pa.), and Stuhr was a professor at Emory. After their wedding in 2012, they both moved to Atlanta where Wahman joined the Emory College Department of Philosophy.
Wahman said she enjoyed working alongside her spouse because the nature of academic institutions is very independent.
“It puts us in a situation where we are colleagues, we teach our own classes and we do our own things,” Wahman said. “It creates a very close relationship because we have so much in common. And in terms of rhythms of the work, we don’t have two careers that are pulling against each other.”
To those who are single, Wahman gave her insight on finding “the one.”
“Don’t be impatient,” Wahman said. “The right one is always better than just having someone.”
As for the ladies, Wahman emphasized the importance of finding someone who values your talent and intelligence.
“I’m very glad that I waited till I found someone who would respect my intellect, someone who wouldn’t be threatened if I got into intellectual arguments with him,” Wahman said. “It’s okay to be a smart woman.”
Jeremy Weaver and Susanna Widicus Weaver
Senior Lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies Jeremy Weaver and Professor Susanna Widicus Weaver, both in the Department of Chemistry, met each other through a mutual friend in 2004 while finishing their doctorate degrees at the California Institute of Technology. After the wedding, they both pursued postdoctoral careers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign before finally coming to Emory in 2008.
While Jeremy Weaver’s academic concentration delves more into analytical chemistry and Susanna Weaver’s into physical and astrochemistry, both have found that working in the same field and at the same university makes them closer partners.
“We understand what the other’s doing, so it’s easy to talk about our jobs with each other,” Weaver said. “I usually start my classes at the beginning of a semester by telling my students a little bit about me, and for a while, I try to keep [my marriage] separate. My wife started teasing me that our students wouldn’t know we are married because I never mention it, so now we do make a point to talk about each other in class.”
Now a husband of 15-and-a-half years, Weaver believes the secret to a good relationship is to “be supportive of each other” and “always remember the good times.”
Jeremy Bell and Dilek Huseyinzadegan
Lecturer Jeremy Bell and Associate Professor Dilek Huseyinzadegan, a couple in the Department of Philosophy, don’t plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day at all. In fact, over the past 15 years that they have been together, they have never celebrated Valentine’s Day because they celebrate the spirit of love all year round.
“We’ve been together for 15 years, and still when I hear her get up in the morning, I have a rush of excitement,” Bell said.
Having been married for a little over 12 years, Bell and Huseyinzadegan first met at DePaul University (Ill.). After graduation, they moved to Istanbul, Huseyinzadegan’s hometown, for a year before coming to Atlanta to teach at Emory.
Bell shared how he and Huseyinzadegan deal with the two-body problem.
“Before we ever went onto the market, we knew it was going to be difficult,” Bell said “We knew, one day, one of us would probably have to make a sacrifice. Fortunately, Emory is amongst the few universities in the country that is making great efforts to bring spouses together, so we got very lucky.”
As someone who studies ancient philosophy, Bell uses it to guide his life and relationships.
“My central belief in this regard is that, at some point, you are going to be confronted with the choices of preferring yourself over somebody else or preferring somebody else over yourself,” Bell said.“I think a lot of people go to pursue their own self-interest, thinking that it’s going to make them happy. But they ended up very unhappy because it turned out that real happiness is in connection with other people. I think we are not often sufficiently aware of that.”
Currently, Bell and Huseyinzadegan are faculty in residence on the Clairmont campus, where they have lived for the past few years. They have since welcomed a Welsh Corgi puppy to join them. There, Huseyinzadegan runs the Political, Ethical, Academic, Community Experience (P.E.A.C.E.) Living Learning Community, Emory’s first living-learning community.
Romantic love in academia is more common than one would think at Emory, and for those who are single, you never know if you will find something like that too!