You know how people think it’s sweet when a couple can finish each other’s sentences, or they often tell each other “I was just thinking the same thing!”  Tiffany and I did that.  Cute, right?  We thought it was just the usual young love (or whatever).  Nothing to be concerned about; I was sure it would pass.

Now, fifteen years later, I just think we’re weird, but at least there’s a biological explanation.

Shortly after we married we lived in a college town.  We saw a flyer posted by a grad student in the school’s psychology department soliciting participants for a study about communication between newly married couples.  The premise was not necessarily exciting but, here’s the best part, if you took part you got paid!  It was only around $60, but that’s a nice night out given our standards back then (and even now, actually).  We applied to be guinea pigs and were accepted.

We went to the small office building at the edge of campus where they were conducting the “experiments”.  Thankfully their only instruments were pencils and papers – no sharp or probing tools, just questions.  We split up.  Tiffany went into another room while I took a questionnaire in the waiting room.  The questions were numerous, predictable and rather mundane.  They were in the “strongly disagree – neutral – strongly agree” format (for example:  “I believe money or finances are an important part of a relationship.”).  While I don’t remember the details, unless the husband and wife’s answers were significantly different, I doubt the questions revealed much about the couple.

Clearly, this is a…uh…hmmm.

In the other room, Tiffany was shown various ink blots and asked to describe what she saw in the image, like the old Rorschach tests.  The researcher jotted down her response – no right or wrong answers.  Then we switched and I got my chance at the ink blots while Tiffany attacked questionnaire in the other room.  I started giving my Rorschach responses and the researcher was acting a little weird – almost suspicious.  We each finished and Tiffany and I went home.

We returned a few days later to pick up our pay for participating.  The researchers took a little extra time with us.  They explained that the purpose of the research was to analyze each member of a couple individually and determine the values each person believes makes a relationship successful (via the questionnaire) and, separately, to analyze how each individual’s brain functions (via the ink blots).  As I recall, the primary goal was to determine if there was a biological basis for couples to have similar values with respect to marriage and relationships.  For example, does a couple whose brains work similarly tend to have similar values regarding relationships, and might that translate to better communication – or something like that.

During our debrief, the researchers sought reassurances that Tiffany and I had not known the details of the process beforehand, or somehow shared information during the experiment.  Apparently, our test results, especially the ink blot portions, were so similar, our compatibility “score” (or whatever) was off the charts.  The researchers actually were reluctant to include our data in their results because we were such outliers.  Not only did we see things in the ink blots no other test subjects did, Tiffany and I used the same, peculiar words to describe what we saw.  “I see a woman wearing an African head-dress.”  “I see a circus with fireworks in the background.”

It got kind of creepy.

We do not finish each other’s sentences much anymore.  I think we still could in a pinch, but the biggest challenge right now is getting our own thoughts in order.  Such is modern family life.  Anyway, despite telling the researchers we were not in cahoots, I’m still not sure they believed us or used our results.  Regardless, we still got paid, got to have a nice evening out, and have a good story to tell.  At dinner that night, I still had to ask Tiffany what looked good to her on the menu – we’re not mind readers, after all.  I can’t recall what she ordered, but I suspect I ordered the same thing.

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