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Committed Relationships and Grad School

Maintaining Your Relationship During Grad School

It's not easy maintaining a romantic relationship while attending graduate school. If not handled properly, complex and challenging issues can lead to resentment and detachment. To minimize threats to your relationship during this demanding time, keep these strategies in mind.

Communicate and plan. To minimize the impact of inevitable issues, it pays to communicate both before and during difficult times. This means exchanging information, while being honest about emotions and fears. It also means maintaining sensitivity to your partner's feelings and thoughts. This is the best way to prevent resentment from building up over time. It also sets the stage for good, healthy communication when inevitable issues arise further down the line.

Set clear boundaries. It's important to establish boundaries for your relationship and your program of study. Without limitations, a graduate program can quickly usurp all other interests. Without relationship boundaries, your partner can have a negative impact on your studies. To keep yourself from getting overly enmeshed either way, it's important to set aside time for school, while creating separate time for your personal life.

Negotiate where appropriate. Graduate level training brings unique demands that cannot be overlooked. Acknowledge and plan for this by negotiating ways you and your partner will bridge the gap between irregular school hours, intense or abrupt academic demands, unanticipated school activities and study sessions with school peers. Reward your partner's sacrifices by making extra time whenever possible. To maintain a healthy relationship, you have to balance the scales of compromise.

Help with domestic responsibilities. Because it comes with irregular demands, graduate school can create imbalance in household duties. Make it clear that you do not expect this imbalance to continue indefinitely. Plan ways to assume extra domestic duties whenever you have the time and energy. No matter how exhausted you feel, you can probably find ways to contribute here and there. Whether it's unloading the dishwasher, walking the dog or moving clothes from the washer to the dryer, there are always ways to help shoulder household responsibilities. Even small gestures can have a positive impact by showing your partner you care enough to try.

Discuss fears and insecurities. Graduate and professional schools can leave partners feeling insecure about themselves. They may worry you will outgrow them, meet someone new or change the way you feel about the relationship. Try to be considerate of your partner's fears. Talk openly about each other's feelings and be as reassuring as you can. Clearly explain your reasons for pursuing this course and assert your commitment to your relationship.

Graduate school is a very rewarding experience that can contribute to your personal and professional development. It's also extremely challenging in a wide variety of ways. It's not easy for even the most organized people to juggle important relationships with busy academic schedules. With a little planning and lot of understanding, however, you can create a positive career path without sacrificing domestic and social bonds.

Foundations is here to help you and your partner manage major life changes and day-to-day relationship challenges. Contact our office for your free consultation!