Having a nurse practitioner student for a spouse is no easy calling. Suddenly, you find yourself competing with finals week cram sessions and evening classes for your sig-o’s time. Household responsibilities once split (sort of…) fall increasingly on you. Frustration and resentment can build as your partner pursues his or her career goals leaving you with a stinky pile of laundry and a sink full of dirty dishes, soggy with left-over Cheerios.
Short term, your spouse’s intent on furthering his or her education may put a strain on your relationship. Long-term, however, you can look forward to a partner with a substantial paycheck, a satisfying career, and one who is overall more fulfilled. So, keep your chin up and stretch your hand out to support the aspiring nurse practitioner in your life. Here’s how.
1. Be flexible in finding a new ‘normal’
If your spouse carries a the bulk of responsibility in your home or family, be flexible as responsibilities are re-delegated between the two of you. Offer to pick up the kids at soccer practice or take on weekly grocery runs even if these don’t typically fall into your role in the relationship. Be open to taking on day to day tasks life requires to accommodate your aspiring nurse practitioner’s new school schedule and time commitment. Your life as a couple will inevitably be different at the time commitment of being a student requires reshuffling. Be flexible.
2. Relive your own student life
Returning to the life of a student means new needs and interests on part of your spouse. Understanding where your spouse is coming from is essential in supporting this new educational endeavor. Think back to your time as a student. What things helped motivate you during finals week? What did you need to succeed academically? Whether it’s a few hours of alone time to study, or a 3 hour afternoon nap between midterm cram sessions, remember on what kept you going as a student yourself. Support your spouse by helping recreate the positive aspects of your own student experience.
Stress is quick to take over nurse practitioner students. Your NP student spouse will find him or herself balancing time in the clinic, class, studying, and perhaps even employment. Recognize when your spouse is feeling totally overwhelmed and offer to help. Small acts like making breakfast, or packing your spouse a lunch go a long way .These things may not be major time savers, but a small show of support is enough to give your spouse the motivation to overcome student challenges.
5. Take a time out
Competing obligations an be a total relationship killer. As a nurse practitioner student, your spouse has even more on his or her mind than usual. Prioritize regular alone time together. Plan a creative, student budget friendly date night with your spouse, or take a quick getaway on a school break. Getting out of the house is a must for setting school and work aside to focus on your relationship.
Frustration with new schedules, new time commitments, and change in general is natural. A partner returning to school upsets the balance with which you have become familiar as a couple. Communication is essential to making the transition back to school a positive one for both you and your NP student spouse. If the cost of tuition is eating away at your life savings, work together to craft a budget. If you’re feeling dumped on when it comes to responsibilities around the house, vent (in a constructive way, of course). Willingness to have hard conversations protects your relationship.
7. Say ‘Thanks’
Your spouse’s efforts towards career advancement benefit you as well. Thank your significant other for all that he or she does to support your family and relationship. Appreciation is free to give and does not go unnoticed.
With a little effort and a lot of understanding, you can contribute to your partner’s success in his or her nurse practitioner career endeavor. Your sig-o will most certainly appreciate the support and look forward to repaying the effort in the future.
How do you support your nurse practitioner student spouse?