After speaking to numerous married couples in the college of healthcare professions; here are a few words of advice to keep the romance alive while enrolled in the PA program.
- Make time for each other – A designated date night is important even if you’re not in school. Whether it’s once a week or month, depending on your circumstances, have a day designated for just the two of you. Remember that you were a couple long before the children or PA school, so keep being a couple. Family dinners are just as important. No television, tech gadgets or books. Just the family at the table every night (if possible) for about an hour. Talk about your day, the weather, or whatever is on your mind. (We have family breakfast every morning instead, mainly because the time that I get home can vary)
- Think like a proton: Always positive – Don’t bring school home with you. There will be days that you need to vent but don’t make it a daily habit. Leave the negative talk about your long, drama-filled day at school where it belongs. Come home and unplug. Enjoy the time with your family and decompress before jumping back into study mode.
- Reality Check – you can be annoying! Stop trying to diagnose everybody.
- You smell like anatomy – Please take a long shower and leave your laundry in a hamper that is far from smelling distance.
- They are exhausted too – Don’t let them be the only adult in the house. You may not be able to pitch in as often, but you can make an effort. Wash the dishes, do the laundry, balance the checkbook, order/cook dinner, take the dog out for a walk, pick up the kids from practice, etc. You’re in school, not dead. Be a shoulder to cry on as well. They have rough days and need to vent, so listen.
- Meet other couples (This is more for the students who are not from the area) – Your spouse could be dying of boredom, find something to do with other adult couples. Granted this will not happen often but once in a while won’t hurt. Encourage them to find new hobbies and make new friends. This will give you time to study while they are out doing their own thing.
- Have Sex! – You are mentally, physically and emotionally drained but intimacy is so important in any relationship … and a great stress reliever. If you’re not in the mood, then dead fish it if you have to [dead fish – just lay there]. FYI: morning sex is a great way to start your day
- Meet them halfway – Things aren’t getting done the way you want them to be done, but understand your spouse is doing their best. The way your significant other cleans or cooks may not be to your standards, but it is getting done. The kids ate PB&J for dinner instead of a nutritious, organic home-cooked meal. Big deal! Life goes on. They ate and that’s what matters.
- Treat Yourselves – Plan big events (this includes travel plans) around school breaks so you have something to look forward too. You can afford this by going on a financial diet all semester then splurge when the break comes around.
- Be Romantic – Channel your inner “Jack Pearson” and get creative here … on a budget of course. Put love notes in their lunchbox or sticky notes with romantic messages throughout your home. It only takes a few minutes of your time and shows your appreciation.
- Be Transparent and include them – Post exam/school schedule where your significant other can see. That way, they know when a hectic week is coming up. Study with them when you’re walking the dogs or hanging out on the couch. Explain a disease in lay terms to see if they understand. It’s great practice for when you’re treating real patients and can offer a different perspective. Involve them in as many school activities as possible. Talk about the future on a continuous basis so that you both remember why you all are there in the first place.
- Still be aware– your spouse may try to act like everything is okay to avoid adding to your stress. It’s your job to pay attention and know when something is wrong. Be there for them.
The goal is to graduate and become a PA-C with your marriage/family intact. Even though the world seems to come to a standstill while enrolled in PA School, you are still a wife/husband, so feed your marriages.
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