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Have you and your partner had an argument about money? Well, so has every couple in the world. Finances are the leading cause of stress in a relationship. According to a survey by SunTrust Bank, 35% of the respondents said money was the primary cause of friction when experiencing relationship stress. This beat every other category, including annoying habits.
Since money and stress seem to go hand in hand, when one spouse is in school or decides to make the commitment to go back to get a degree, it can be a stressful time for the relationship and strenuous on finances. How can couples learn to deal with the financial tensions while strengthening their relationship while one partner is in school?
Help! I’m in a Relationship with a Student
It’s pretty accurate to say that “student” is synonymous with “poor”. For some couples, one partner is still in school or may decide to go back to school. This is obviously a huge investment since some tuitions can cost more than $50,000 per year. There are going to be some serious compromises for you to maintain a healthy relationship with your partner. Here are some tips that can help you with this temporary phase of your relationship.
1. Communication is Key
Being able to easily and honestly communicate with your partner is rule number one for every successful relationship. But when it comes to financial burdens and decisions about going back to school, it is crucial to openly and honestly discuss the reality of the situation.
Sit down and go through the important questions that many try to avoid. How are we going to handle the financial burden? Will we have to move so you can go to your dream school? Will you be able to work while in school? Will this impact our family plans? How will we deal with the time apart? Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. It is an important decision for you too if you are committing to stay with a student and you need all the information up front.
2. Create a Budget
Colleges are pricey and if you are the one working with the financial burden on your shoulders, you can easily get angry or stressed out. A great way to relieve some of this stress is to create a plan for reasonably budgeting and paying off student loans. This means that you and your partner are going to both be living like students–eating in, clipping coupons, and buying only necessities. In order for your relationship to last, you both need to budget together.
3. Make Time for Each Other
You and your partner will have much less time together once classes begin. What were once date nights turn into night classes or long study sessions. It is important that you continue to make time for one another.
Have breakfast together or make sure that you have at least 30 minutes together everyday. Text or email each other throughout the day to let your partner know you are thinking about them. During this trying period, you are going to have to work at staying connected.
4. Show Support
It’s not easy to go back to school. It can be very demanding and requires a substantial amount of hard work. The decision for your partner to continue their education is an investment for your future together. By showing your support throughout this process and being their number one cheerleader, your relationship will deepen. Tell them good luck as they leave to go take a test or give a presentation. Make sure they know you are proud of their accomplishments and you are here to help and support them. This can turn a stressful relationship into a nurturing one.
5. Pursue Your own Dreams
All relationships demand compromises and sacrifices. It may seem like you are sacrificing a lot for your partner to be in school, but you should never sacrifice yourself. If you ignore your needs and goals, you will soon resent your partner. Be honest with your partner to make sure that wherever their studies take them, you can still pursue your own interests.
This time can be great for you to also focus on yourself and your dreams, just as your student partner is doing. Connect with old friends or go out and make some new ones. Try a new hobby or enroll in a night class so you and your partner can both share something new you’ve learned. Since you will have a lot more alone time, why not fill it with something that will help you grow personally?
Remember, This is not Forever
This is all temporary, don’t worry. This is a sacrifice that will result in a worthy reward. Your partner’s decision to receive more schooling ensures a better future for the both of you.
Your relationship does not need to be damaged by this period of extreme financial stress. Instead, if handled correctly, your relationship will be so much stronger after making it through this together as a team. Tough times don’t last forever and they help you realize what is really important in life. If you have a roof over your head, food to eat, and your partner by your side, things are not bad at all.
Matthew Stevens started Crush The CFA Exam, an online resource dedicated to helping professionals pass the Financial Analyst Exams and further their careers.