The below question and responses were compiled by fellow graduate wife reader, Laura Lee. She surveyed several women on the journey and is sharing with us their answers. You can see her original post here, where she outlines her journey towards discovering the answers of a ‘balanced’ life during this season of being a graduate wife and beyond. This is part VI of the ‘What does a balanced life look like?’ series. Enjoy!
5) Part of a balanced marriage means allowing for time alone with your spouse to connect and share experiences together. How do you spend time with your husbands in the midst of their intense studying/working schedules? What are some big and little ways you connect and keep the flame alive?
- Spending time with husbands – I don’t know if anyone else can relate, but my husband is a massive perfectionist, and would work 12-16 hour days if I’d allow it. But, all that to say, we’re both fairly independent people, so most of the time, I don’t mind him working so much. However, sometimes, it does get to be a bit too much; but luckily, we’re both fairly astute at identifying it. We tend to spend most of the day on Sundays together, and once a week, we try to do something together like watch a movie, take a long walk, etc. Other than that, having dinner at night and fun emails and texts throughout the day is the way I feel connected to him. We try to do a date night once a month too, which I’ve found helps. When he does have a big deadline looming, I tend to give him his space, and let him do what he needs to do, so he’s not receiving any added pressure from me. I do find that during that time, it’s really difficult for me, because I often feel like a single parent. But, I also realize it’s only for a short season.
- My husband and I spend time each night after our daughter is in bed (usually around 7:30ish). However, there are times when he’ll have collections/tutorial essays to mark for the next morning or a lecture to prepare. And Saturdays are workdays for him, though they are ‘flexible’. He works from home, and we do something together as a family either in the morning or afternoon. Sundays are family days. Breakfasts and dinners are good times for us to connect, too.
- During the week my husband and I spend from about 7:30-9:30pm together. We enjoy watching a show on our computer, talking, reading the bible, etc. On days when he is going to be home after 6pm he tries to eat lunch at home so that he can see our son and we can have a little time together. We are very blessed because he gets to eat lunch at home about three out of five days. Saturdays he usually works part of the day and the other half we do something fun as a family. Sundays he usually takes off most of the day. There have been the dreaded weeks when he’s been working a ton and we don’t see each other as much. Those weeks are hard usually because our toddler is a lot of work when you have him 24-7 on your own…I think all toddlers are! But my husband will usually make it up to me by watching him one afternoon so I can have some “me” time. What’s worked best for us is always talking about our needs and expectations, and compromising.
- Ever since my husband began graduate work (2006!) we have worked VERY hard at treating his studies as a job. It’s 8:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday for him. That way when he comes home he is a dad/husband and not a 24-hour student who is taking a short intermission to tuck his kid into bed. (That wouldn’t be fair to any of us.) The truth is, once we leave school, life isn’t going to slow down and get easier. There aren’t going to be less pressures on his/our time and energy. The truth is, there is ALWAYS going to be more to read, research, study, write, DO. Everything isn’t going to magically become perfect once this grad school phase is over. So for me, it’s important that we work hard to maintain a healthy (for us) work/school/job balance NOW and make it a habit. And because of this, (I believe) he is more disciplined/focused during the days. That’s not to say he doesn’t work some nights and weekends or that he doesn’t send emails in the evenings or cram in some more latin homework the night before class – he does. Believe me, he does. It’s just the exception and not the rule. This commitment frees our nights/weekends up to play games, bake cookies, work in the garden, watch our favorite TV shows online, go punting, take our daughter on outings, do crosswords, etc. Some nights we just sit next to each other on the couch reading and on those nights, while I’m reading some riveting novel, he will most often choose a book for school. Which is fine – because we’re both reading. But there’s not much of a worse feeling (to me) than when your husband has been away from you all day reading books at the library and then he comes home and he would rather keep reading those same books night after night after night than spend time with you. I hate feeling like I have to either A.) Reluctantly DRAG him away from his books or B.) Live my life alone. The truth is, I WANT him to like what he does. I’m GLAD he loves his work. I just want him to show that he likes me (and our family) more. So his efforts to stick to an 8 to 5 schedule helps maintain my sanity and makes me much more gracious and supportive when working hours must be expanded (for whatever reason.)
- Well said above… things aren’t going to get easier once PhD is over and hubby has a job. If anything, from our experience, it is just the opposite! It only gets busier and more pressure packed once they have a job. My husband has been so good at setting boundaries for work. I am very thankful for this. There was a time during his first masters (in the States when there was tons of coursework) that I had day dreams of putting his computer in the bathtub and then just smashing it to bits! :) We’re in a much better place now, and it started when he was doing his PhD and we’ve carried that through. We connect by having dinner together as a family every night. He always does the dishes (I cook, he does the dishes) and then we put the kids to bed together. We’ve always said, our favorite time of the day is when the kids wake up in the morning and when they go to bed at night! We put them to bed early (usually by 7) and then enjoy our evening together. I love just chatting and hearing about his day. I feel important when he wants to tell me stuff or ask my opinion about something. He doesn’t enjoy watching tv so our evenings are tv-free. We talk, read, relax…enjoy our quiet house!