By Jody Valley
Grad school stole my partner away
Q: I am writing to you in hopes that you can get my partner, “Barbara,” to understand that she isn’t being fair to me. Here’s the deal. Barbara is currently in graduate school getting her Master’s in psychology. She has been in the program a year and still has at least a year to go. She is also working part-time to help with some of the bills. (I am taking on most of the bills).
When she decided to go back to school, I was against the idea because I felt it would take too much of her time and she wouldn’t have time for our relationship. She assured me this wouldn’t happen. She said she would always set time aside for me. Well, it isn’t happening and now she is getting busier than she was before.
She has her internship coming up; she feels she always needs to be studying for her comps; she has to meet with her professor two times a week; and then, she has to study for some other tests she has to take for the state to get licensed. The list of why she is so busy just goes on and on. I never see her without her head in a book, we never go out, and I don’t remember the last time we had sex. I tried to be patient at first because she said things would get better when she learned how to manage her time better while in school.
In the meantime I sit home watching TV, hoping she will look up from her books and acknowledge me. We are fighting more and more because she just doesn’t seem to get it. I want her to find a way to have more time for me, either that or I am going to start going out on my own. Barbara doesn’t want me to go out without her. Barbara reads your column every week – she seems to have time for that – so she would listen to you. Hurry and answer, so I don’t lose my mind sitting home. Waiting Forever
A. First of all, I want to assure you that you won’t lose you mind sitting at home, nor do you have to. And, it is important to support your partner in her trying to achieve her dreams – like you would want to be supported. My take on the situation is that Barbara didn’t understand the amount of time it would take to get her Master’s; it’s not that she lied to you about it. Graduate school is often more than a full time job. On top of that, she is working part-time, so I can understand that she doesn’t have much time to devote to a relationship. I can also understand that you don’t want to sit at home watching TV for the next year.
My first suggestion is that you and Barbara set up times each week to be together. Make sure they are times the two of you put in your appointment books. What about breakfast, a Friday night date, fixing a picnic and taking it to her at school, or meeting her for coffee? Find times she needs a break, and the two of you spend time together just walking and talking.
Does Barbara need to work? Can she cut some of her work hours to spend with you? If she didn’t have to work that would certainly free up some time for your relationship. Are there things you have wanted to try that you haven’t had time for? This would be the perfect opportunity to take painting classes, woodworking classes, join a book reading group, or spend time doing things you have always wanted to do.
Try to be patient with each other and with making this work; her schooling will be over before you know it.