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Questions About Relationships & Grad School

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by Ollie123, Dec 16, 2008.

  1. Ollie123

    10+ Year Member

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    Just celebrated my 4-year anniversary with my girlfriend(dating, not marriage).

    I think it can work if you are really right for eachother. That doesn't mean it will be easy, and you see many people break up in grad school. Although often times people "blame" grad school (or med school, law school, etc.) my personal belief is that these relationships probably wouldn't have lasted anyways.

    The best trick I've learned so far is maintaining independence. Grad school can be stressful at times and if you "dump" stress on eachother, that's going to be a huge problem. If you rely too much on them for the things you don't feel like you have time for (housekeeping, cooking, etc.), they will end up resenting you. If you are chronically stressed, you might be resentful of them if they are stressed and try to talk to you. If they rely too much on you for doing "fun" things (i.e. won't go anywhere unless you go too, no friends outside of the relationship), they will end up resenting you for being unavailable. This will add to your stress and you'll get resentful of them for not being understanding.

    Obviously one of the great things about relationships is having someone who is supportive. However I think some people push it too far and forget that a healthy relationship is two functional people who become better when together, not two people who need eachother to be functional. I actually think its true of many relationships in general and a recipe for future unhappiness, but grad school seems to highlight this in many cases.

    Don't know if that helps or not. Its not easy but I think its doable.
     
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  3. saribou13

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    This is sound advice. I do worry about the fact that we may rely too much on each other, but also I do think that our close bond is what keeps us going strong (we've been together 3 yrs 5 months, so similar time as you and your gf). Already, he does a majority of our cooking, cleaning, shopping, pet care, a) because I've been so crazy this year w/ work/school/apps, and b) because he's just more domestic than I am! :) I was chronically stressed out this year, with all that, but I now realize this about myself so I'm trying to make a conscious effort to find things to appreciate about every day this coming year.

    My biggest worry is mainly if we have to move. 4 of my schools are in Chicago (where I am now), 2 are in Boston, and 2 are in NYC. I worry that if we move, he'll have trouble finding work and settling in, making new connections. That is hard enough anyway, but to be uprooted, is even harder. Plus with the economy what it is right now.... Well, I'm just hoping not to move!
     
  4. saribou13

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    MOD NOTE: Split out from another thread.....-t4c

    My other main concern would be my relationship with my boyfriend (soon to be fiance). I definitely think it's important to maintain a work-life balance, and I wonder how feasible that is in a PhD program. I am determine to make it work, at all costs, but I'm interested to hear feedback from those who have gone through (or are going through) a doctoral program while in a serious, committed relationship??
     
    #3 saribou13, Dec 16, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2008
  5. psybee

    psybee Psychology Grad Student!
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    it's tough but i think doable if you are really good together. i have two grood freinds who ended up getting divorced while they were in school, but there were problems, real significant ones already, like ollie said.

    i';ve been w/ my sweetie for over 5 years, married for 2 months. thankfully we are both independent people and he loves reading, videogames, is in grad school partime too, so it's not like he's bored while i'm working, but it is tough. i'm always working, because of the nature of the program but there's also the fact that i want to do psych work. so even over break i've decided to not ask to edit a paper my mentor is working on and wait til next semester, and not bring work work (ie, articles, externship stuff) back home for the holidays, because it's so easy for work to bleed in to everything, even downtime, and i think it's important to show that while sometimes you HAVE to work, they are a priority too. do whatever sweet and meaningful things you can, compliment and thank them and let them know how much you appreciate thier support, force yourself to take breaks, even if it's just for 15 minutes, to chat and make keeping connected a priority. i get so pressured because i keep thinking "this is my career!' but then i realize what good is that if i isolate myself from my hubby and loved ones and grow to hate my career in ten years because i'm lonely. i haven't figured it out yet but i'm trying.
     
  6. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist
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    if you can get through it, then you probably have a pretty solid chance.


    if he/she can put up with your long hours, high stress, limited money, probable having to move again in 4 years (especially in chicago), etc, then ok.

    that stuff generally continues into post doc and beyond.

    i would also ask what the other person thinks he/she is getting out of it and what they are getting into. asking him/her could help you get a good idea about his/her expectations. and if these expectations are feasible.

    one of my friends' fiance dropped the "it's gonna be great when you are licensed, so you'll make a lot more money". she laughed and laughed and then showed him the statistics for psychologists salary.

    i can also tell you that many relationships i observed in grad school became extremely strained if not ended due to school related stuff.

    good luck
     
  7. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty
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    I don't want to be the downer....but there is a lot of stress in grad school, so it is important to talk to your partner about the demands, expectations, and whatnot associated with school. Many people think, "Oh....class 3 days a week, some time in the library, etc"....and it is so much more. Best of luck.
     
  8. Orchid

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    Hi Saribou13,
    I think (I actually know) it is very doable. I'm not saying it's easy, but you won't be the first one to do it. I think it depends greatly on the quality of your relationship as it is now. If you are supportive of each other, Grad School won't make it any different. It will, though, provide many opportunities to show that support.
    I think that having someone close to you during grad school will be very helpful. It's great to have someone to talk to when things are getting too stressful or when you want to share your success with another.
    However, relationships are supposed to be mutual, so despite all your work you'll also have to be available for your boyfriend/fiance. Which shouldn't be a problem, in my opinion. School takes a lot of time, but it's not 24/7. There's (or should be) life beyong grad school. Especially if work and life balance is something that is important to you.
    Bottome line (it's my own opinion, you may disagree): don't look at your relationship as a task or a challange. See it for what it is - a source of love, support and happiness.
     
  9. psychmama

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    I wanted to add my agreement that it's quite possible to do grad school while in a committed relationship. Actually, I'm in 4 committed relationships - my husband and my three kids! I'm not going to lie and say it's been easy, because it's been a real challenge to attend to these people in my life while being a full-time doctoral student. My husband and I have had our share of disagreements and stressful moments, although many of these have been about meeting the demands of our children rather than about each other.
    But I also agree that having my family has been a source of support and comfort in so many ways. Life is bigger than psychology, after all!:love:
     
  10. Psyched77

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    1st year grad student here (full time clinical PhD program). My husband & I have 14+ years under our belts now, & we have 2 kids (13 & 11 years old). We moved nearly 1,400 miles from home for me to attend, so it's certainly doable. I think (like others have said) that a strong relationship is KEY. I also think that you have to share goals/priorities/etc.; if you do, then it won't be that difficult to have your significant other be supportive of your crazy schedule in grad school. My husband had to quit a job he LOVED & leave behind some important connections, hobbies, & family, but he manages, since (1) we're in this together, (2) we made the decisions together, & (3) we're mutually heading toward some common goals. (Making decisions together was HUGE for us. By including my husband in the decisions about when, where, & how to attend grad school, he didn't feel like I was dragging him along for the ride...kicking & screaming.) Just make sure to have good communication, & draw appropriate lines between your home life & school life. That doesn't mean you can't work from home, but make sure that when you've allotted "family" time, you give that time your undivided attention. Sure, finding a new job & creating a whole new life in a new place isn't the most peaceful thing, but it is what you make of it. ;) Good luck!
     
  11. erg923

    erg923 Regional Clinical Officer, Cenpatico National
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    I have found that already being married saves me alot of the stress of trying to balance a Ph.D program and bumbling through the clumsy world of men and women. :laugh: I have not found it to effect out relationship actually. She likes to organize all my binders and insists on doing all the ironing for us (because..aparrently..I suck at it). Im not a war horse or a total research hound, so we always have friday and Saturday nights to keep our marriage "active" so to speak.......:love:
     
  12. saribou13

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    hi everyone,

    first of all, i just wanted to thank everyone for the large amount of responses i've gotten to my original post. this is great. i really do agree with those who have said that it is what you make of it, and it really depends on the strength of your relationship. i like to think that our bond is quite strong, and seriously, if you're thinking about getting married anyway, i should certainly hope it would be. even without grad school, people grow and change during the course of a marriage, and there are bound to be times when one of you is busier than the other, or when you're growing and changing and experiencing stress. hopefully, we will both come out stronger on the other side.

    my boyfriend is very supportive of my ambitions. of course, at times he can be resentful of the time that it takes me away from him, but he knows that i am trying to find a career that makes me happy, which will be good for both of us in the long run. i am supportive of his career as a photographer, even though that is an extremely hard field to break into, and often means that we don't have very much money.

    also, i have to say that some people's outlooks are quite bleak. and while i know that as a psychologist doing private practice, i won't exactly be "rolling in it", but if you look at the stats, you can find that many psychologists, especially at the PhD level, do make a good amount of money. i don't make very much money currently, as i work in non-profit fundraising, so my idea of a "good amount" may be different than others.

    anyway, thanks again for all your advice, and to those of you who are in programs and in serious relationships, i wish you the best of luck!! :love:
     
    #11 saribou13, Dec 17, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2008

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