Thursday, November 20, 2014

On Marriage and Grad School

There is no diploma awarded for successfully surviving your spouse’s graduate school program.  It’s true – you also cried. You were awakened at all hours of the night. You did the laundry, shopping, cooking, cleaning and money earning for two this whole time, and you tried very hard not to keep score. Maybe you moved to a new city and got a new job. Maybe you spent some late nights and long car rides debating a subject you know nothing about, and your lunch break googling design parameters. You dreaded the stress of finals week and you celebrated the end of each semester (even though you realized that you were not the one getting a 3 week break). You cared. You invested. And now that it’s time for graduation, you may be feeling like you don’t matter.

It’s no secret that being married and in grad school sucks for everyone involved. One of the things that made the whole thing bearable for me was the fact that I really felt like we were doing it together – He needed to focus, so I made sure that he didn’t have to worry about any of those day-to-day functioning things like bills, oil changes and obtaining food. Then any free time he had was spent re-charging and spending quality time with me. I take pride in the fact that I contributed to his success by always supporting him, listening to his ideas and critiquing his work when he asked. Now that he’s about to don his cap and gown, and everyone is calling him Master, I feel


It also doesn’t seem right to take any of this moment away from him – he earned it! And I’m sure he could have done it without me, though he would smell worse and have slept less. I’m not asking for a ticker tape parade, or to have my name stamped on the diploma. I don’t really think I’m asking for anything, actually. It’s not terribly comfortable; it feels like a let-down right now. But just because I won’t be receiving an advanced degree in exchange for all my work, doesn’t mean it isn’t a team victory. I’m learning that marriage is sometimes about quietly standing behind the person you’ve chosen to share your life with, in the shadows, and having their appreciation be enough.

And maybe taking a really extravagant vacation together too.