School is incredibly rewarding, but it requires a significant investment of time and energy. An associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree involves classes and coursework over two years or so. There’s no question that this work is highly satisfying and helps people advance their careers — but it also takes time away from people and pursuits.
You might think that school requires sacrificing time with your spouse. This doesn’t need to be the case. With a little attention, concentration and planning, you can manage your relationship and coursework with ease.
The key to success isn’t balance, but integration. Don’t pit school and your relationship against each other; instead, see them as important, complementary components in your life.
Share a Calendar
One of the best ways to manage your personal life and schoolwork is by using a shared calendar. The calendar provides a visual representation of when you are busy and when you are available to do things with your spouse. As Florida Tech Instructor Jarin Eisenberg writes, “Establishing a master calendar for the term will also allow you to honestly assess your limitations.”
Google Calendar enables you and other people to contribute to a single calendar; Apple’s iCloud and other calendar services provide the same capability. Once you’ve set up your calendar, you can set aside blocks of time for schoolwork and other responsibilities you have.
When the shared calendar has both your schedules, you can find spots when you’re both free. Use these times to create date nights, weekday lunches, weekend activities and other shared interests. You might have less spontaneity, but understanding each other’s schedules will help you find time to share.
Include Your Spouse in Your Support Network
Schoolwork is challenging, and you might get stressed. That’s why building a strong network with your spouse, in addition to friends and family members, is critical. It might be tempting to keep your other half out of the loop because you want to spare him or her from the frustration you’re feeling. However, your spouse can provide much-needed sympathy, comfort and motivation when you need it the most.
Robin Davis-Thrasher, who has earned two degrees (MBA in Project Management and BA in Business Administration/Healthcare Management) from Florida Tech, credits the support of her husband and children and the sacrifices they made during her journey: “My husband believed in me before I believed in myself.”
Doug Martin, who also earned an MBA in Project Management, similarly credits his wife for his success: “Without her support and encouragement, I never would have made it this far in my academic pursuits.”
Be Realistic and Communicate Openly
You must understand that you won’t be able to do it all. More time for schoolwork will inevitably mean less time for your significant other. Because of this, it’s important to communicate with your husband or wife about why school is important to you and what you’re trying to achieve. When you don’t articulate these things, your spouse might not understand the importance you place on education and why you’re willing to make some temporary sacrifices in your relationship.
In addition, invite your spouse to communicate freely. Let he or she tell you what’s bothering them, and take the time to listen to their concerns.
Ask Your Spouse to Give You a Little Space
Your spouse can also help by allowing you to create an environment that’s conducive to studying. “Balancing work, family and school was a challenge,” writes former Marine Ed Herd, who graduated from Florida Tech with a BA in applied psychology. “Luckily, my wife would be sure to allow me quiet time for tests and writing papers by managing three kids for hours with no help. Sometimes it would be hard finding time between two jobs and family matters, but I got it done.”
Share Schoolwork Time
Just because you’re doing schoolwork doesn’t mean you can’t also spend time with your spouse. He or she probably has work to do as well. Find ways to spend this time together, perhaps at a coffee shop or in a library. You might even find that you enjoy working next to someone else more than working alone.
If Time Is Still an Issue, Consider Cutting Back on Something
If you’re still struggling to find time to spend with your spouse, you might need to consider sacrificing something else. Perhaps you need to cut back on TV or read fewer books. Remember that school is temporary. Once you graduate and achieve your goals, you and your spouse will have the time and resources you need to enjoy many pursuits.