In the wake of yesterday’s post How to Juggle a Family and Law School (or a Law Firm), someone asked me on Twitter:
re: juggling law school/family. Any suggestions for the spouses of law students?
To which I replied, I wasn’t sure but I would ask my wife when I got home and report back.
So I went home and asked my wife: If someone came up to you and told you that they had a spouse who was about to go to law school and they wanted some advice or idea of what to expect, what would you tell them?
Wife: “It sucked.”
Not really what I was looking for. But I got her to elaborate.
“It was hard – a tough thing to go through. I read the post yesterday and I thought the best bit of advice was on managing expectations. That can’t be emphasized enough. You have to communicate to your spouse what law school does to your free time.
It’s important to know yourself. When I had free time and high expectations about spending time with you – that led to problems when you weren’t around as much.
You just have to keep reminding yourself that the whole situation is temporary, even though it seems like forever while you’re in it. I know it felt like forever. But now that we’re done and out the other side, it seems like it went by so fast.”
So I had less free time but you had more? What did that mean for you?
“If you enjoy your job – work more. I enjoy my job (note: she’s a pediatric nurse on a med/surg unit at our local Children’s Hospital) so that wasn’t a problem. If for some reason money isn’t an issue, get a hobby I guess.”
But that all ended once we got pregnant right?
“Yes. That was hard. No joke. The pregnancy was tough and then being at home by myself was hard too. It tied into the expectations thing as well. I had new expectations of you as a father. I wanted you to change diapers, feed him bottles, eat dinner with us, whatever. But you couldn’t be there. It sucked. I said that already didn’t I? Ha ha ha.”
Yes. But what about now on the other side of it all?
“It strengthened our relationship. You just can’t let it drag you down. You’ve got to remember that it will pass eventually and push through it. Going through a difficult time in your life surrounded by challenges…to look back and say you survived is a proud, defining moment.
It also made me feel good to know that you were doing something you were passionate about. Your professional life is a very large, defining part of who you are. Knowing that you were happy and moving towards that goal was gratifying and made me feel good about the process. You’ve just got to keep the big picture in mind I guess.”
There you have it. Advice for spouses from one who went through the ringer herself. I know it doesn’t exactly paint a pretty picture, but it’s the truth. Keep it in mind when you’re helping your spouse understand your new schedule.