Marry Someone Smarter Than You Are

Entrepreneur Jim Rohn famously said,

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

While I am not convinced by the math behind this statement, I wholeheartedly believe we are influenced, for better or for worse, by those closest to us.

Friends and family are part of the kaleidoscope that determines who we are. They influence our decisions, our taste, our habits and our interests. New research shows they can even boost our intelligence.

In his new book, “Does Your Family Make You Smarter?” researcher James Flynn argues that intelligence is not fixed and explores how it can grow (or diminish) throughout the life span.  Spending time with bright people who challenge you, and having an intellectually demanding job, can raise your IQ by as much as 10 points.

According to Flynn, one of the best ways to boost intelligence is to marry someone smarter than you are. He conceives of the brain as a muscle—the more you use it the stronger it gets. What better way to flex your brainpower than to have a significant other who engages you in stimulating conversations and inspires you to stretch yourself intellectually?

Having a clever partner may also ward off dementia. During a lecture entitled Dementia, How Can We Protect Ourselves?, Professor Lawrence Whalley, emeritus professor of mental health in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, said:

The thing a boy is never told he needs to do if he wants to live a longer life – but what he should do – is marry an intelligent woman. There is no better buffer than intelligence.

I recently attended a dinner where the artist Brice Marden was being honored. Instead of giving a long-winded speech, he simply expressed thanks to his brilliant wife:

Thank you Helen. It’s been an amazing conversation all these years.

Have brilliant conversations. Surround yourself with people who elevate you. It will elevate your IQ too.


I wish you all the best,

Dr. Samantha Boardman