I first met my husband in college, during our undergraduate years. We started dating and even graduated in the same semester. During this time, he told me over and over again that he was going to go to grad school for his Ph.D. I kept saying okay, I know. But he would then tell me that I would be placed 3rd in his life of priorities. First would be school, second his mom and sister, then third would be me. Initially, I was offended in how I could be placed so low. Did he really care? Should I break it off with him? Would I ever move up on his list? Well, I stuck with it, with him. I was with him during his year break for research, with him for GRE studying and test taking, and with him for the application and intervewing process. Sure, these things took up some of his time. But little did I know at the beginning, that his time was about to get less and less.
When he originally talked about grad school, he would always tell me that he would have little time. Knowing this up front definitely helped my mind to prepare for what was to come on the next several years. For the first few years, his program was class heavy and research-intensive. There were many late nights both at home and on campus (where he didn’t have me for distraction). This time was very hard, but on the days he studied at home and on the weekends he would take a break to have dinner with me. Dinner was basically our only time together. To prevent feelings of loneliness, I tried to fill up my calendar with activities, especially on the weekends. Doing this helped SO much!
Once his class schedule lightened up, hos research and publication writing picked up. His research involved speaking with people so he ended up having to travel around the state about every other weekend. This time became a little tougher, but still I knew this time was temporary and would soon be over. And it was.
He and I had been together for about 5 years at this point, and he had expressed how much I meant to him and I had moved up in his priority list to where his mother and sister are! We were married in 2017! We had a 2 week honeymoon, then he was right back to it.
For a while we started to feel stagnant, like he wasn’t progressing and felt as though we would be in that state of business and no together time forever. Mind you, he research sample size was smaller than it needed to be, so we were put a year behind schedule. Then finally, his research came together and his Master’s thesis was accepted. We finally hit milestone! It felt like we were moving again! As if our life was a concrete wheel that started to roll again, I swear I could hear the rolling! Lol. Now, he only has maybe a class a semester, work on his dissertation, teach an intro class, and study for his licensure exams.
The time of his licensure exam studying was even worse than course studying. But he was progressing now, we can see the light, so it didn’t seem to bother me much. He passed them all! Next, he had to apply for internships. Boy the amount of stress this caused him. But it was awesome that he let me be a part of it, be wanted my thoughts and opinions on his personal statements, and even input of what locations he should apply to. This made me feel like excited and just happy that he wanted to include me, I felt so appreciative that he considered me in his future career decisions.
He went on his internship interviews and matched on the first round, got his number 1 pick! I let him decided how he wanted to order his preferences though, this is his career after all. Now, here we are just waiting for him to start his internship, them by this time next year we’ll find out where he’ll complete his post-doc and possibly move to officially settle down and hopefully start a family.
Once that wheel started moving again, it started off slow but then moved very fast. We’re bit still in shocked that we’re here near the end of the journey. But I’ll tell you, we recently read that most couples break-up or divorce when one attends a Ph.D program. I’m glad I read this after the hardest part was over.
If he hadn’t told me ahead of time of what to expect, that could have been us. If I didn’t understand or truly support his goal, that could have been us. If he didn’t take those 20-30 minute breaks to eat dinner and tell me he loves me, that could have been us. If I had dwelled on not spending time instead of finding things to fill my time on my own, that could have been us. If I didn’t believe in his goal, if I didn’t understand and instead tried to hold him back, that could have been us.
Through experience, the relationship is absolutely a two way street of effort and understanding in order to make it through. We’ve about made it, and the hard part is but a memory. If we can do it, you all can too. Keep going. The Ph.D program is a temporary situation that like all things, shall pass. 🙂🤗 Hang there!