REPOST: Sharing Worlds

I studied interior design and art in undergrad.  My husband is pursing his D.Phil. in the philosophy of physics.  I like jam…good homemade jam that my lovely friend Kat makes at the beginning of summer and then gives to me all year long.  My husband likes peanut butter.  It is his staple food and he literally eats it on toast every single morning of his life.  He communicates through writing, being incredibly friendly with bullet points and annotations.  I‘d much rather show you a painting or play you a song to communicate something and I don’t even punctuate when I write.  We are opposite.  We are incredibly opposite, yet incredibly attracted to and curious about each other.

When we were dating long distance before we got engaged, I gained a new level of appreciation for the magic of Wikipedia.  Late at night as I sat curled up on the phone chatting with him, I was frequently online trying to figure out what on earth ‘quantum mechanics’ is, but better yet, all the philosophical implications that come with it.  It was a trying time in our relationship.  Many times I confessed to him that I thought I might not be the right person for him to marry since…..well, since I couldn’t help edit his papers because there were more equations in them than words.  I worried that we were just too different.  Thankfully, by the grace of God and a wise roommate, I was able to look past these fears and insecurities and began to see the beauty that is the diversity of gifts / strengths / and interests in marriage.

We’ve come a long way.  Almost every single night over dinner I hear about Einstein and Lorentz’s theories of relativity and what the true definition of a scientific explanation is.  I listen as my husband explains the quirky guy in his physics lecture or how well done the Powerpoint presentation was (since he knows my love for good design).  Because honestly if he didn’t, we’d be on different pages.  Not just different pages, different chapters.  It’s an effort.  I lose focus and start daydreaming about another cool image design for this blog and then I have to ask him to backtrack and share again.  He gets distracted when I share about my newest passion for the arts or tell him about the lecture on architecture that I just attended.  We know we are different.  As different as peanut butter and jelly…but how great we are when we share our worlds together.  What a good combination we are when we actively pursue unity and strive to share our differing worlds with the other.  I’ve seen far too many well-respected and admired marriages fall away, because ‘worlds’ weren’t shared.  One spouse had work or a dream that took so much of them that there was little energy left to share with the other about it or invite them into it.  One spouse dedicated themselves to their kids and then when they were all grown up and gone, there was such a massive gap between relating and sharing worlds with the other that they almost didn’t make it.

We aren’t perfect at this.  Heck, we’ve only been married three years, but I’m thankful we are trying.  On this graduate wife journey you almost have to.  To actively engage and share in your spouse’s world as best as you can.  So I need to mention one more thing:  backing up to the nightly dinner conversations about my husband’s day.  Before he shares his day, his reading, his world with me…he asks about mine.  He asks about how it was today with our 16 month old.  What did she learn, what did she do, how was her nap.  He asks how my time alone was, what did I get to read (if I found time), what was going on in my head and heart, what the status of the few part-time projects are that I am working on.  After all of that, then he begins to share.

It makes all the difference to me that he consciously reminds himself every day on the way home to ask about my day first, to validate my work as a wife, mother, and artist.  He knows that deep down it’s hard for me at times to be at home while he is studying, pursing his dreams.  He knows that sometimes I get cranky and sad and have pity parties because I feel like we are doing all of this for him and that my dreams are on the back-burner.  It would be incredibly hard for me to jump into, share, or even honestly care about his ‘world’ if he didn’t equally care about mine.

I know this isn’t always the case and we, like many, have learned the hard way, through tears and confusing discussions and misinterpreted emotions. I think in the end it was actually my idea that he asks about my day first and thankfully he took it to heart. We’ve learned that although we are incredibly different people, we are so much more beautiful people when we are unified together, more beautiful than we could ever be alone.  I just want to encourage you on this journey through graduate school, however distant at times you might feel from your spouse’s work, engage them.  Share your day with them and ask for them to share with you.  It’s challenging at times, but ever so enriching and fruitful.

-M.C.

In your journey, how have you and your spouse tried to “share your worlds”?

{disclaimer: So, I know peanut butter and jelly aren’t opposites per say…but I really liked the imagery and decided to go with it.}

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REPOST: Saving the world…(or something like that)

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go and do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.”

-Howard Thurman (1900-1981) minister, educator, civil rights leader

 

These words have haunted me ever since I first read them years ago, and they continue to now as I sit here with my macbook, curled up in a thousand blankets (because it is freezing in England).  Oh Howard Thurman, how true your words are; how freeing, how powerful they are for me to hear…yet, how hard they are as well.

I have always been a dreamer, a young girl with an overactive imagination and a lot of gusto.  I would get hooked on an idea and within minutes, I could convince my two younger brothers that it was the most important mission in the world, and that we had to dedicate our entire lives to it.  I was also incredibly swayed and romanced by anyone who could speak passionately, especially if they were speaking out for a cause. I watched (true confession) the Maury Povich show when I was ten years old and saw this horrid sad tale of children who died of e-coli in hamburgers, and I promise you that I have only eaten around two hamburgers since then. Because I had a heart for people, I was always attracted to the more extreme lifestyles and careers of those who were living to help/nurture/care for others, even when the lifestyle itself didn’t seem a good fit for me.  For a while, I was sure I would become a nun, then a missionary to Africa, then a doctor.  These people seemed to be the most effective in redeeming the world, and that was my passion, right?  So what if none of these careers seemed to match my strengths & gifts? How else would I be able to act out my passions in any other capacity?

Somewhere between the end of high school and the present, I have thankfully shed the ‘save the world/I can do it all’ mentality and have learned a lot about accepting who I am and living fully within my own skills, gifts and passions.  I have learned, as Howard so eloquently puts it, to stop asking what the world needs and trying to cram myself into certain molds that don’t seem to fit me.  I have learned to appreciate and to flourish in my natural gifts and skills, and I have prayed for eyes to see where they are needed and to be able to contribute and serve in those areas.

It hasn’t been peachy though.  It’s been a loooong  journey for me, and it has involved a lot anguish, fear, uncertainty and questioning.  Because, it’s sometimes easier to take the ‘road more traveled’ and to fall into social norms and to never let oneself dig deep…to dream….to fail and to grow along the way isn’t it?  I know that for some, it actually isn’t financially or physically possible to pursue as a career ‘what makes you come alive’ and I am so utterly thankful I have been able to do so.  I have learned that I am a far better spouse, mother, daughter and friend when I am able to pursue my true passions.  I’m beyond grateful.

But…of course you knew there would be a ‘but’.  It is a lot harder for some reason to encourage my husband at times when he feels the weight of Howard’s words upon him.  I think he actually struggles with this question (of pursing one’s passion) a lot more than I do.  It’s funny how he doesn’t struggle with figuring out what makes him come alive; he knows what does and it is clearly why we moved across the world making many sacrifices to follow that passion.  He is definitely doing what makes him come alive by studying, reading and dreaming of getting to teach one day.  Hands down he is the best teacher I have ever known.

However, he struggles with the reality of fully living that passion out and even though he doesn’t say it, I wonder if his thoughts go something like this:

“I am doing what I feel I was made to do, and I feel like this is exactly where I am supposed to be in life.  I’m so thankful, and I’m loving every minute of it.  BUT…my friend Andrew is literally saving lives in Africa.  He is working on water treatment facilities and he is using art to help heal children who were forced to be soldiers.  Amazing. And my friend Francis has given his entire life to do ground-breaking work in genomic research to help end life-threatening diseases.  And my friend Wendell is writing music that makes the world more beautiful.  And my friend Corrie…and my friend Hahna …  And I sit and think.  I sit in a library.  All. Day. Long.”

 It’s almost not fair contrasting his work to so many extreme examples, but then again it is hard not to.  Don’t get me wrong, I know we have friends right here in Oxford doing amazing research that is literally helping make changes in the world, but it’s hard at times to not contrast ourselves to those out doing seemingly more physical things with more immediate results.  Howard Thurman, it is amazing to get to tap into what makes you come alive and to pursue it, but it is also a hard task to figure out how/why/when/where that ‘passion’ plays into the bigger picture of one’s life and the greater good of the world around you.

We had some friends over for dinner last week and after an amazing discussion we both walked away encouraged and renewed at why ‘we are doing what we do’ here in graduate school, as the student and as the spouse.  We concluded, as we always do, that each of us was created unique and beautiful.  Each of us has a role to play and each of us has gifts that are to be used and enjoyed and applied to help make this world a more beautiful place.  I was affirmed in thinking that although my husband could do the work our friend Andrew does in Africa (these graduate students are always so competent), his heart simply isn’t into it, and it just wouldn’t work as beautifully if he tried to do it. My husband was blessed with a mind that loves logic and reason and loves philosophizing about things.  Big things.  Cool things.  Spiritual things.  Important things.

Sometimes even though the fruit isn’t always as evident in our work, we can’t give up on believing in a greater and deeper work that we are involved in.  Our lives are like a tapestry and each little stitch here and there is woven into a beautiful scene, but it is never fully seen until it is completed.

If you ever have felt this in your graduate wife journey, take courage.  You work is valuable.  Your work is important and its fruit might reach beyond anything you could ever imagine.  You might be creating a tapestry more beautiful than you could possibly dream of.

-M.C.

How have you dealt with these issues in your graduate wife journey?  Have you found anything particularly helpful or encouraging to shed light on this topic?


The Lives We Share

(credit)

written by Alison, a current graduate

“What did you do today?” is not a common question I hear from Michael, my husband, at the end of the day.  He typically asks, “How was your day?”  And, while seemingly it is the same question, they imply different things–the first what I did and the latter how it affected me.  Michael is not a “feelings” guy, so I do not believe his choice in question reflects a sensitive concern for my emotional well-being.  However, I do think the question embodies his thoughts and feelings toward what I do.

I am the graduate student in our relationship and am in a field you couldn’t pay my husband to study: counseling. I can’t blame him for not wanting to hear a typical response to what I really did that day, because most of them would involve stories of substance abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, or people in crisis situations.  Not quite the things Michael would prefer to think about while eating dinner or getting ready for bed.  In fact, it’s often not quite the things anyone wants to think of.

When I began working on my masters in counseling, I was not good at explaining to Michael what I was learning. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to tell him about it or that I didn’t think he could intellectually understand it, it was more that I knew counseling was not interesting to him at all. Michael would be a terrible counselor (he would tell you the same thing).  He has trouble grasping how I could want to listen to people emotionally vomit all day without simply telling them to “get over it.”

It can be difficult to explain to anyone, especially a spouse, a topic that can seem so foreign or uninteresting.  A couple will marry because they are in love, and fit together perfectly. I forget sometimes the reason we work well together is because we complement each other, which, of course, is a nice way of saying that we are different. I certainly do not want to be married to my clone, but sometimes, I think it may be kind of nice to have someone understand me without me having to explain everything! When it comes to my studies, I would love to be able to chat about whatever I am reading and for that person to just get it.  I admit I have been envious of my friends who are in the same profession as their husbands. It must be nice to not have to explain all the intricacies of the subject-matter or the professional career path.

Because of all of this, for the first semester or so, I did not share a lot of details about what I was learning, what was going on at school, what I was thinking about my future in this profession, etc.  He knew general things about my studies, but I did not try to really introduce him to this new world I was entering.  The problem that I did not foresee is that by not sharing that part of me, I was, in essence, hiding that part of me. A marriage can struggle when one spouse hides something from the other.  Obviously, he knew I was going to school and working in the counseling field, but I hid how the things I was learning was affecting and changing me.

It hit me one day (later in my program than I would like to admit) that the reason Michael and I did not talk about counseling is simply because I did not do much to help him understand the overall profession. So, using some of my counseling skills on myself, I made a plan to make an effort to open up more about everything. When I came home from class, I would tell him about the discussion topic and things that happened instead of just giving an “it was fine” type answer. When I came home from work, I would tell him more about my clients and more details about what I did that day. And, to no one’s surprise, he became more interested in the field.  I had not realized how much I needed to fully share that part of me with him, and it was great to feel the difference it made in our relationship.

I do have to be aware of when the counseling discussion has gone long enough or when I’m sharing too many details of my line of work.  I would imagine that most graduate spouses appreciate when their wife or husband remembers that he or she is not in their program and saves the real in-depth exploration of their field for their classmates.  We may share a life together, but that certainly does not mean he wants to discuss counseling theories all day!

To be part of my life, he is happy to talk with me about counseling-related topics. The same is true for me talking with him about his profession. It’s about actually taking the time to make an effort to open up about our interests and professions to help each other be part of those worlds. It is worth noting, though, that no matter how long or how often we discuss counseling, I am certain I will never convince him that “get over it!” is not an acceptable to response to my clients. :)  So, while I can’t expect him to become a counselor, I can know that he now understands me a bit better.

How do you and your graduate spouse share worlds? Do you have any tips that you’d be willing to share in the comments below?

‘Carry me home…’ & more thoughts on ‘sharing worlds’

‘Big wheels keep on turning…carry me home to see my kin’ 

These famous words are running through my ears as I start the tedious task of unpacking our suitcases that are tightly squeezed into my daughter’s closet (because we have no room elsewhere to store our summer clothes than inside these suitcases) and re-packing them for our Christmas visit that starts on Friday.

I have done all the laundry, thought through all the bare essentials I will need on my trip back to the states (because let’s me honest, you know I am needing all the space I can get in these suitcases to bring back some American treats on our return).  I hear my husband telling me what a great packer I am and I try desperately to keep my daughter entertained with my bracelet drawer from my jewelry box so she won’t start to un-pack all I’ve managed to squeeze in at this point.

Carry me home to see my kin…

I am going to Alabama on Friday.

I am going home to see my kin.

There is always a rush to make it to the awaited deadline of  ‘traveling home’.  So many dinner dates, lectures, evensongs, and coffee dates to squeeze in that we almost tire out before we get to the finish line. We sometimes feel like we try to squeeze every ounce out of the last few weeks before leaving.  We look forward to the time away…the time at home to rest, re-group with ourselves and our families and to feel refreshed.  Although, I know that  for some of us, this isn’t always the case.

 We live really interesting lives don’t we?  We graduate wives.  Many of us have moved away from our family and close friends.  Almost all of us have started over in a sense.  Almost all of us have forged new community around us (or are trying to) and forged  new friendships….which have become like ‘family’ in many ways, when we do find ourselves geographically distant from our actual families.  We have learned to live with many sacrifices and learned to live with much less than we thought we really needed.  We’ve learned how to support, how to give space, how to understand and how to communicate with our husbands in ways we would have never known if not for the graduate journey experience.  We’ve learned a lot about ourselves (and are daily doing so).  We’ve been stretched, challenged and shaped.  And most of all, almost all of us have…..changed.

We’ve changed.  We’ve lived some interesting, hard, wonderful, strange and fascinating stories. Try as we might, it is sometimes hard to communicate on skype just how drastic or significant the change in our lives and hearts might have become.

Sometimes there develops a large gap between our past ‘shared’ lives and our current lives as graduate wives.  For some of us the journey has been painful and it’s been easier to keep the heartache inside rather than try to share with family or friends back home.  For some of us the journey has been more enriching than we had ever imagined and we haven’t know just how to articulate the joys and highs with family or friends back home without making them feel ‘left out’.

With many of us traveling home for Christmas (yeah!) we thought we’d share the below.  It’s just a few thoughts that have helped us along the way as we’ve tried to share our graduate wife journey with those back at home.  I hope you will chime in with any insights or thoughts of your own as well!  Merry travels and enjoy your visits home!!

1)   Be as intentional as possible about sharing ‘your world’ before your trip home:  This one is a bit of a no-brainer, but I have found it so incredibly helpful to share little bits, even if it is just a quick email or a photograph or a one liner on the phone, about my life here.  I then have a seed planted and look forward to the chance to develop it more when I see the family/friend in person.  All it takes is a conscious effort to share things so that when you go for a visit it won’t seem a daunting task trying to fill in gaps on your life over the past months/year.

2)   Make a ‘thanksgiving list’ listing what makes you thankful for your home and your family/friends there:  This is incredibly helpful if you haven’t seen your family in a while and if you have become happily immersed in your current role of a graduate wife in a new environment and setting.  It is refreshing and helpful to remember where you come from and what joys you are getting to return to on your visit.

3)   Bring pictures, items, and souvenirs from your life now Pick up some of the traditional ‘local favorites’ of your new home.  If in England, bring home some tea to share, or if you moved to a new area of your country, bring home a regional cookbook or some local artwork.  Have a slideshow on your computer of pictures of your lives in your new home and point out the faces of new friends, your colleagues and the University.  Be creative on how to visually share your graduate adventure with others.

4)   Don’t set expectations that are too high:  Let your family be your family and let you be yourself!  Don’t try to force anything, don’t come with a long list of things you feel like you have to talk about or share.  Come prepared with lots to share of course, but don’t push it and don’t expect it all to come out at once.   Relax and try to just enjoy the time rather than always having an agenda.  When we are far apart it is so easy to want to pack in 1,000 things into the week or two of our visit, but try to limit that…allow for time to just ‘be’. And don’t expect everyone to ‘get’ you and your lifestyle, now.  Give them space to see and understand the changes you might have gone through.  This can be especially hard for someone who’s family isn’t all that familiar with ‘going back to school’ and lifestyles and research requirements that come with graduate programs. It might take time for them to process your new graduate wife/student lifestyle.

5)   Give them time:  Similar to what I just stated, step back, relax and give your family and friend’s some space.  Just like I shared in my first piece on ‘sharing worlds’, let them share first.  As my husband always asks about my day, before sharing about his, do the same with your family.  Ask, question, listen and learn from them and then give them space to start the process of digging into your life.

6)   Don’t compare your life to others: Beware of this.  It is so easy to do and before long you start wishing that you or your husband wasn’t in grad school and start to question why you ever decided to follow your dreams in the first place.  It’s tempting to look at friends with big houses, with no student budget and who don’t deal with the stresses of graduate school and get envious.  Maybe it is a good idea to even make a ‘thanksgiving list’ of why you are grateful to be a graduate wife and keep it handy as you are home and around friends and family that aren’t ‘in your shoes’.

-M.C.

Saving the world…(or something like that)

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go and do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.”

-Howard Thurman (1900-1981) minister, educator, civil rights leader

 

These words have haunted me ever since I first read them years ago, and they continue to now as I sit here with my macbook, curled up in a thousand blankets (because it is freezing in England).  Oh Howard Thurman, how true your words are; how freeing, how powerful they are for me to hear…yet, how hard they are as well.

I have always been a dreamer, a young girl with an overactive imagination and a lot of gusto.  I would get hooked on an idea and within minutes, I could convince my two younger brothers that it was the most important mission in the world, and that we had to dedicate our entire lives to it.  I was also incredibly swayed and romanced by anyone who could speak passionately, especially if they were speaking out for a cause. I watched (true confession) the Maury Povich show when I was ten years old and saw this horrid sad tale of children who died of e-coli in hamburgers, and I promise you that I have only eaten around two hamburgers since then. Because I had a heart for people, I was always attracted to the more extreme lifestyles and careers of those who were living to help/nurture/care for others, even when the lifestyle itself didn’t seem a good fit for me.  For a while, I was sure I would become a nun, then a missionary to Africa, then a doctor.  These people seemed to be the most effective in redeeming the world, and that was my passion, right?  So what if none of these careers seemed to match my strengths & gifts? How else would I be able to act out my passions in any other capacity?

Somewhere between the end of high school and the present, I have thankfully shed the ‘save the world/I can do it all’ mentality and have learned a lot about accepting who I am and living fully within my own skills, gifts and passions.  I have learned, as Howard so eloquently puts it, to stop asking what the world needs and trying to cram myself into certain molds that don’t seem to fit me.  I have learned to appreciate and to flourish in my natural gifts and skills, and I have prayed for eyes to see where they are needed and to be able to contribute and serve in those areas.

It hasn’t been peachy though.  It’s been a loooong  journey for me, and it has involved a lot anguish, fear, uncertainty and questioning.  Because, it’s sometimes easier to take the ‘road more traveled’ and to fall into social norms and to never let oneself dig deep…to dream….to fail and to grow along the way isn’t it?  I know that for some, it actually isn’t financially or physically possible to pursue as a career ‘what makes you come alive’ and I am so utterly thankful I have been able to do so.  I have learned that I am a far better spouse, mother, daughter and friend when I am able to pursue my true passions.  I’m beyond grateful.

But…of course you knew there would be a ‘but’.  It is a lot harder for some reason to encourage my husband at times when he feels the weight of Howard’s words upon him.  I think he actually struggles with this question (of pursing one’s passion) a lot more than I do.  It’s funny how he doesn’t struggle with figuring out what makes him come alive; he knows what does and it is clearly why we moved across the world making many sacrifices to follow that passion.  He is definitely doing what makes him come alive by studying, reading and dreaming of getting to teach one day.  Hands down he is the best teacher I have ever known.

However, he struggles with the reality of fully living that passion out and even though he doesn’t say it, I wonder if his thoughts go something like this:

“I am doing what I feel I was made to do, and I feel like this is exactly where I am supposed to be in life.  I’m so thankful, and I’m loving every minute of it.  BUT…my friend Andrew is literally saving lives in Africa.  He is working on water treatment facilities and he is using art to help heal children who were forced to be soldiers.  Amazing. And my friend Francis has given his entire life to do ground-breaking work in genomic research to help end life-threatening diseases.  And my friend Wendell is writing music that makes the world more beautiful.  And my friend Corrie…and my friend Hahna …  And I sit and think.  I sit in a library.  All. Day. Long.”

 It’s almost not fair contrasting his work to so many extreme examples, but then again it is hard not to.  Don’t get me wrong, I know we have friends right here in Oxford doing amazing research that is literally helping make changes in the world, but it’s hard at times to not contrast ourselves to those out doing seemingly more physical things with more immediate results.  Howard Thurman, it is amazing to get to tap into what makes you come alive and to pursue it, but it is also a hard task to figure out how/why/when/where that ‘passion’ plays into the bigger picture of one’s life and the greater good of the world around you.

We had some friends over for dinner last week and after an amazing discussion we both walked away encouraged and renewed at why ‘we are doing what we do’ here in graduate school, as the student and as the spouse.  We concluded, as we always do, that each of us was created unique and beautiful.  Each of us has a role to play and each of us has gifts that are to be used and enjoyed and applied to help make this world a more beautiful place.  I was affirmed in thinking that although my husband could do the work our friend Andrew does in Africa (these graduate students are always so competent), his heart simply isn’t into it, and it just wouldn’t work as beautifully if he tried to do it. My husband was blessed with a mind that loves logic and reason and loves philosophizing about things.  Big things.  Cool things.  Spiritual things.  Important things.

Sometimes even though the fruit isn’t always as evident in our work, we can’t give up on believing in a greater and deeper work that we are involved in.  Our lives are like a tapestry and each little stitch here and there is woven into a beautiful scene, but it is never fully seen until it is completed.

If you ever have felt this in your graduate wife journey, take courage.  You work is valuable.  Your work is important and its fruit might reach beyond anything you could ever imagine.  You might be creating a tapestry more beautiful than you could possibly dream of.

-M.C.

How have you dealt with these issues in your graduate wife journey?  Have you found anything particularly helpful or encouraging to shed light on this topic?


Sharing Worlds

I studied interior design and art in undergrad.  My husband is pursing his D.Phil. in the philosophy of physics.  I like jam…good homemade jam that my lovely friend Kat makes at the beginning of summer and then gives to me all year long.  My husband likes peanut butter.  It is his staple food and he literally eats it on toast every single morning of his life.  He communicates through writing, being incredibly friendly with bullet points and annotations.  I‘d much rather show you a painting or play you a song to communicate something and I don’t even punctuate when I write.  We are opposite.  We are incredibly opposite, yet incredibly attracted to and curious about each other.

When we were dating long distance before we got engaged, I gained a new level of appreciation for the magic of Wikipedia.  Late at night as I sat curled up on the phone chatting with him, I was frequently online trying to figure out what on earth ‘quantum mechanics’ is, but better yet, all the philosophical implications that come with it.  It was a trying time in our relationship.  Many times I confessed to him that I thought I might not be the right person for him to marry since…..well, since I couldn’t help edit his papers because there were more equations in them than words.  I worried that we were just too different.  Thankfully, by the grace of God and a wise roommate, I was able to look past these fears and insecurities and began to see the beauty that is the diversity of gifts / strengths / and interests in marriage.

We’ve come a long way.  Almost every single night over dinner I hear about Einstein and Lorentz’s theories of relativity and what the true definition of a scientific explanation is.  I listen as my husband explains the quirky guy in his physics lecture or how well done the Powerpoint presentation was (since he knows my love for good design).  Because honestly if he didn’t, we’d be on different pages.  Not just different pages, different chapters.  It’s an effort.  I lose focus and start daydreaming about another cool image design for this blog and then I have to ask him to backtrack and share again.  He gets distracted when I share about my newest passion for the arts or tell him about the lecture on architecture that I just attended.  We know we are different.  As different as peanut butter and jelly…but how great we are when we share our worlds together.  What a good combination we are when we actively pursue unity and strive to share our differing worlds with the other.  I’ve seen far too many well-respected and admired marriages fall away, because ‘worlds’ weren’t shared.  One spouse had work or a dream that took so much of them that there was little energy left to share with the other about it or invite them into it.  One spouse dedicated themselves to their kids and then when they were all grown up and gone, there was such a massive gap between relating and sharing worlds with the other that they almost didn’t make it.

We aren’t perfect at this.  Heck, we’ve only been married three years, but I’m thankful we are trying.  On this graduate wife journey you almost have to.  To actively engage and share in your spouse’s world as best as you can.  So I need to mention one more thing:  backing up to the nightly dinner conversations about my husband’s day.  Before he shares his day, his reading, his world with me…he asks about mine.  He asks about how it was today with our 16 month old.  What did she learn, what did she do, how was her nap.  He asks how my time alone was, what did I get to read (if I found time), what was going on in my head and heart, what the status of the few part-time projects are that I am working on.  After all of that, then he begins to share.

It makes all the difference to me that he consciously reminds himself every day on the way home to ask about my day first, to validate my work as a wife, mother, and artist.  He knows that deep down it’s hard for me at times to be at home while he is studying, pursing his dreams.  He knows that sometimes I get cranky and sad and have pity parties because I feel like we are doing all of this for him and that my dreams are on the back-burner.  It would be incredibly hard for me to jump into, share, or even honestly care about his ‘world’ if he didn’t equally care about mine.

I know this isn’t always the case and we, like many, have learned the hard way, through tears and confusing discussions and misinterpreted emotions. I think in the end it was actually my idea that he asks about my day first and thankfully he took it to heart. We’ve learned that although we are incredibly different people, we are so much more beautiful people when we are unified together, more beautiful than we could ever be alone.  I just want to encourage you on this journey through graduate school, however distant at times you might feel from your spouse’s work, engage them.  Share your day with them and ask for them to share with you.  It’s challenging at times, but ever so enriching and fruitful.

-M.C.

In your journey, how have you and your spouse tried to “share your worlds”?

{disclaimer: So, I know peanut butter and jelly aren’t opposites per say…but I really liked the imagery and decided to go with it.}