Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The myth about marriage and law school

We did it!! Er, I mean J did it. He took his last final two days ago, which means law school is officially dunzo!

Through the last three years of dirty dishes, general clutter, the legal internships and the give-me-attention appeals, we made it. And I have to say that for everything I read online and everything that was told me about How Hard Law School Was Going To Be as the spouse not attending, I can let you all in on a little secret: Everything "they" say is nonsense. If you're married to a law student or an MBA student or anyone pursuing a graduate degree you will be fine. "They" will try to scare you at the beginning, and tell you that divorce rates are exponentially higher for law students, that you'll never see your husband/wife once the law books get cracked, that there will be a higher chance of infidelity (yes, I actually heard this) because of all those late study nights spent at the library or in study groups. Don't believe it. If your significant other was going to cheat, they wouldn't need a library or law school to do it in. As for never seeing your better half, that's a bit of an exaggeration. You will see them...maybe not as much as you'd like, but it's only three years.

Looking back on the last three years, they surprisingly weren't as hard as I anticipated them to be. Before we started this whole law school thing I was a little worried. Not because I didn't believe in us, but more because of all the myths I foolishly began listening to prior to his first semester back in 2007. Suddenly everyone was an expert, espousing wisdom about what life was going to be like for us once he started. I'm here to report that none of it is true. The best thing you can do if you're married to a law/medical/mba/etc. student is to block out all that outside noise.

It is true that certain chores like washing dishes or grocery shopping aren't always so 50/50 when married to a grad student. Unfortunately I'm terrible with chores so most of the time our kitchen sink always had dishes piled in it, and even when I had time to wash them all I still refused since the way I saw it I'd only made half of them dirty, so why did he earn a "get out of jail free" card just because he was a student? Yes, this was my rational. Back when I was a grad student my roommate washed all my dishes I washed my dishes, so what made him any different?

My mantra: "I didn't marry you to be your maid. Either help me or get used to the mess." This was repeated frequently and when he'd eventually finish studying we'd take turns washing the dishes (and came to the conclusion after about semester 3 of this that once he got a well-paying job we were definitely getting a part-time housekeeper).

That's not to say I didn't take into consideration Special Circumstances like an especially debilitating few weeks of finals, crunch time when J had dozens of articles to approve and edit for the Law Journal, or when he'd miss dinner multiple times in a row because he had to stay late drafting some motion for a judge. In special circumstances like these I wouldn't bother him about picking his clothes up off the floor or leaving dirty dishes in the sink. Why? Because I have the exact same habits so really, who am I to judge (oops, did I just admit that out loud?), but also it was just easier picking up some of his slack on my end since he was working his tushie off for the good of our future.

It took me 1.3 semesters to see that J was a special breed of law student: the I-came-here-because-I'm-enamored-with-law-so-I'm-going-to-take-advantage-of-every-opportunity sort of law student. These are the best and worst kind. Best because who doesn't get a little randy at the thought of such ambition and passion for a particular subject? But worst because when your ambitious tigerlily is out interning for judges and on mastheads of law journals and flying across the country to compete in mock trial competitions and sitting in on Supreme Court hearings in his free time just because "it's fun"... life as the law school wife can get a little, well, lonely. Especially the first year of law school, which also happened to be the first year of our marriage (we were literally married two months before he started classes). But that's why I had Lola, good friends, kickboxing, and the neverending task of writing that kept me up many nights long after he'd finished studying and gone to bed -- when he saw I couldn't spend time with him. And even with his schedule, I had to hand it to J. He still found time to spend quality time with me, no matter how full his plate was, and for that I thank him. It was a dance he perfected well over the last three years.

"But what about after school is over," some have asked. "He's going to be so busy in his Real-Life Firm Job. Won't that bother you?" Not at all. I figure if J and I could handle the long periods of time each semester when he'd be gone for 12 hours a day, then his "real-life" career is going to be a walk in the park. Why? Because I recognize he is helping to set the foundation of our family's future and, well, nothing can compete with the stress of a full course-load, internships and extracurricular activities every semester. Nope, not even a Big Law litigation career.

I feel like law school has broken me in and our relationship is bullet proof now. If I -- I mean "we" -- can survive this, then we can survive anything.

Congratulations to my Hoya Lawyah!!!

Commencement is on Sunday; we head out west two days later. Lots more pictures to come.

18 comments:

Kari said...

I love your take on things. Your posts always make me laugh. As the girlfriend of six years to a future law student, I appreciated this post. Starting this fall, my boyfriend will be going to law school part time while working full time at a law firm. I'm planning to get my MBA part time while working starting next year. I've heard all the warnings and horror stories too, but we pretty much have the same outlook you do that if we make it through this, we're set. Thanks again.

The Hot Heads Groupie said...

What a great accomplishment! Congrats to you both!

Mandy's Life After 30 said...

You always have the right attitude Crystal! You and J both are a curve ahead of the rest! And you're right -- for two people who truly love each other and get each other, cheating is not even a word in their vocabulary nor should it ever be a concern!

CONGRATS to you both for this great, great honor! Only the best is to come~! Enjoy this moment. You should both be so very proud!

P.s. -- I'm going to send this post to my friend who's husband is entering law school in the fall to help keep her spirits up!

Diana by Design said...

Those are seriously myths!? I have never heard them. Granted, I've never looked into anything that would tell me those myths. I always just assumed in any good relationship one would pick up the slack, like you said. How strange. I guess it shows you how selfish some people can be?

I love reading about people with enough love to know they can make it work, though. :) It makes me smile to know that that kind of love is still out there in the world. It's overshadowed by too much divorce and break ups and it can really put a haze on the future.

Congratulations to you & your wonderful husband! :)

Linda said...

Thats a hard task! Congrats to you and your husband for keeping it loving. Soon enough, money won't be (too much of) a problem anymore. Congrats!

Tami said...

so proud of you both for making it! here's to more success and lasting love!! xo

No One Reads The Copy said...

Congrats on making it through - to the both of you!!

colfin said...

Great attitude Crystal! LOVE THIS POST!!!! HUGS! :)

PS: And congrats to J!

Valerie said...

YAY, Congratulations to both of you! My husband did an 8 year residency after med school and is now in his second year of a fellowship. He gets one weekend off a month and besides that I rarely see him. But we're still plugging along, so it's definitely possible if you have a strong relationship. It must be a relief that he's finally done!

xo
Valerie

Serendipity said...

I really dug this post. Quite too often, we worry about how things should be rather than how they could be. I think it's, I don't want to say amazing, but cool how you kept your sense of self and sense of independence after you were married and even though you guys were doing your own thing you remained a team.
Congrats on J being done with law school!

Andrea said...

Congratulations!

Amber said...

Congrats to J (and you!)! I am so happy for the both of you that you are moving on to the next phase of your lives! How exciting!

dors said...

i think it's wonderful when people are so passionate about their career, so i wish him - and you - the best of luck! i think that marriage, independently of profession, is always that mad, sometimes passionate, sometimes boring, but messy, clumsy, divine, needy, aloof, wonderful, dull and exciting thing two people will have. mmmm...maybe i should stop drinking wine. anyways...congratulations!

lawschoolwife said...

I LOVE this! I have heard all of it. The cheating, the divorce/break up rate (ALL anecdotal!), what have you. It's just so...SHOCKING to enter into this strange new world where people can walk up to strangers and tell them they'll probably get divorced simply because one spouse is in law school.

Granted I'm only one year in, but I feel like I can confidently say that the couples who break up during law school were doomed anyway, law school (really just stress), sped the process up and saved them some time.

I am so glad you guys worked out. There needs to be SO many more of these stories. Thank you for the encouragement and the HONEST TRUTH. It's doable. You're proof.

And it's not nearly as bad as they say!

Gooberpea said...

This post is awesome. I was fortunate that no one ever told me it was going to be hard.. so i didnt go into it with that scared attitude. So glad to find someone in the same spot as me!!!!!!
Congrats again.

marriedtolaw said...

It's so refreshing to read about someone who made it through law school and survived as a married woman! Congrats on three long, hard years! Please come share your thoughts with others on a site I made specifically for law school/lawyer spouses - http://www.marriedtolaw.com. I would also love to have your input for a book I am planning to write about the experience (see "The Project" on my site). So glad to see that it's possible to be happy at the end of this experience. My hubby and I have 2 more years to go...

TWhite said...

I'm coming a little late to the party, but wanted to thank you for your post. I'm a new 1L...and a newlywed as well. I have been disheartened by the amount of negativity I've encountered (mostly from those who have no direct experience with combining marriage and law school). My husband is now in his 3rd week of law school, and we're doing great. I probably see him more now then prior to law school, because he and I have been going out of our way to make time for each other. I'm sure it will get progressively more difficult as the year progresses, however, it's nice to hear that you two survived 3 years, and lived to tell your story. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you for writing this! I know this is from over a year ago but my fiancé just started law school and is in the middle of finals this week. I work at a law firm and several people there tried to give me warning about divorce rates, break ups, etc. So when things got a bit stressed this evening I hit up google and found this article and it made me feel so much better. It's definitely been tough, but I am in graduate school too so I feel like we are both going through this together- and there is a bit of added stress from our upcoming wedding in June. It is definitely a lot, but I'm so proud of him and its great to hear what deep down I already know-- that all these myths are are ridiculous. We are lucky to have these opportunities and each other.

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