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Any married grad students here?

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I've recently gotten engaged to my boyfriend of many years, and I have to admit I am a little nervous about people at grad school perceiving me differently because of my decision to get married at a relatively early age. The thing is we are a perfect team, we have supported each other during really tough times (and I am sure will continue to do so), and getting married just makes so much sense logistically as we are moving to another country together. I have no doubt in my mind about the marriage itself, but I am also clueless as to how it might affect my grad life.

So, any (fellow) married grad students here? Have you had any issues, and if so, how did you deal with them? Or were there any surprising benefits? Any advice in general?

Thanks!

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My wife and I got married the summer before I started my MA program. It's really nice to have someone with an actual salary to help you get through grad school!

I'm not sure if we've really had issues relating to me being in a doctoral program. It did take her a while to realized that, although I'm physically home a lot of the time, she needs to treat me as if I weren't. She still forgets this from time to time. But this is just a question of robust communication, which is the key to any relationship in or outside of graduate school.

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My wife and I had been married a couple of years when we started grad school. We were definitely the minority, and there were some weird reactions at first, but people got over it pretty quickly. 

There are definitely stresses to grad school, but I'm not sure they're so much more intense than some high-stress jobs. 

Personally, I found having someone that I knew I could count on to be a support was immensely helpful, and it also reminded me that there were things outside of school that were important, and helped me ensure I took time to keep my life balanced as much as possible. 

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I got married a year into my master's!  I was 23 and my spouse was 27.  Honestly it doesn't feel weird at all.  In my experience, people around you will be very excited for you and not treat you any differently. 

I would say that a good pre-marriage step is moving in together (if you haven't already).  I really strongly feel that you need to live together before you get married.  It really forces you to get to know each other in ways that you weren't expecting, and exposes any potential flaws in the relationship.  Especially when you're in grad school (and potentially going to be there for a while), it's good to figure out how the home dynamic will work in terms of how your work load affects your ability to hang out with your spouse or contribute to housework and stuff like that.

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We got engaged the first month of my Masters (we had been together 5 years), married in the first summer of my Masters. Starting my PhD, we were the only married couple in my cohort---not surprising since we also moved from Canada to the US where it's the norm to enter a PhD right after undergrad. Since I took 5 years to do my undergrad (co-op work option), we were 3 years older than our cohort. However, within a year or two, a few other classmates also got married (mostly people with serious relationships prior to grad school as well). 

There were plenty of older married grad students though. I think at one point, I counted about 30%-40% of grad students either married, engaged or in a similarly serious/long term relationship. 

Meeting with these married students while I was visiting the program was what sealed the deal for us. The department we joined was very family friendly and basically every (non-academic) event was open to partners and spouses as well. This was also generally true of the entire campus. Talking to these married students on the visits gave us a good sense of how we can balance work and life etc.

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Not married yet but I have been with my boyfriend through most of undergrad and we moved in together when we started out master's at the same school (so at this point we have been together almost 6 years). I am so glad we were together during our master's because at different points we definitely needed one another to keep the other person going and on track. We are in different departments at our school and whenever we attend something in our own department the other has always been very welcome. We have always presented ourselves as a team and have always been treated as such. I don't think anyone has viewed/treated us any differently because we aren't single and I think that holds true at a lot of places as evidenced by all of the above responses.

I actually do have a question to pose in this thread if it's okay because I think it might be the place some people might have some suggestions. So my boyfriend and I are not officially engaged but we are basically committed to being married someday so we do on occasion refer to each other as our fiance. I don't really like doing this too much because I find it a bit dishonest since he hasn't yet proposed and it could be confusing to those who think we are engaged for me to be really excited when he does officially propose. But I am struggling with how to refer to him to these new professors and students I will be meeting at the programs I am visiting very soon. I hate to just refer to him as my boyfriend since I know in some people's impressions that can come across as a term for a relatively short term relationship and I'm concerned the impression it might give off as a woman to be talking about her boyfriend. Whereas, if I could refer to him as my fiance or some other term it might give a different impression of both me and our relationship. I am also concerned using the qualifiers "long term boyfriend" or "boyfriend of 6 years" could come across strange too, almost as if I'm trying to desperately prove/validate our relationship.

I guess I am wondering if anyone might have some suggestions (since everyone here is talking about relationships and grad school) of how I can refer to him if he/our relationship needs to be something I talk about during my visits. I think I'm worrying about it because we are jointly applying to schools and what he thinks about a school and what he is offered is also going to factor heavily in my decision. I just think I'm worried about it since I think if I approach it the wrong way people could get the wrong impression since I am a woman and sometimes people could assume I am purely dictating my decisions based off him when instead we are going to make our decisions jointly.

If I need to pose this question elsewhere I will be happy to do so and please just let me know.

 

 

Edited by FishNerd

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@FishNerd: I think "partner" is very commonly used, especially where I am now. It's actually now my new favourite term and my partner and I are starting to use it more often to refer to each other. I have been saying "spouse" a lot in the past few years, especially on these forums (for some reason, "spouse" seems more naturally when written but doesn't sound as nice verbally, although I usually just use their name).

The reasons why I like "partner" is that it is the most true description of our relationship. I also like that it is gender-neutral and "legal"-neutral. By that I mean it doesn't require you to be legally married to your partner (for some people, they might come from countries where it would be illegal for them to be married, or maybe from cultures where they would not be accepted as a married couple). I also like that it doesn't imply a judgement on how committed you are---i.e. an unmarried partnership isn't any less valid than a married one. Our Graduate School policies uses this term as well because they don't want to treat married or unmarried partnerships differently (keeping in mind that some partnerships are more accepted by various laws/societies than others). So, for example, the school has benefits to help pay for a partner's health insurance and the school doesn't discriminate between married couples or not.

So I've been using "partner" more and more. Originally, I think people from same-sex partnerships and those who cannot or do not want to be married used this term more. But now, everyone uses it and I think it's great to normalize all relationships :)

Significant other is also nice but it's a bit longer! 

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@RK092089 and @TakeruK Thank you so much for your responses!

I know "partner" is pretty commonly used term and I think I definitely prefer it over calling him my boyfriend, but when I have talked to friends and family about it they always say "But that makes you sound like a gay couple!" I guess in the area I am currently in you really don't hear it outside of LGBTQ couples. I frankly don't care if someone thinks I'm not straight but I guess my in-person interactions had led to everyone telling me not to use the term "partner." Same situation for "significant other" but that one is more of a mouthful so I prefer "partner."

I guess I've also been concerned that someone could potentially be upset with me using a term that has historically been a term that LGBTQ people have mainly used and I would hate to co-opt a term that has largely been the LGBTQ community's (especially in the area I am currently in). But if that's just a weird concern of mine that actually has no bearing in real life, then I might just start calling him my partner because I think you make a great point TakeruK about how it's good to try and normalize all relationships no matter the composition of the couple or their marital status.

I also really agree that partner is a great term because it really does describe our relationship perfectly as well, since him and I are partners in this life (and this whole grad school gig!).

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1 hour ago, FishNerd said:

 

I know "partner" is pretty commonly used term and I think I definitely prefer it over calling him my boyfriend, but when I have talked to friends and family about it they always say "But that makes you sound like a gay couple!" I guess in the area I am currently in you really don't hear it outside of LGBTQ couples. I frankly don't care if someone thinks I'm not straight but I guess my in-person interactions had led to everyone telling me not to use the term "partner." Same situation for "significant other" but that one is more of a mouthful so I prefer "partner."

This is part of the reason why I am using it more too. I use it so that no one automatically has to out themselves if they use partner and I think if it's a universal term, then this will be better. It's the same reason why I am trying to identify myself with pronouns more regularly too. I think most people would assume the correct pronouns for me if they met me, but on conference badges, I still use my pronoun stickers. The conference organizers make enough for every attendee (although they are completely optional). For both "partner" and the pronouns, I just think it's better when it's not the default to assume heterosexuality and pronouns. 

That said, I did also think about not co-opting terms from a group I do not belong to. For both of these cases, I believe that that these uses are encouraged by LGBTQ advocacy groups.

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48 minutes ago, TakeruK said:

This is part of the reason why I am using it more too. I use it so that no one automatically has to out themselves if they use partner and I think if it's a universal term, then this will be better. It's the same reason why I am trying to identify myself with pronouns more regularly too. I think most people would assume the correct pronouns for me if they met me, but on conference badges, I still use my pronoun stickers. The conference organizers make enough for every attendee (although they are completely optional). For both "partner" and the pronouns, I just think it's better when it's not the default to assume heterosexuality and pronouns. 

That said, I did also think about not co-opting terms from a group I do not belong to. For both of these cases, I believe that that these uses are encouraged by LGBTQ advocacy groups.

I hadn't thought about the fact that if it becomes normalized for everyone to refer to their partner as their partner then that would mean that those who are LGBTQ wouldn't necessarily be outed by also using that term. It's also great to hear that this use is encouraged by LGBTQ advocacy groups. I will be sure to start using partner then! It definitely feels more way more fitting to refer to my partner as just that and not my boyfriend.

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My Spouse and I also have been married for a few years, and he will be joining me for grad school.  Fortunately, his job moves with him, so he can be the bigger income earner while I'm in school.

I would say that the biggest thing I'm doing is factoring him into my decision.  If it had been just me, I'd probably have gone back to Texas.  Since it's not, we're most likely staying near his family.  Similarly, where he can work has been factored in.  Furthermore, he has some desires with regards to the type of house he wants to live in, so that's a factor too.  Basically, if he's going to follow me and deal with the stress of a partner in a PhD program, I'm going to do everything I can to make it easy on him.

 

Oh, and as for Spouse/Partner, I'm a believer that none of us should assume the gender of someone, so I call him my spouse, and I called him my partner before we got married.  I don't think it's coopting language at all; it's normalizing the gender-neutral reference.  Even if someone is 99% hetero or homosexual, they may make a single exception...for the person they're married to.  So I like to think of it as being the change I want to see in the world.

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I have not yet started, but my spouse and I got married last year (both at age 23), and I will be attending a professional program in this fall. We have been together since we were 14 years old and when I start, we will have been together over a decade. I can't imagine doing this without him.

My program is one where people typically enter straight out of undergrad (which I did not do). I think I will probably stick out as being older and farther along in life than my peers. But I will have both an emotional and an economic support system in my spouse, and I think that's extremely valuable and will be a serious help for succeeding. I look forward to the day where I can do the same for him when he decides to start pursuing grad programs (he is in neuroscience/pharmacology). 

Unfortunately, the fact that we both need to pursue advanced degrees to reach our career goals means that we will probably have to put starting a family on hold for much longer than we otherwise would, but c'est la vie. 

I wish you and your fiance the best of luck!

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My husband and I were married at 26 (considered super old for where I grew up, ridiculously young for where I'm living now), and as others have said, I loved having his support while earning my masters.  Many people in my field take a year or two out of undergrad before applying, so it's not unheard of to be my age when going back to grad school.  That said, I cannot imagine completing a PhD without his emotional (and financial) support. Another "benefit" is I honestly think it's less distracting.  During my MA program there was a lot of drama over hookups within our cohort, and even on PhD interviews I've heard students asking more questions about the dating scene than the research and work itself.  

I would be cautious about your guest list if you're getting married a year or so into your program.  I invited a few close friends from my MA program, but it was a larger cohort (~35) so the lack of invitations wasn't surprising, but I can see how this could get dicey with a smaller program.

Congratulations on your engagement!  My guess is you may get a few raised eyebrows about "getting married so young," but most of your cohort interactions will be unaffected :)

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I am 29, married, going to grad school this fall. I am an international student and I do not know much about grad moods and culture, but I can't care less about what others will think about me being married. If anything, I think it's a great asset to bring your best friend with you. You'll know that you have your support with you at all times and that your life is more or less on track. Finding your soulmate is a huge blessing and it's going to be great comfort to you through grad-related hardships. Congratulations!

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Not married but everyone in my grad program is either married /pregnant or in long term relationships. They also bring their S/O to our social events and get togethers and it has never been a problem to anyone. That is in the U.S.

In Europe grad students tend to be a lot younger and in general you will be the odd one out..... but no one cares either :)

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I went to an phd interview lately and found out half of the first year grad students at that school got married, and many of the other grad students are engaged or in a serious relationship, while I am single. It is the other way around of your situation haha I don't think people care about their cohort marital status...

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I got married to my wife when I was in the Army and we hit our 9 year anniversary last month. We've been married/together through three deployments to the Middle East, two Bachelor's degrees, two Master's degrees, an Associates, and a toddler. At this point, what's a PhD but another thing?

But seriously, the support system is awesome and the financial stability can help too.

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When I did my master’s degree, two of us were already married (in a class of 14), and one other student married between first and second year.  I don’t think I would have been able to make it through my program without my husband’s support, although it was stressful when he was deployed to the Middle East during my second year!  I’m also limited geographically in terms of the PhD programs I was able to apply to, as my husband’s income is significantly higher than mine at this time (and my current contract ends soon).

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I'm also married, and a bit nervous about this as I have regularly gotten snides comments about the fact I am married. I am also 3 years older than my cohort, and I am hoping people do not treat me as if I am less "serious" than the non-married PhD students.

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My husband and I have already been together for almost ten years, and we have two kids...I think the way being married affects your life as a grad student has more to do with your relationship style. For me personally, being married and having kids has given me a solid foundation of support that I may have lacked otherwise. That said, especially being married with kids often makes me feel somewhat isolated from most of my peers--or it did in my master's program. I'm hoping to connect with other student parents in my PhD program. 

Edited by JustPoesieAlong

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I will have been married for 2 years when I start my PhD program in the fall. I've been a bit worried about fitting in, because on recruiting visits some of the others in my cohort seemed to treat me a bit differently after learning that I was married. I also got very tired of people acting surprised that my husband will be moving with me ("Oh, that's so awesome of him!"). A PhD in my field is a 5 to 6 year commitment, and I don't know many people who voluntarily choose long distance marriages if they can avoid it. I will be in my mid-30s by the time I complete my PhD, so my husband and I are likely going to have a kid by the time I'm done. I'm hoping I can connect with some older grad students/postdocs in addition to the primarily younger people in my cohort so I can have a variety of people to relate to.

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I'm 26 and got married at 22 and will be starting my Masters this coming Fall. I look forward to having the support of my wife emotionally and financially. We also have 2 kids so housing is a bit more expensive as far as what we need but we're determined to make it work. Personally I think it will be a benefit for you.

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21 hours ago, Leviathan said:

I'm 26 and got married at 22 and will be starting my Masters this coming Fall. I look forward to having the support of my wife emotionally and financially. We also have 2 kids so housing is a bit more expensive as far as what we need but we're determined to make it work. Personally I think it will be a benefit for you

Just wanted to say hi! It's nice to hear from someone with a similar life situation. Like I mention above, I've also been married for several years and have two kids. I'm incredibly thankful to have my husband and kids with me during this time. Sure, it means I have additional responsibilities on top of an already stressful time, but it also helps me to keep things in perspective. I'm pretty stressed about relocating somewhere that works for them, but I'm trying to remain positive--I think things will be easier once we've been in the area for a bit and can use that knowledge of the place to improve things where necessary. 

Edited by JustPoesieAlong

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