Yep, that statement smacked me right in the gut the first time I heard it. And guess what? It changed my marriage.
When I met my now husband, I was still in undergrad which means I had ample free time to study and/or complete homework while he worked his full-time job. I had no house to tend to, no laundry to get done, no dinner to cook, and no dates to attend unless they fit into both of our schedules.
However, when you get married things change. I went from having virtually no responsibilities to tending to a whole house and coming home to a husband who wanted my time and affection at the end of the work day.
All of a sudden, life had some unexpected structure to it.
Now, I am an incredibly driven person. So much so that when I started the Occupational Therapy Assistant program, I set really high standards for myself. I never wanted to make anything below a 95% as far as tests and assignments were concerned because this was my passion and I knew I was entirely capable of a 4.0…if I just gave it my all.
Well, unbeknownst to me “giving my all” meant going straight from school to the library until 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. as well as all day Saturday and Sunday. If I had any free time what-so-ever, I spent it studying.
I was ecstatic that my grades reflected my efforts. Unfortunately, so was my marriage.
My husband is an incredibly patient and encouraging person. He never made me feel like I was neglecting him in any way but I felt it. I could not manage to pull myself away from my studies, even just for an afternoon of fishing. Laundry was piling up, supper revolved more and more around take-out, and you could forget dressing up for an actual date. I was letting the “wife-life” model I had so desperately wanted slip away right before my eyes. Nothing was going to plan and I was letting myself down really quick.
So, it was late one evening at the library (go figure) when a fellow wife and I were talking. I was asking about her experience as a married couple– when one spouse was in the program and the other was working, to which she said, “I just finally had to realize that making a 100% is not worth ignoring my husband over.”
I was shocked at how right she was.
After that semester, I changed my ways. I swore to myself and to my husband that in the coming semesters, I would do my best to manage my time better.
And I did just that. My spring semester was filled with many afternoons fishing, walking our fur-family, and quality time. And guess what? My GPA stayed the same but my mental health flourished! I had to learn that grades weren’t everything. After all, I would be in school for roughly 9 more months but I hope to build my marriage for the next 90 years.
Side note: My saving grace for staying organized was planner, this one. (to be exact)
I’ve also never been so thankful for a husband who has remained right alongside me throughout this journey. I have seen girls in marriages where there spouse becomes angry when they try to better themselves or when work seems to be more important than them (even though it is not).
If you are engaged or have been married for a while, I really want to stress the importance of the fact that it is possible to chase your dreams and be happily married. In my personal experience, chasing your dreams and success as far as your spouse is concerned boils down to whether you want what is best for each other or yourself. If you are wanting what is best for yourself, your marriage will fall to shambles.
Whatever you do in a marriage, you do together with your spouse as you are one. Individuality is key and each person has special aspects to bring to the table but as far as the big life changing behaviors and decisions, those are made in unison.
- If you are in school, earning your degree then it is a joint effort.
- If you are with child, both of you are with child.
- If you win the lottery, both of you are now rich.
- If you achieve great success, then as a couple you are successful.
With that in mind: If your spouse is not cheering you on and encouraging your success equally as much as you are, then what are you doing? Re-evaluate your situation immediately!
I really hope to encourage you, whoever is reading this, that marriage is not a prison sentence. It is actually a really beautiful experience. You are no longer alone on whatever endeavor you choose.
So, with alllll of this said:
- put down the study guides
- turn off your phone
- focus on your spouse if your marriage is calling for quality time.
With love, Elizabeth