I met Brad long before he started studying to be an archaeologist. When we met, Brad barely thought he’d graduate high school, nevertheless, pursuing a degree in Archaeology.
At 17-years-old, Brad was a helpful kid, with a chip on his shoulder (rightfully so, I later learned); who believed he was not intelligent enough to go to college and looked at school with disdain except for one course – History.
Bradly spent countless hours studying history. It was the only courses he ended with grades higher than B’s, and the courses he was the most passionate about. When we moved in with each other at 18/19, I would wake up to him watching a history channel documentary (before the days of “Aliens built the Pyramids” before going to work his crappy, manual labour jobs. For most days, between this and building out our PC; those were the only things that made him happy.
Once I finished University, Brad quit his terrible job and went to school full-time. I took over as breadwinner and he started going to courses. He had difficulty at first, with it being multiple years after high school; but he got through it. He started on studying Physics, with the idea of doing his post-graduate in Aerospace Engineering, but after a few misfires and frustration, he decided to take a break for the summer and take a few Anthropology/Archaeology courses he needed for Humanities credits.
He immediately fell in love and changed his major.
Fast forward to now – It’s been almost 6 years of him studying and working in Archaeology. Previously, I had been afraid he would get out into the field and would have flashbacks to the years of manual labour and hate it immediately. However, those fears were unfounded. He loved being in the field, because it allowed him to get his hands dirty, while still use his brain to puzzle solve and go through the records.
His job is that exciting one that people are always shocked to meet someone in person. Like a Cartographer or Flavourist. They are jobs you know exist, but the likelihood of you meeting one in the wild is a strange thing – unless you live in York, to be honest.
All of these factors make being married to an Archaeologist an interesting existence. So, here are some of the highs and lows of it, which may also impact anyone who is interested in the career themselves.
- You’re away from home a lot: Since Brad started going out in the field, he has been away from home. It’s less so in the United Kingdom (which is great) but back home, he would have to drive anywhere from 5-14 hour away from home and live in a tent while working on a site. It was gruelling for not just him, but for me – because he often did not have any cell service and if something happened (like the car becoming trashed in a hail storm), I wouldn’t know for hours and then would be hours away from solving the issue.
- You miss things: Not just your belonging, but moments – you aren’t working a 9-5. You will sometimes miss opportunities to hear about someone’s day, cook dinner together and in the case of what happened to us, you will get 14 hours away for a graded field school, and your mother-in-law will pass away. It was a time period where Brad wanted to be there for me, but he was 14 hours away and coming back could have cost him his grade, which he needed for graduation and Grad school.
- You will be tired: Brad worked manual labour before he went to archaeology, so for him, this is life. It can be exhausting some days, but he finds it much nicer to his body than jumping fences. However, if you are not a living caricature of an adult Boy Scout, with years of outdoor work environments – this job may be a bit too rough on you. It’s not a job for everyone and most nights, you come home just to lay on the couch with a beer.
- You will be buried in paperwork: You thought it was just adventures? Nope, there are multiple days when Brad would be stuck in a field tent just labeling and writing field reports. He would go from being filthy and in a trench all day, to sitting at a desk, revising multiple reports to make sure no details went missing. It’s a bureaucratic industry, and if you aren’t used to government regulations and how invasive they can be sometimes, it can throw you off.
- No one will know what you do, and it doesn’t matter: I mean this in the best way. You go to a party, the moment people know what you get paid to do, they will find you the coolest person in the room – but they will have no clue what you do. You have two options: Be a pretentious prick and talk down to them, using industry terms, or take the time to explain it in general terms. The thing is, what you are doing is something that multiple other people have only dreamed of – and they really don’t care that you had to complete 15 reports for grant funding. What they do care about is if you have found gold and if you’ve been published.
- They will also mistake you for:
- Crime Scene Investigation
- Surveyor (Especially if you do commercial archaeology)
- You will not make a lot of money: I say this in the nicest way. When Brad concluded on Archaeology, I was alright with it because I work in Tech. I’m hoping to get my shit sorted so when I retire, I can go back to writing and I can hang around him and his successes. But, we always knew it was on me to make that kind of money. Because the industry, with all of the pain involved in it, does not pay well. It’s part of the reason why so little of people stay in the field. Even commercial pays little, minus a few key roles, due to their use of temporary and volunteer employees.
- You should get involved: Seriously. This is one of those jobs where you miss out on a lot of time together. If you get a chance to go and see your spouse at a site – do it. One, it’s kind of fun. Also, they are so used to volunteers and community members that it’s not odd to have spouses and other people there. For Brad, at least, it made the digs go faster knowing that I would be camping out with him for a day or so, when I could. It gave him something to look forward to; especially when he was 5-14 hours away from home. Now, it’s not too big of a deal, but I still try to, because it’s nice when someone takes an interest in what you do for a living.
Bonus one, but not from the perspective of an archaeologist: You will sometimes make your spouse jealous.
I enjoy my job, but a passion for what I do has always been hobbies because, like Archaeology, Journalism doesn’t pay shit. Everyone I’ve ever met, where both individuals had their dream jobs, didn’t pay for their degrees and had parent’s paying some of their bills. Neither of us had the luxury. The thing is, I do enjoy my job. It takes a lot of analytical thinking and problem solving, which keeps me fresh. But it lacks the danger, intensity that I had in Journalism. Looking back on it – I made the right call, but it will never stop me from being a tiny bit jealous when we are at parties and everyone hangs on Brad and when I’m asked what I do, I get a sip and nod motion; then they ask Brad about Roman Coin hordes.
This is something that as the Power Couple of 2017, we’ve had to work through multiple times. I, luckily, have a husband who supports me in other ways and lets me live vicariously through him from time to time, while also taking a stronger interest into what I do, than most people I know. Marrying an Archaeologist is not a role for weak-willed people. You will have to be the only person in the room sometimes and you are also their support – You have to be willing to do that without expecting anything in return.
But it’s their job to give it back in return; or you are setting up your relationship for failure. That’s how you keep it going.
That, and an SAT Phone.