Help! My Spouse Wants to Go Back to School

Back to School Survival Guide for Married Couples


Whether your spouse is headed back to school to earn a master’s degree or to complete an unfinished college diploma, the impact will be considerable. Besides the obvious financial toll, there will be frustrations and sacrifices for everyone involved. To minimize resentment and preserve your closeness, it’s important to have a good plan of action. Here's our survival guide for when your spouse heads back to school.


Ask for help. School brings new responsibilities that take up time. This usually leaves you to assume more domestic responsibilities, such as laundry, cooking, cleaning and shuttling children to school and extracurricular events. You're not superhuman, so don't act like it. If you have friends and family who live nearby, ask them for help. Whether it's watching the kids for a couple of hours or giving the occasional ride, any amount of help can go a long way toward boosting your energy and preserving your sanity.


Focus on yourself. It's not uncommon for spouses to feel left out or left behind when their partners head back to school. Take this opportunity to embrace new activities and experiences. Now that your spouse will be busy with schoolwork, you're liable to have a lot more time on your hands. Don't waste it sitting in front of the television. Instead, use your time for self-discovery, whether that involves taking up yoga, reading more or participating in community events. It may not seem like it, but this could be a life-changing opportunity if you choose to frame it that way.


Be realistic. When a partner heads back to school, it can sometimes feel as if you're a single parent. Now is a good time to simplify life as much as possible. Understand your house won't always be spic and span and accept that every dinner will not be a gourmet meal. Ditch the guilt and take shortcuts wherever possible. This may mean ordering take-out more often or asking the kids to do more around the house. Whatever the case, don't feel obligated to be perfect when the circumstances are anything but.


Be understanding. While school brings fresh excitement and new opportunities, it also comes with significant stress. As an older person returning to school, your spouse may experience anxiety and doubt. He or she may also feel overwhelmed by new challenges. Try to be supportive and understand that you will have to make some sacrifices for the greater good. Tap your support network of friends, family or a therapist to unburden yourself of any resentment, frustration or fear.


Strive for fairness. While it's good to be understanding, it's also important to make your needs known. Sit down and make a plan about how you and your spouse will balance domestic responsibilities, school work and family time. School may be a necessity, but weekend golf might be something your spouse could sacrifice. Make your needs known without framing them as demands. It's also usually best to open discussions in anticipation of potential issues long before things get too hectic.


Whether you need support during major life changes or for day-to-day issues, we're here to help. Contact Foundations today for your free consultation!