Be Upfront About the Demands of Law School
My husband was well aware that law school would take over 75% of my life. Before I even started applying to law schools, I was upfront with him about what I envisioned the demands on my time would be and what that would mean for our relationship. When law school started, it was not a surprise for him that I was studying all the time and that dinner was sometimes going to be pasta with sauce because I had no energy to cook anything else.
My husband has been my support system throughout this whole adventure so far, and I believe that if I had not been upfront with him about what my time demands were going to look like, we may have had some issues and arguments. By just being honest, I was able to avoid any short tempers, and just have a whole lot of support.
Talk About Law School (But Not Only About Law School)
Though your significant other probably does not want to know the full brief of each case you read, letting them in on what you are doing, reading and learning can help them to be more involved in your life. Pick out cases that you read that are interesting and that they might also find interesting.
This semester I am in Professor Logan’s Criminal Law class and he gives us news articles to read that relate to the casebook readings that we are assigned. The news articles are fairly current, so I make it a point to talk to my husband about them because he might find them interesting. And although I could talk about classes and law school forever, by doing so I wouldn’t be talking to him about his day or whatever happened in the real world while I was in class.
So I make it a point to only talk about law school at the dinner table while we are eating, and then once we are done, I try to talk about and focus on other things. My husband would be incredibly bored if I only talked about law school all the time, and that would not be great for our relationship.
Make Time for Each Other
Law school could consume your entire life if you let it. You could always be outlining, reading ahead, or studying for something. But if you do that, your relationship could suffer. I make it a point to get to the law school early in the morning, and when my last class is done for the day, so am I.
I leave my evenings free to spend time with my husband when he gets home because otherwise, it would be like living with a roommate. I also spend all day Sunday with him and use that as my recharging day for the upcoming week. Without that time, we would feel distant from each other and I would feel lost in the abyss of reading.
He anchors me to reality; blocking off my time that way gives me the chance to snuggle with our dog, and cook, both of which I love to do. Even if we just sit on the couch and watch Netflix, it is still pulling me away from school and focusing me back on what is really important in life.
Learn to Say No
On the flip side of my previous point, significant others have a hard time understanding just how big the time commitment of law school is. Likewise, sometimes friends have a hard time understanding that you just want to spend time on the couch with your husband instead of going to another event. You are the person that knows yourself best, and you have to set your boundaries.
My husband will sometimes try to encourage me to just relax a little bit longer, or watch a few more episodes, but I have to say no and go back to my studying. My friends will always try to get me to attend events with them, but for me, if I have already gone to three events that month, that might be all I have time for and I have to say no.
Learn how to set your boundaries early and stick to them. Once your significant other and your friends know you are serious about your boundaries, they will respect them.
Learn to Multitask
Multitasking is a skill that will save your life in law school. I have figured out how to prop a casebook up to read while I cook dinner, or listen to class recordings on the way to school. I also learned how to tune out football games and focus on my reading, so I can sit with my husband and still get my work done on Saturday’s in the Fall.
We love to take our dog to a local park in the evenings if we have time and weather permits. Not only do I get some exercise in for the day, but I also get to hang out with my husband and my dog.
When time is limited, it is best to pick activities that kill two birds with one stone. It will become easier to identify what you can do while multi-tasking and what you cannot do. For example, I cannot write briefs while doing anything else, but I absolutely can read for class with something else going on in the background.
Law school is all-consuming and you have to make a conscious effort to keep your relationship strong. However, it is worth it to know that I always have support and love waiting for me on the other side of my apartment door. Law school is just a phase in your life while, in my case, marriage is forever. With a little bit of work and a lot of help, you can make it to the other side of law school with your relationship intact and maybe even better than ever.