7 Struggles Married Student Couples Have – and How to Beat Them
Did you marry your spouse while still in college?
Believe it or not, you are not alone!
So many couples now choose to postpone tying the knot until after they walk across the big stage – and that is completely understandable. Being a young, married couple while still in college has a ton of challenges. Trust me – I know, I am one of those couples! In fact, a ton of the Divas have husbands who are still in school!
So, we put our brains together and (armed with all of our knowledge from experience) decided to put together a must-read post to help all couples going through this challenging time. We’ll hit on the top 7 issues for married couples in college, and then give you our favorite tips and tricks on how you can beat ‘em!
1. Time. Yeah, you KNEW this would be the first one, didn’t you?! When discussing our top tips for couples in college, this was first and foremost on everyone’s mind. Time is always precious, but particularly when you are working your way through the college years as a married couple. Between heavy class loads, exams, jobs (sometimes full time!), and occasionally even children – things tend to be very hectic under those humble student roofs. Unfortunately, we can’t give you “the one-and-only ultimate solution” to fix this issue. You have to do what you have to do in this phase of life, and that is just the way it goes. But, there are a few ways you can manage your schedules more effectively so you can maximize quality time together.
- Find a scheduling system that works for you. My husband I love utilizing our Google Calendars through our G-Mail accounts and smartphones to keep our lives in sync. We “invite” each other to important events, like date nights, but also dates of final exams, family outings, and whatever else we may have going on in our lives. Bonus: it’s always right there in our pocket! If you kick it “old school” and love a paper planner, try these ones that I love from Peter Pauper Press. I have been using them for years! They are super simple, and have a TON of room on each day to make lots and lots of lists of whatever your heart desires! Diva Paige at our recent Diva Retreat also generously gave me a Passion Planner (she swears by hers) – I can’t wait to try it out for 2016!
- Weekly Planning Meetings. Pick a night that works to sync up and talk all about what you have going on this week. In my marriage, our night is Sunday night after the kids are asleep. We whip out our phones and planners, and make sure we know various deadlines, due dates, exam schedules, and anything else we have on our plates that week. We also take a minute to plan a date night while we are at it!
- Early to bed, early to rise. We both went through this phase of staying up aaaallll night to try and get everything done. It was miserable! We were burned out by 1:30 AM every night, and we found we weren’t as productive anyway. For us, we have found we are much happier when we go to bed earlier, and then wake up earlier. My husband and I were so amazed at how much more we got done at 5 AM after a good night’s rest than at 1 AM after a long day!
2. Money. An unsurprisingly close second? Finances. So, so difficult during this time! It can be difficult to manage the money when…well, there isn’t any to begin with! Prioritizing your wants vs. needs, practicing sound discipline with your finances and spending, as well as avoiding debt whenever possible are all keys to success. We have put together some great articles over the years that offer up some great tips to rein in those finances and get on the same page as a couple. Try giving these a read!
Worried about date night? Don’t be. Most of our date nights here at The Dating Divas are fabu-less-ly frugal. We even have an entire tab dedicated to inexpensive date nights! Here are some of our favorites:
Looking for some free babysitting for date night? Be sure to check out our Babysitter Co-Op Kit.
3. Social life differences. Well, this one came from my husband, actually – while asking for his input on this post, he said, “First of all, I feel pretty different from my unmarried friends. A lot of my friends at school aren’t married (let alone have kids), and sometimes they just don’t get why I don’t want to go to that party, drop $50 on a nice dinner out, or hit up that dance club on Friday night.” He added, “Sometimes there are even school activities that sound fun, but honestly, I’d rather be home with my wife and kids.”
When you are single and in college, your schedule is your own; you don’t have to coordinate with anybody but yourself. Footloose and fancy free, right?! But with marriage comes commitments…and a lot of them! (In the best way possible!)
- First, there is the obvious solution: Find some other married friends on campus! Believe it or not, you probably aren’t alone in this, so do some hunting. Have you looked for a Married Student Club yet? If you have and the search came up short, then go ahead and start your own! You will make lifelong friendships from it, I can tell you that much!
- But also remember this: that you can set an example. You can show what happiness in marriage looks like to your unmarried friends. Not everyone was raised with an example of a fantastic marriage from their parents. Show your friends the joy that is waiting for them! So put your marriage and relationship first. Your friends at school may tease you a bit, but they will ultimately respect you. YOU may be all that they have to show them what a happy marriage is all about, so don’t take the responsibility lightly. So, do as my husband does, shrug off the weirdness sometimes, and know that you are doing more good than you realize.
4. Knowing your limits. Maybe I should re-phrase: learn how to say “no.” (Tactfully and politely, of course!) Your time, talents, and schedules are worn thin as a student. If you don’t lighten your load every once in awhile, a few things typically happen, in this order (ahem…speaking from experience here):
- You manage to keep everything afloat, but just barely. Instead of things getting done well, they just “get done.”
- Things start falling through the cracks and not getting done at all.
- Your hectic schedule starts taking a toll on what is most important in life – your relationships.
We understand that it is so tempting to be the “do-it-all” couple. But you know what? As my husband and I have gotten older, we have (finally) started to realize how silly and strange it really is to be overly scheduled.
Let’s stop the glorification of being “busy.”
The wisest people I know are not the busiest. They are not the most rushed. They are not the “gotta-do-it-all” type of people. They are themselves. They are honest. They laugh at themselves. They take time to read. They take time to ponder. They take time for family. They know when to say “no.”
If you feel stretched too thin, don’t delay in making changes. It will be hard at first, believe me, but the reward will be well worth it. Decide your priorities, and center your life around them. When someone approaches you with another item to add to your list, analyze it carefully, weigh the pros and cons, and decide if you really and truly need it in your life. Don’t be afraid to say no, and in turn, stand for your relationships.
5. Taking the time to study your spouse. You may be engrossed in studies of your own, but you can’t afford to let this one slip by. We’ve seen it time and time again in young, newlywed couples; they just don’t “get” each other yet. Learning to understand when your spouse is feeling stressed, anxious, or upset is vital in a marriage all of the time, but also essentially important while in college. The stresses and pressure of the heavy workloads are all too real, and finding the time to know what works for your spouse (and what doesn’t) is hard. Sometimes they need some space to digest what’s happening. Sometimes they need a sweet pick-me-up. Sometimes they need a more physical type of love. Learning what they need, as well as when and how, is so vital to keeping your marriage alive. Don’t worry, it takes years of practice; but you can start observing and learning now. Here’s how:
- First of all, if you haven’t already, get your hands on The 5 Love Languages. We have recommended this book over and over again, and here’s why: because we all have different needs. Some people need gifts to feel love, some people need time. Some people need physical touch. Read through the book, do the quiz, and learn how your spouse needs to receive love.
- Once you know your spouse’s love language, check out this round up. It took the 5 Love Languages up a notch and provided 100 ways to show love to your spouse, divided up by love language “type.” (Time, words, service, touch, or gifts.)
- When the bad days come (and they will), have some ideas ready of what you can do to help; ideas that utilize their love language (not yours). We have hundreds and hundreds of fantastically creative ideas, so there is sure to be something that your spouse will love and help them through any rough time. You can also give the following a try:
- “Reasons I Love You” Posters
- Printable Snack Love Notes
- “Open When” Letters
- Lunch Bag Notes
- Spouse Sick Kit
- Punny Love Notes
- We have tons of other Love Note Printables, too! Great to stick in a backpack, lunch, or notebook!
- Intimacy Ideas:
- Sexy Playlist
- Spin the Bottle
- Bedroom Bucks
- Sexy Dice
- Fantasy Menu
- If you have an anniversary coming up or are looking for a fantastic gift for the both of you, we highly recommend the Game of Love. (My husband and I spent money on the game for our last anniversary instead of a dinner out, and it was SO much fun! Plus, you can use it over and over again!)
- Pay close attention regarding how they act and what they need when a crisis is going on. Chances are, your spouse reacts differently than you do to a problematic situation. If they need to go step outside, let them do it. If they need to talk right-then-and-there to you, do it. Remember this for the next “crisis moment,” and help them through it all over again.
6. Making your marriage a priority. As a student, it’s easy to let everything fall through the cracks. Once you’ve implemented #4 and simplified your schedule, you can move onto making your marriage more of a priority with the time that you’ve freed up. But what about exams? Homework? Your job? Your lengthy list of to-dos?
We know. It’s overwhelming. But your one-and-only is your spouse – NOT your roommate.
Let me tell you from experience – continually bumping your marriage down on the priority list is not worth it. Actually, my husband and I very recently experienced this problem. We were too busy. We sat down together, we prayed, and we poured our hearts out to one another about how we really and truly felt about our crazy schedules.
I’m going to share a Diva Truth that may shock you a little (but maybe will give you some hope as well): we were at a point when there wasn’t enough time for our marriage.
It was heart-breaking, but true. While still very much in love, we just hadn’t been able to take the time for one another like we used to. Thankfully, we caught it early, and jumped into action. We implemented #4, and analyzed our workloads individually, then together as a couple. Afterward? Out came the red pen, and we started to cross things off the list. We had to say goodbye to several things we loved to do. We sacrificed. A lot. But the result? A better marriage. There is nothing that can even come close to the peace, happiness, and joy that a solid, sturdy marriage brings, and I can tell you that with everything I have. We are still adjusting a few things. It’s a work in progress. Already though, the difference has been astounding.
The game-changing moment for us was when we came across a quote from Julie B. Beck. Originally, she was speaking solely to mothers in regards to spending time with their children, so my husband and I made a few slight changes to the quote so it applied directly to our situation:
- Plan a regular date night. It’s repeated over-and-over-and-over again…we get that. But. It’s. Key. It really is. I’ve seen it for myself, along with every other Dating Diva. Plan it, and then make it happen. You don’t want to “burn out,” so just keep them simple, thoughtful, and consistent. We have NO shortage of date nights around here, so check out our full list to get some ideas flowing. Don’t even know where to start? Check out our flow chart.
- Always have a marriage or relationship book on the go. (Here are some of our favorites.) Take the time to learn what a healthy relationship looks like. I know, I know, when you are in school, it’s so hard to justify reading anything else besides your textbooks, but doing so will truly help you better your marriage. It will show you things that perhaps you haven’t learned or realized yet. It will help you see where your relationship fits in The Big Picture. It will help you see the potential that you have within marriage. Just read one chapter – or one page – or one paragraph – together every night before you go to sleep. You can’t put a price on the quality of your relationship.
- Set goals together. Whether they be about finances, grades, or fitness, get in the habit now of setting achievable goals together. Not only will you hold each other accountable, but you will also be able to push each other to stay motivated. You are destined for great things, so write down your dreams, set a plan, and make it happen.
7. “Someday, after I graduate…” Enjoy the journey. My husband and I were guilty of this for the first couple of years into his education; I’ll readily admit it. I still catch us uttering phrases occasionally like, “Well, when we graduate, we will finally be able to afford ________.” Or, “When I’m done school and only working full-time, then I’ll finally have time to ________.” We realized that envisioning post-graduation life as perfection was setting us up for disappointment. Not because we don’t have any hope for the future (because we do), but because we know that life always presents challenges. No. Matter. What. As humans in today’s era, we get into this groove of, “Well, when I finally get ______, then I will be happy.” How silly is that and yet, we all do it! There will always be heartaches. There will always be joy. That is life. There are ups and downs, and a big part of enjoying life is learning how to glide through those rough parts with a smile. How to enjoy the right-here-right-now, always.
“You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays.” – The Music Man
So find joy in the every day. You can find it in the bottom of your bowl of ramen. You can find it in a car older than you are. You can find it while gluing your shoe together again for the 4th time. You can find it in little fingerprints on the window panes. Someday, you will look back, and remember all of the good times that you are experiencing right here, right now.
“I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.” – Thomas S. Monson, “Finding Joy in the Journey”
Right now, you are building a foundation. Not only will your education serve you throughout your life, taking care of your marriage right now will, too. So get into some good habits, despite all of the mayhem. Put a smile on, and enjoy every crazy, hectic day.
A great resource for all things “making your marriage a priority” is our Reclaim Your Marriage Program! From Finances to Goals to Communication to Intimacy and more … we have you covered!
If you loved this article, be sure to check out The Best Marriage Tip, 16 Ways to Protect Your Marriage from Infidelity, or How Pornography Affects Your Marriage.
Great article Catherine! We are living the student life and it is tough on a marriage! These are some great tips!
Great tips Cat! Never thought of being an example to unmarried singles- that was so well put!
“You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays.” LOVE THIS!