One month after we got married my husband started his graduate school program. We were young and naive 22 year olds – thinking we could take on the world.
The next three and a half years were extremely hard on our marriage. Not only was my husband in school, he also was working 60-80 hours a week AND serving as the worship ministry director at our church. Since we had committed to paying for his Master’s degree out of pocket and his job worked with him to be able to have time off for school (even with the long hours), there really wasn’t much we could cut back on. My paycheck went directly to his school and we lived off his.
Three and a half years were spent grabbing at any moment we could have together. Weekends away were a huge deal and we’d spend our time reconnecting only to spend another two or so weeks only seeing each other when we fell into bed for the night.
Being married in graduate school is not easy, but it IS doable.
Yes, our first three and a half years of marriage were not spent the way most married couples spend their pre-kids days. In fact, we didn’t have pre-kids days since our son was born two weeks before my husband finished his last class. BUT… We learned and grew so much, especially outside of the classroom.
WE LEARNED HOW TO COMMUNICATE
Our time together was precious so we didn’t want to spend it in miscommunication. We did whatever we could to make sure we were on the same page with one another. We learned how to ask clarifying questions. We learned how to listen without interrupting. We learned how to empathize with one another. Yes, of course there were times when that didn’t happen and an evening would be spent in frustrated tears (on my part) because we just were majorly disagreeing but those times became more and more few and far between.
WE LEARNED HOW TO BE ON THE SAME PAGE
Before Nate began his Master’s program we had many, many long talks about whether or not it was right for us as a couple. From the get go we were on the same page and I was in full support of his dream. If we hadn’t been on the same page with that, our marriage would have suffered and possibly even fallen apart. Even though we were on the same page about that, we still needed to learn how to be on the same page with everything else. A lot of this comes back to learning how to communicate but it also comes down to getting our dreams, desires, goals, and passions in line. No, we’re not trying to become the same person and I have plenty of dreams that are mine while my husband has plenty of dreams that are his. We just learned how important it was to make sure our dreams lined up with each other and how to support one another in our dreams.
WE LEARNED TO GIVE ONE ANOTHER GRACE
Even with good communication and being on the same page, issues came up time and time again. When they did, we learned that we just needed to give one another grace. My husband was tired and frustrated since his days were all spent working, in class, or doing homework. I was lonely and hated seeing my husband so stressed. Our marriage was in survival mode for three and a half years. Instead of blowing up at one another and causing huge chasms to be created in our relationship, we learned to give grace. When he was short with me, I gave him grace. When I was snarky with him, he gave me grace. We knew it was tough for both of us and we did everything in our power to help the other person out and keep our marriage strong.