After lots of discussions with you, your spouse goes back to school. Although you support this for a practical and personal reasons, it’s a significant change to your everyday life and a chunk of time apart. You may feel like you are a little sidelined or are even a little anxious about the ‘new’ student life your spouse is leading.
Do I Know You?
The spouse you deeply love is now devoting time and energy to pursue something he or she is passionate about. Often the goal is to acquire a credentialed set of skills that fulfills an long-term educational objective and results in employment that ensures a certain standard of living for the next season of your lives.
In this new arena, your spouse is changing – encountering new ideas, new people and having new experiences. And then, before you know it, you feel like you’re waking up to a stranger each morning. The person you knew before school started may now have different perspectives, work habits, viewpoints, friends or goals. And you feel like you’re married to someone else.
Making It Work for Both of You
So, what’s a guy or girl to do when their loved one is studying away?
• Change your schedule and get more done. Most classes take place in the evenings. If you can arrange your schedule to work later, that’s great and you will both be coming home around the same time.
• Invest in yourself. Use the time to learn a new hobby or learn a new skill. Something you’ve always meant to do, but your home schedule made it difficult to carve out the time. This also means you don’t spend chunks of time on the couch doing nothing, waiting for him/her to get home.
• Join’em. If there is an opportunity to meet classmates and socialize, perhaps you can meet another couple in the same situation. So when special projects or studying late for exams comes up, the spouses can grab a drink, go shopping or catch a game. It’s a great opportunity to expand your circle of friends and your spouse won’t feel like you are being neglected.
• Chore Patrol. Somebody’s got to do it. When your spouse goes to school, congratulations! You’ve just become a concierge. Take over the small stuff until you reach the finish line. Since the mutual goal is a degree leading to a successful job search, make the household work to support it. Grocery shop, wash clothes and pay the bills. Take the cars in for oil changes and feed the cat. And having a hot meal ready after a long day of classes, clients and crises can make your spouse’s day a million times better.
Working and going to school leaves little time for anything but the basics. Be happy to do those little things to make a stressful time a little less so. Remember this is a joint decision and when your spouse graduates, so do you.
Marriages and degrees are both technically just sheets of paper. But good ones are treated like so much more.
©2017 Alpha Center for Divorce Mediation