I give props to people dating or married to someone getting a professional degree. I also give props to people who get pregnant during their professional studies, especially in their last year of law school (I’m not even sure that’s possible during residency), but that’s a whole other story. Dating or being married to someone while they’re getting their professional degree—whether it’s a law degree or going through medical school and residency—is not easy at all. It requires a high degree of patience and understanding that you can’t understand, unless you’ve been through it.
I’ve seen couples go through hell trying to adjust and deal with this, and in one situation, a married friend of mine essentially sacrificed his grades to save his marriage and be a better husband and father. It’s not fair to either party, but it is what it is, and I think it’s important to understand what little you may understand when your boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse decides to take on a professional degree.
The fact is, the person getting the professional degree needs to be selfish. If you’re going to make the most out of your education at this level, you really have to. Undergrad is a cakewalk compared to this. In fact, I remember getting plenty of sleep during undergrad; whereas now, sometimes I find myself staring at my own handwriting in the margins of my casebooks, not having a clue as to what I read let alone remember reading it at all. I hate when I have to choose between family time and going to church, because I can’t do both if I’m going to get everything done—or worse when I have to sacrifice both. Unfortunately, birthdays must be missed, and my study materials must accompany any holidays spent together. I know a few people who have completely skipped Thanksgiving because it’s so close to finals. Basically, when holidays do roll around, we’re not excited about a day or two of R&R, we’re excited about an extra day or two to get in more practice exams and studying.
Personally, I do my best not to completely lose touch with the rest of my life. It’s important to me to keep my sanity and be happy, and it’s more important to me that my loved ones know how much I love and value them. Still, some people have trouble comprehending what is demanded of me in order to graduate and pass the bar. And I can’t and I don’t expect them to. I imagine it's not easy understanding how you can live in the same house as someone and hardly see them, even when they are home. Putting up with someone who is getting a professional degree means sometimes putting up with being ignored, or not being given the attention you’re used to. It’s unfortunate and not always fair, but I also think it’s unfair to ask someone to sacrifice their best efforts, when their best efforts mean even greater things in the future for everyone that matters.
So as I was saying, I’m really impressed with those who put up with the likes of us getting law degrees, or medical degrees and doing residency. I mean, if you can exercise that much patience, you’re a hero in my book. And if you can be so understanding as to understand something you can’t fully understand, you’re simply an angel!
Just remember, it’s getting through the hard times that counts. It’s a sign of true character and strength. And the hard times won’t last forever if you don’t let them ;).
This Thanksgiving, I’m ever grateful for everyone who has supported me through the last two and a half years, on multiple levels—we’re almost to the finish line!
BIG LOVE & HUGS