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When Your Spouse Goes Back to School

When one spouse goes back to school, the other feels like he or she is on the outside looking in. Someone they deeply love is (ideally) pursuing something they're passionate about, devoting time, and energy into learning new skills or ideas in order to find employment that will help the couple maintain a certain standard of living for the next season of life. Likewise, the student is also changing. As they encounter new ideas and have new experiences, the spouse is often clueless, not knowing how this new knowledge is shaping or changing his or her spouse.

And then, before you know it, it's like you're married to someone else. The person you knew before school started may now have different perspectives, work habits, viewpoints, friends or goals. And unless you're clued in, you're in danger of not knowing who you're waking up to each morning.

So, what's a guy or girl to do when their loved one is studying away:

  • Learn how to cook. Make your student spouse's day a million times better by having a hot meal ready when he/she comes home after a long day of class, clients and crises. Whether you simply heat up a frozen pizza or perfect a veggie quesadillas, a warm delicious meal can show your concern for his/her day.
  • Change your schedule and get more done. School schedules consist mainly of evening classes, which may not apply to everyone, but by moving your schedule around to work late when he/she was in class until 8, you are able to get more done, go more places, meet more people, work on more deals, and develop more ideas. This also means you don't spend chunks of time on the couch doing nothing, waiting for him/her to get home. That may mean you can take up a new hobby or learn a new skill. Whatever you do, use the time wisely and be productive.
  • Make friends with a couple - preferably one where everyone likes everyone else. When the students in each relationship are studying late or working on a special project, the spouses will go to grab a drink or catch a game. Everyone's happy, and it's a great way to take a load off. Also, while your spouse's out making new friends, so are you, and that's important for each partner.
  • Take a load off. When your spouse goes to school, congratulations! You've just become a concierge. Because you want your spouse to succeed in school and in the eventual job search, handle all non-school related items. Grocery shop, wash clothes and pay the bills. Take the cars in for oil changes and feed the cat. Be happy to do those little things to make their stressful time a little less so. In a good relationship, you should be doing little things for the other person anyway, but when someone's in school, they've got enough on their plate.

Marriages and degrees are both technically just sheets of paper. But good ones are treated like so much more.


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