Being a graduate student is no easy feat. Juggling time between work, school, and family requires serious time management and organization skills--not to mention, tons of patience and willpower, including the willingness to forego sleep and social life.
If your significant other is working to obtain a master's or doctoral degree, it’s normal to sometimes feel neglected. However, it’s worth pointing out that many students pursue higher education not so much for personal gain but for the opportunity to provide a better life for their families--including you.
So how can you support your spouse during what could be the most stressful time of their lives?
We’ve listed a few ways:
4 Ways to Support Your Spouse in Graduate School
Respect Their Study Time
Graduate school is physically and mentally draining. Projects, classes, homework, and various other requirements take more time than expected. Graduate students are in a constant race against the clock, and even a short delay at the doctor’s office is an opportunity to squeeze in some review time.
As such, make sure to give your spouse the space and time they need to study.
Take Care of Some of Your Spouse’s Household Duties
Going home to a messy, dirty house after a long day of work and classes will likely stress your spouse all the more. If you have downtime and you notice that your significant other has to stay up late just to take care of household chores on top of all the other things they need to do, volunteer to take on extra work.
Not only will they be grateful for the help, but you two can also have a little more time to enjoy each other’s company.
Get Them to Take a Break
It may seem counter-intuitive, especially with looming project deadlines, but taking breaks, even just short ones, are vital for productivity. Burnout is real, and while studying seriously is key to graduate school success, breaks, such as quick, short walks around the neighborhood, can revitalize the brain.
When you notice your spouse working non-stop all weekend on a project or research, encourage them out of the house by inviting them to grab a bite at a nearby cafe or have some ice cream. If that’s not possible, cook a meal for them or bring home some take-out.
Related Article: Nine Tips for Professionals Going Back to School
Be the Encouragement They Need
Graduate students are a vulnerable population. In fact, according to a Harvard-affiliated research report, graduate students are three times more likely to experience “moderate or severe symptoms of depression and anxiety” than the general population. Plus, 10% of the respondents had suicidal thoughts for several days within the prior two weeks.
Words of encouragement, therefore, like letting your spouse know how proud you are of them, celebrating their accomplishments no matter how big or small, and doing what you can to help them succeed may just be what they need to keep pushing.
Keeping your relationship happy and healthy while your spouse is in graduate school can be a challenge. But understanding that graduate school life comes with a whole host of sacrifices, and being there for them when they need encouragement, can greatly ease the stresses of a graduate program--and make your relationship with your significant other even stronger.