Marriage and graduate school


#1

Hi,

My girlfriend and I are considering getting married soon and we are looking for some advice or opinions. We are both third year students at universities in different states. We have known each other for seven years and have dated for five, three being long-distance. We are from the same area and our families get along well. We were both raised as Catholics and are committed to knowing, loving, and serving God in whatever ways he wants for us. We love each other and want to be engaged soon but there are several complications which we are concerned about. We are trying to determine if marriage is God's will for us and want to know how to view these problems in that light.

1) We have somewhat heavy educational debt ($35,000 between the two of us). Neither of us has much income and we do not project having an above poverty level income for some time. Currently we earn about $7,000 between the two of us. We do not anticipate any more educational expenses. Also, I literally have less than $2000 to my name.

2) We both want to pursue graduate level education. This is time-consuming and difficult and will remove us from our family support and circle of friends. There is also a certain amount of stress that is endemic to graduate school and could compound the problem when added to being away from friends and family and newly married.

3) We are concerned that we will not be able to create an economic and emotional (time, attention, care) environment healthy for children within a reasonable amount of time after being married (less than three years). We are concerned that because of this we will have to delay having children for an excessive amount of time.

Our tentative plan as of now is to get engaged soon, marry in the summer of 2011, and attend graduate school at the same institution. I am looking at two years and she could be done anywhere from two to six years.

Basically we know that we want to be married but these difficulties make it seem like it could be God's will for us to either wait, change our educational or career plans, or some other solution. Does anyone have any advice for us?

Thank you,

mathmusic2


#2

Are each of you in academic fields where the graduate school will pay you, or in professional fields where graduate school will be very expensive?

Have you found a university that has graduate programs in both your fields?


#3

There are several universities that have good programs in both of our fields. Most likely her program would be free and pay a living stipend. My program will also be free but only one program I am looking at offers a stipend.


#4

Hmm this is an interesting problem I am married and in Law school (3 year program) With a baby. We married the summer between undergrad and law school. My husband is not in school but is under-employed because of where I am going to school. And my school loans amount to a mortgage. However, the stresses of a baby, economic difficulties, and school have made our bond/marriage stronger.

A baby during school (especially for Mom) is difficult. Not impossible but difficult. In someways it is great, because my schedule is somewhat flexible, but in other ways hard (on my school work and I am still not spending the time I want with my baby). I am not involved in any extra activities and I don't spend time at school studying because I have to come home right away.

Anyways, this would be something to discern together with pray.


#5

[quote="mathmusic2, post:1, topic:196434"]
Hi,

My girlfriend and I are considering getting married soon and we are looking for some advice or opinions. We are both third year students at universities in different states. We have known each other for seven years and have dated for five, three being long-distance. We are from the same area and our families get along well. We were both raised as Catholics and are committed to knowing, loving, and serving God in whatever ways he wants for us. We love each other and want to be engaged soon but there are several complications which we are concerned about. We are trying to determine if marriage is God's will for us and want to know how to view these problems in that light.

1) We have somewhat heavy educational debt ($35,000 between the two of us). Neither of us has much income and we do not project having an above poverty level income for some time. Currently we earn about $7,000 between the two of us. We do not anticipate any more educational expenses. Also, I literally have less than $2000 to my name.

2) We both want to pursue graduate level education. This is time-consuming and difficult and will remove us from our family support and circle of friends. There is also a certain amount of stress that is endemic to graduate school and could compound the problem when added to being away from friends and family and newly married.

3) We are concerned that we will not be able to create an economic and emotional (time, attention, care) environment healthy for children within a reasonable amount of time after being married (less than three years). We are concerned that because of this we will have to delay having children for an excessive amount of time.

Our tentative plan as of now is to get engaged soon, marry in the summer of 2011, and attend graduate school at the same institution. I am looking at two years and she could be done anywhere from two to six years.

Basically we know that we want to be married but these difficulties make it seem like it could be God's will for us to either wait, change our educational or career plans, or some other solution. Does anyone have any advice for us?

Thank you,

mathmusic2

[/quote]

Anyway i think it's ok.Advices?Think carefully about troubles which u'll encounter


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#6

If you can end up at the same university, the rest of your plan seems doable. However, one of you may have to give up going to a better university to make that happen.

Good luck!


#7

It seems to me that this is exactly what NFP is for. You have discerned that currently is not the best time for children due to, finances, stress and other commitments. You are open to life at a future time.

You said you wanted to marry and practice NFP. If it is God's will, or you change your mind, you will have a child. If not then when the time is right you can easily shift away from NFP and have children.

If God has called you to marriage chances are you know it and waiting may cost you more then you are willing to give up.

God Bless You......


#8

A great Catholic Answers Show 21 Apr 2010 with Sister Rosalind Moss and she actually talks to a young women who asked basically the same exact quesion. You can download the Pod Cast of the show from I-Tunes for free.:bounce:


#9

For context, the thread forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=253441 is about us as well, mathmusic2 is my boyfriend. Obviously we’ve had these same questions for a while and haven’t come to any conclusions yet. The difference is that now we are reaching a point where we actually have to start making decisions, whereas before we were just thinking about things. We appreciate all of your thoughts on this matter. :slight_smile:


#10

My husband and I got married while we both did postgrad degrees. He now has a full-time job and I'm finishing my PhD and expecting a baby. He is the only one that earns money at this point. I have to be honest, it's not always easy but it's doable and we're happy. I personally don't believe that there is ever an 'ideal' time to get married/have children because one can always find reasons to postpone these big decisions. Even when we plan things to the last detail sometime they just don't work out. Things happen. Life happens.

Basically, what I'm saying is that you can do your studies and get married. You might have to compromise on a few things in order to make it work so the question is whether you're prepared for that and to what extent.

I'm sorry if I haven't given more practical advice but what I've written comes from my experience and hopefully can help you in some way.

Good luck! :thumbsup:


#11

[quote="mathmusic2, post:1, topic:196434"]
Hi,

My2) We both want to pursue graduate level education. This is time-consuming and difficult and will remove us from our family support and circle of friends. There is also a certain amount of stress that is endemic to graduate school and could compound the problem when added to being away from friends and family and newly married.

[/quote]

general advice I have heard and that consistently seems to be valid is not to undertake the time and expense of grad school unless the cost is underwritten by an employer, scholarship, assistanships etc., nor without a very clear picture of the career goal and a focus on that. For instance if the MSW or whatever is the entry level credential for the job, go for it, but don't just get an MBA because it looks good on a resume, because without exerience it is not worth much. If you have student loan debt you better both get out there working, in your field, or anywhere that gives you experience at least the skills you will need in your goal career, if not in that actual field.

If you have discerned marriage, get married, and work together on building your life.

if grad school is still in the cards, go to the same school if at all possible, the long distance thing rarely works, and yes it is actually easier to start your family in these years because on-campus day care covers while you are both in class or working. You will certainly learn time management if nothing else. It can be done, people do it all the time, but make sure you have a clear focus and reason for grad school at this time.

the other rule nobody talks about is that if you wait until you can "afford it" to have children you will be raising your kids during retirement. there is no such thing, just get married and raise the children God sends, that is the purpose of your marriage. School and career facilitate that primary goal and provide the setting in which you witness Christ to the world, but are not ends in themselves.


#12

My husband and I met during graduate school. I was a in my 4th year and he was in his 5th year of our PhD program when we were married. We had talked about waiting till we were both finished with school to get married, but I am so happy that we did not!

Since we are different years, we knew that we would have to live apart of a year or two. I think patience and communication have helped us over the past year. I know that grad school involves long hours ( I am currently writing up my thesis now), but what helps is that we both understand what grad school is about, and the time commitment that we both have. Even though we may not have a lot of time, we always manage to make the time we have count.

I would say to think and pray about what is right for both of you.


#13

[quote="mathmusic2, post:3, topic:196434"]
There are several universities that have good programs in both of our fields. Most likely her program would be free and pay a living stipend. My program will also be free but only one program I am looking at offers a stipend.

[/quote]

I was in a similar situation myself before I started grad school. At worst, you can take out a loan for your living expenses if you do not get a stipend. I recommend GradPLUS since you can get income contingent loans once you graduate, so you can manage your finances.

At the graduate level you won't experience the same financial aid hardships that an undergraduate would (penalties for your efc).

As far as getting married soon, take grad school out of the equation and ask yourself if it feels right to you and if you are both willing to make the sacrifices necessary for a healthy marriage.

:)


#14

Your situation is far more common than you might think.

Both of our girls have attended grad school while newly married. Older daughter worked two years, and then started grad school, paying tuition out of what she'd saved (her program offered few assistantships). Her husband was a Ph.D. student at the same university at the time. After she earned her M.A., she worked, while he finished up his Ph.D. (last year). There wasn't much extra money, but they did fine (he had grants). He is now doing a post-doc, with a good faculty job recently offered. She is using her degree and doing pretty well, stashing money away for a house when they move next year to his job. (No children yet...trying, though).

Younger daughter and her dh are both in the same grad program; she will finish in 3 years and he will take two years longer to complete a Ph.D. in addition to the clinical degree they will both have. She will have loans, he will have fewer, as he has an assistantship and will have a bigger stipend and no tuition in the Ph.D. part of his program.

Marriage while in school can work, as long as there is some income. You can live simply (my husband and I did it, too; I worked while he was in grad school). I see no problem with using NFP to postpone pregnancy; you have a serious, sensible reason. But, even if you do have a child while in school...it will work out!

God bless.


closed #15

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