Thursday, April 24, 2014

5 Ways to Thrive as a Law School Spouse

He did it!! Brad got through his first year of law school!! 
Finals are done, papers are in, and we are headed out of town!
Which means that I got through my first year as a law school wife! 
I actually feel pretty accomplished! 
(Can you tell by the many exclamation points that I'm WAY excited??!!)

I was thinking today about the beginning of the year when I went to a meeting for law school spouses. 
And it was pretty awful. I never went back. 
Basically, all of the spouses complained about how terrible their experience was 
and that they were counting down the days until the end. 
They said that they were surviving, but it wasn't fun. 
They felt tired, neglected, and frustrated a lot of the time.

I decided right then that I wasn't going to complain my way through the next three years of my life. 
I wasn't going to only survive. I wanted to thrive

Now don't get me wrong... I don't have anything against these girls, and I am not judging them. 
Law school is hard. It is difficult to be the spouse of a law student. 
But it doesn't have to be terrible... In fact, it can actually be pretty great. 
So I thought I would share some of my ideas, since maybe someone else could use them too.
And these ideas don't only apply to law school spouses. 
I think they could help at any time during your marriage.
I'm talking as a law spouse, because 8 of our 10 months of marriage have been in law school, 
so that's what I know. 

Prioritize with Your Spouse
At the start of the year, we went to a dinner at the home of one of the law professors. He gave us some great advice. He said that law school could easily take over your entire life if you let it. The key was to 
not let it. Brad and I took that advice to heart and came up with our priorities. For us, The Lord comes first. Daily personal and couple scripture study and prayer were musts. Weekly Temple attendance was definitely going to happen. Sunday would continue to be a day of rest, the Lord's day: no homework, weekly church attendance, etc. A close second on our list of priorities was our relationship with each other. Weekly date night was a must. We would eat dinner every night together at 6:30... even if homework wasn't done. Now, all of this meant quite a bit of sacrifice on Brad's part. He woke up every morning at 5:00AM and some nights didn't go to bed until well after midnight. 
But we had our priorities. 

One day, I skeptically asked Brad if he had actually finished all of his reading when he offered to help me with a project. He put it perfectly when he said "there will always be more to do. But I choose to be with you." Law school is such a place that there is always another case to read, always more policies to understand, always more outlining to do, etc. But put your marriage first. Law School (or Med School or MBA programs or life) will work out. 

Be Supportive
Law school is really really difficult. Your spouse will be learning how to study in a totally different way than they are used to. They will be asked to read hundreds and hundreds of pages every week. They will feel an immense pressure to be the best, do the best they can, and come out in a position that will get them the best job. They need you to be there to support them. I have learned to help Brad with his flash cards and outlines during finals, even when I am bored silly over the different policies and procedures. I try to remember when he has presentations and have a shirt ironed for him so that he doesn't have to worry about it. I leave little notes of encouragement. I try to have dinner ready right on time to show appreciation for him leaving his studies to be with me.

Now, it's important to also let your spouse support you. Marriage goes both ways.
It's okay to support each other. Which takes me to my next point.

Express Your Needs... And Know It's Okay to Have Them
When law school began, I thought I had to be there all the time and meet all of Brad's needs and make sure that I didn't need anything myself. In my mind, he was already so busy, and had so much to do that I didn't want to add to the stress. I made sure that I took care of everything I could, and didn't bring things up that I thought would burden him. But man, was I wrong. Eventually, I was feeling really burnt out and just so unlike myself. One night, I completely broke down and told Brad all these things that he didn't even know I was struggling with. And you know what? He was totally able to meet my simple needs. He just needed me to tell him what I needed. We were both happier after I learned to express myself. I was having my needs met, and Brad was glad to be able to help me with some things. They say that marriage is 50-50, but I don't agree. You both have to give 100%. It's a give and take... 
and it really is okay to take sometimes. 

Be The Best You
As wonderful as Brad is, the fact of the matter is that law school takes a lot of time. Even with good priorities including dinner, date nights, and Sundays at home, a law spouse will find that she is home alone a lot of the time. Saturdays can be especially long, and you may even spend week nights home alone. So it's important to find things that you love doing. Get a hobby. Take a class. Expand your talents. Serve. I am a lot happier when I spend my alone time doing things that matter most. 

Make Memories
Brad and I don't want to leave law school, never wanting to think about it again. We want to create fond memories and look back at this time as something really special. When we are together, we try to do fun things. We try new things, get out of the house, see different places, etc. We are present when we are together, putting away cell phones, computers, and homework. When we have to be apart, we make sure to remember important things to tell each other. We know that we are creating 
"remember when...." moments. 

From one of our Sunday walks up to the Temple.

This year has definitely been a whirlwind of emotions. Learning these five things took a lot of time, 
and we were never totally perfect at all of them. 
But I feel that we really thrived during this school year. 
Did I complain every now and then? I'm sad to admit, but Yes. 
But Brad loved me anyways. 
Even when I thought certain things were extremely difficult and made sure he knew how I felt.
And the good things far outweighed the difficult things. 
And the difficulties are the things that make the good times even more amazing. 

I love Brad so so much! I am proud of him for doing so well in law school. 
I'm extremely thankful that he chose to put The Lord and our Marriage Relationship first, 
while letting law school follow. He was definitely blessed for doing so. 
I can honestly say, that we are excited about the next two years. 
Are we looking forward to being totally done with law school? YES! 
But, we aren't dreading the journey to get to that point, 
for it is the journey that lets us find true joy. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Uno Bowling

So apparently, I decided to take the entire week of spring break off from blogging. 
I have so much to catch up on! Spring break was definitely good to me. 
In the next few days, I will hopefully catch up on: painted dining room chairs (finally), mission friends, 
a great visit from mom, surviving my first year as a law wife, and some new yummy recipes. 

But for now, I'll just tell you about our most recent date night. 

We are going on 10 months of marriage now. (woot)! That being the case, 
date night has transformed in some ways. Before we were married, it was common for us 
to get together after work and go out on a date starting at 9:00 PM or even later. 
Now days, we go out a lot earlier and we are home and asleep before it's all that late. haha. 
Married life. 

When my AZ friend Jessica who is living up in Salt Lake invited us to meet up with her and her bf
 for a round of bowling, we were definitely game. We chuckled when we started the date at 9:30 PM. 
And let me tell you, when we got home around 11:45 we were draaaging. 
Yet Jess and her bf were still going strong! 
Oh to be young again..... 

But anyways, we had a great time! It was so good to see Jess after such a long time! 
Jessica is such a great friend! We have done a lot together: institute, ASU school of music, 
our first sprint triathlon, and so many other great things. 
I've really missed Jess and it was great to get together!

They explained to us that we would be bowling a little differently than normal, 
and introduced us to Uno Bowling. 
Sorry for the terrible coloring... bowling alleys have the worst lighting for good pictures.

It's a really fun idea, and we sure did get a bunch of laughs out of it. 
Basically, you draw a card, which determines how you bowl:

You can imagine the good times that came from these different ways to bowl. 

Some highlights of the evening were Brad falling over after spinning three times, all four of us 
crowded around one bowling ball trying to get it down the alley, trying to figure out how 
to bowl without hands, and catching up and having a good time as friends.

When the scores came in, I was glad to not be too self conscious or anything.

When everyone's scores kept going up and mine didn't, my goal was to break ten. 
I couldn't even do that. 

But it was still really fun and everyone had a really great time.
Thanks to Jess and Robbie for a fun evening!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

On Celebrating

What are your thoughts on celebrations?

Some people say that you should only celebrate the big events so that they stay special... 
I am of a different opinion. I think that we should find things to celebrate day to day, 
and even celebrate the "small" moments. I think that keeps a marriage strong. 
Brad and I try to celebrate each other's accomplishments. When Brad was offered the position 
at Fennemore Craig, I made him a banana cream pie. When I passed certain anniversaries of important dates on my mission, Brad got me some Argentine goodies. I try to make meals that match 
the seasons/obscure holidays. We try to remember special events and celebrate them. 
We remember when the other has a big test, project, paper, etc. and make sure to comment on it.

Marriage does take work, but when both give 100%, finding joy in the journey, 
it is the most wonderful thing you will do! What better thing to celebrate daily than you marriage?

I think there is a lot of truth in this statement: 
"Don't save something only for a special occasion. 
Every day in your life is a special occasion" 
-Thomas S. Monson (Read the whole talk here). 

We can make special occasions out of every day, 
and it doesn't take away the greatness of those extra special occasions. 

Sunday marked one year since we got engaged

So many things to be celebrated about that day when I said yes, 
and made the most important decision of my life!

So I put together a little basket (yes, this is a bowl... remember when I talked about newlyweds not owning things that you just assume you have on hand? Well, I don't own a basket... yet)
of random things just to say to Brad, "I love you. I want to celebrate us!"

Best moment was when Brad said "OH! It all has to do with 'pop!'" 
Pretty simple stuff, but still fun to recognize and celebrate moments.

Later that day, after choir practice and dinner, Brad asked if I wanted to go on a Sunday drive. 
Of course, I agreed. 
We drove up Provo canyon and enjoyed looking at the beauty around us 
as the trees slowly come to life after a long winter. 
We stopped at a lake and got out to walk around a bit. It was pretty chilly and I was ready to head back
But Brad said he had something for me first. 
He said that things went so well for him last year, that he figured he would try it again.

And he pulled out this beauty.

I have been wanting this ring for a long time. 
I used to have one just like it, but gave it away on my mission.
I don't know what it is about the ring, but I just love it. 
I think I mentioned it to Brad once, quite a long time ago... seriously, probably 6 months ago.
And he remembered!
Isn't he just so great?
He slipped it on my finger, and I told him that I would marry him a million times over. 

Do I know how to pick em or what?

I love that we can celebrate each other and do the "small things" that make all the difference. 
Truly, every day is a special occasion, and we can find things to celebrate in each other. 
I'm so grateful for Brad. Amongst a crazy busy first year of law school, he has put our first year 
of marriage ahead of memos, studying, projects, etc. 
What a lucky girl I am.

How do you celebrate each other daily?

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