PT school and a family?


#1

So I asked this question a few days ago of Yahoo! Answers, which in retrospect, wasn't the brightest idea, reason one being that no one on that forum probably understands how to answer my question from a faith-based perspective, and two- no one has answered my question anyways. But no matter. I'd rather have the opinion of other practicing Catholics who understand where I'm coming from.

Okay, so here's my situation. I'm 21, and in the second semester of my junior year of college. I've been dating my boyfriend for several years, and he's been the most supportive, patient, and understanding guy I've ever met. Truly beyond rationale.

One of my greatest goals in life is to get married and have a family, and I LOVE kids. Right now, I'm getting ready to enter PT school (3 or so extra years of college), getting everything lined up for it. My boyfriend is studying engineering, and is in his sophomore year (2 of 5 years). I pestered him a bit about wanting to get married (once again, not smart in retrospect, but I really wanted it), and he said no at first, because he wanted to finish school, but has since changed his mind. It's something I really want, but I don't want to leave him feeling useless or incomplete, and I've since told him that he doesn't have to go through with it, but he says he will ask me to marry him sometime later this year. I'm not having second thoughts (of course I'll say yes if he asks me), but I know that if he asks me to marry him, I'm not going to want to wait around 3 or so years just to get married. And neither of us believe in the use of condoms or contraceptives (naturally, since we're Catholic and all).

I know throwing a baby into the mix puts a strain on things, especially during school (grad school no less!), but I also know that no time is ever really a good time to have a baby. This is something I feel very strongly about, and I would be willing to do anything to make this work. I know my boyfriend feels the same way. But in a way, I'm a little scared by all the advice I've turned up from other sources. I'm not sure how much of the advice I've turned up is just plain cynical. If I had to, I would give up PT school altogether for this and find a way to utilize my Exercise Science degree, that's how much I want this.

I must admit patience is one of my weakest virtues. I've prayed and been trying to work at it, but I still find myself extremely frustrated on a regular basis. Other events in my recent life have compounded my frustration (cancer, stroke, and death in my family all in the past 4 months), and staying busy is the only thing that's really helped me through it all. In a way, I wonder if these new and greater demands that have recently come into my life are preparing me for the (possibly near) future.

But I digress. I guess I just want to know- is there any way to make my situation work out without going against my (and my boyfriend's) personal beliefs on things such as condoms and contraceptives? Also, my mom is very adamant about me finishing grad school before getting married, but I feel that that is partially because neither of my older sisters ever finished their four year degrees. But I enjoy learning, and I work harder, and I'm almost done with my degree. And I wouldn't be getting married until after I'd already graduated from my first four years of college, that's longer than a lot of college students. Is it unreasonable for her to expect me to wait 7-8 years to get married? I've tried talking to her about it, but she won't hear any of it. I'm a little scared and confused about what I should do at this point. Words of encouragement would be great guys.

SORRY THIS IS SUCH A LONG POST I'VE HAD THIS ON MY MIND FOR FOREVER.


#2

Where have I heard this before? Oh yeah, about 13 years ago when my wife and I were thinking about getting married.

The short answer is that if you love each other, get married. The tragedies you mentioned only serve to remind us that life is short and precious and we should be wait for the sake of waiting. If you pray about it and it feels right, then get married. If you have not already done your Pre-Cana work, you will find that information to be very helpful.

Look into Natural Family Planning. As a PT candidate, you should be able to pick it up fairly quickly. The one word of caution I would throw in is that young couples are not renown for their ability to restrain once in the marriage bed. I would start practicing NFP with your boyfriend now. If you can take a class together and get comfortable sharing some the of the personal details about your body, then you will be way ahead of where my wife and I were. At least that way when you do get pregnant, it won't be by 'accident' (I hate that phrase), but because you and your husband love each other and want to become one in a life giving and profound way. (See Marriage and the Eucharist)

When we got married, she was 23, I was 24. We had both finished our under grad work and she was starting a two year MS program. We had our first child after about three years. Four more kids came along in the next six years. I stayed at home with our first while my wife worked and I got my masters in the evenings. It sounds a lot harder than it is.

Kids are a blessing. In our culture we are taught to fear our fertility and our offspring. They become the 'burden' to a marriage. It sounds like you have managed to avoid that nicely so far.

I'll keep you in my prayers!


#3

The preservation of chastity is a very good reason to marry*, even if you will need to use NFP to postpone pregnancy for a short while after you do. Keep in mind, too, that you are fortunate to live in 2011, and not 1961. Most graduate schools have policies in place for coping with students who become pregnant during their course of studies. Having said that, marriage is more work that it looks. Do not underestimate that!

You need to be absolutely certain that your intended does not feel unduly pressured, but letting him know that this is what you want hardly qualifies for that. Still, I wonder what you mean by "I don't want to leave him feeling useless or incomplete". Do you mean that you asked him, and not the other way around? I hope you do not mean that you are insisting that he give up his own education order to marry? I'm not sure what that is about. If he is struggling in his third year of engineering school, do not allow your desire to marry become a convenient excuse for *him *to quit. He either quits or doesn't, but quit or stay, you will cope with it as a couple. He ought not make marriage an excuse to quit.

By the time you finish college and particularly if you're considering marriage, it is time for you (and your husband-to-be) to decide your future, not your parents. That may mean earning your own way instead of depending on their support, but it is time to take your place among the adults. Your mother had over 20 years to raise you. Don't expect that she'll let go without your (gentle and respectful, let us hope!) insistence. Old habits die hard. Do let her know that while she may feel a need to advise you in her own strong terms, you have come to a point where she needs to recognize that you are grown, and these decisions are yours, not hers. (And no, it does not matter whether you "act like" an adult or not. You are there.) There is no room for "she won't hear any of it" from here on out, not if you marry, and preferably not at all. She can choose to hear or not, but the decision is not hers any more.

It is also not true that no time is ever a good time to have a baby. Rather, it is true that pregnancy and parenting aren't particularly convenient, because they bring obligations that take precedence over other things. There is a big difference.

  • "Indeed, I wish everyone to be as I am, but each has a particular gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. Now to the unmarried and to widows, I say: it is a good thing for them to remain as they are, as I do, but if they cannot exercise self-control they should marry, for it is better to marry than to be on fire." 1 Cor. 9:7-9

#4

My wife is finishing up PT school in May. We got married after she'd been in the program for a year. We have used NFP (the Creighton Method) to avoid pregnancy for two years. If you get married in the Catholic Church, you will have to learn about NFP in some form. Creighton has worked wonderfully for us, and we have not gotten pregnant, but it is always in God's hands. I hope I didn't misunderstand your concern. It sounded like you were concerned about being in PT school and getting pregnant should you marry. This actually happened to two of my wife's classmates. While the school might make you think it's the end of the world (so ridiculous, it's a miracle!), both women re-entered the program and will graduate. I'd pray and ask the LORD to not let you wander away from Him with whatever you choose. Confide in Him and tell him how hard it is to know His will, but that His will be done.

God bless!


#5

[quote="o0Raille0o, post:1, topic:230232"]

Okay, so here's my situation. I'm 21, and in the second semester of my junior year of college. I've been dating my boyfriend for several years, and he's been the most supportive, patient, and understanding guy I've ever met. Truly beyond rationale.

[/quote]

Since it seems clear to both of you that some day, you will marry, it seems unreasonable to delay - it's not like you just met him a few months ago. Indeed, it seems as if you spent at least part of your childhoods together, so you know each other's families quite well, I'm guessing, as well - and since they don't seem to have tried to push you apart, it also seems as if they like each other.

My brother and his wife were older than you are when they got married (she was 23 and he was 29), but even so, they were both still in school - and they made it work. For the first few years, they didn't live together, since she was in one city and he was in another - but once they were both finished school, they found jobs together and have been inseparable since then.

I think that if you both go into it with your eyes open, and aren't expecting to be the ideal family for the first few years that you are both finishing school, then you will be just fine. (But if you are expecting your husband to be home for supper at 5:00 pm every day while he is working and in school, then you will need to revise your expectations. And he also needs to realize that supper will not be ready on the table every day at 5:00 pm while you are also working and in school.)

I'm just curious - what does the acronym "PT" stand for? :)


#6

Physical Therapy


#7

MANY graduate students have children before and during grad school. I am a law student and dozens of my classmates (both male and female) had children before starting school, or have had them while in school. Many graduate schools even have “support groups” where graduate students with children can meet up and develop a support network among their peers.

Yes, NFP is incredibly effective (many studies show it to be MORE effective than artificial contraception). My personal opinion is that NFP can be especially effective among intelligent people (like the type of people who qualify for challenging graduate problems!)

I understand where your mom is coming from. If you are financially dependent on your parents in any way, do not marry until you and your husband are ready to be a financially independent unit. However, if you are financially independent, my opinion is that your mom’s opinion is just that–an opinion that can be supported or refuted with facts. My experience is that graduate school is actually easier for a married person than a single person. Graduate school will be the “leanest” years of your life, financially. Sharing living expenses with a spouse will reduce the financial burden. You and your spouse can support each other, keep each other from studying too much or too little. My husband rarely encourages me to study or not to study, but just having him present helps me monitor my time better than when I’m “on my own.”

Having gotten married before I was ready for children, and having experienced a really rocky start, I would encourage you not to marry until you are ready to “accept children lovingly from God,” since that’s part of the vow. You don’t have to actively start trying for a baby on the wedding night to embrace this part of the vow, but if your heart is in a place where you’re considering artificial birth control, you’re not quite ready to enter into a Catholic marriage.


#8

[quote="Augusta_Sans, post:7, topic:230232"]
Having gotten married before I was ready for children, and having experienced a really rocky start, I would encourage you not to marry until you are ready to "accept children lovingly from God," since that's part of the vow. You don't have to actively start trying for a baby on the wedding night to embrace this part of the vow, but if your heart is in a place where you're considering artificial birth control, you're not quite ready to enter into a Catholic marriage.

[/quote]

Getting married and using NFP to avoid a pregnancy while both parents are still in school is preferable to a violation of chastity, though. An extended engagement is one thing, but in the absence of a military deployment, graduate school in different regions of the country, or something of that nature, three years is too long.


#9

[quote="EasterJoy, post:8, topic:230232"]
Getting married and using NFP to avoid a pregnancy while both parents are still in school is preferable to a violation of chastity, though. An extended engagement is one thing, but in the absence of a military deployment, graduate school in different regions of the country, or something of that nature, three years is too long.

[/quote]

My opinion: If a couple struggles with maintaining chastity, they are not mature enough to get married and will likely struggle with the periodic abstinence required by NFP. (I don't care if they are 17 or 47. If chastity is a struggle, each person needs to do some personal growth before entering into marriage.)

I also agree that a three-year engagement is ridiculous (except when necessary). I believe the "engagement" period is for planning the wedding for as soon as possible, not postponing it until you're actually ready to get married.


#10

Hello Raille,
I'm going to approach this not simply from the perspective of faith, but with the perspective of a Catholic wife of twenty-two years and a mother. My oldest child is about the age of your boyfriend. He has a wonderful girlfriend who loves children and who may one day be the mother my grandchildren. I like her very much, and I will tell you what I would tell her if she asked me this. PLEASE do not pressure your boyfriend to marry you before he has finished the education that he needs to provide for his future family!!!!

Sure, you can make this work out. Sure, you can practice chastity in marriage. Sure, there are people who married before one or both of them finished their degree and they somehow managed. There is also a very high divorce rate and the divorce rate of Catholics is just about as high as the rest of society. Catholic marriage isn't just about what you will be doing 3,5 or 7 years down the road. It's for a lifetime. From my perspective, you are suggesting something that will make both your lives, your marriage, and your family life more difficult. A couple of decades later, I wondering how all of this will turn out if you get what you are asking for now, especially once the babies do start arriving, (at whatever time that is.) Getting married is easy--staying happily married takes hard work and good planning.

You love children. Your greatest goal is to be a wife and mom. You also want to be a physical therapist. You have fine goals. Think about what you wrote was your greatest goals as you ponder the question you asked us. I went to college and built a career. I loved children, and I loved my job. Then I had a baby--and felt torn apart inside everytime I dropped him off at daycare. Read past posts about women who would love to stay home with their babies but who can't afford it.

My husband is a good provider. He's smart and talented, and he already had his bachelors degree and a budding career when we married. He wasn't going to propose to me or anyone until he had a good job. He might have gone even farther if he had finished grad school, but he's done fine. My husband was in grad school when we married--paid for by his employer, no less! He discontinued pursuing his MBA degree shortly after our first baby came along. I had a degree and a career, and neither of us had a load of college debt. Yet, I still worked full-time after we had our first child. I eventually cut back to part time, then after a few more years I stopped working altogether. I haven't worked for a paycheck in over a decade. I now stay home and raise all those kids that I love, except the oldest who is a grown up now and trying to get established to provide for having his own family in the future.

Your boyfriend may very well love you and want to marry you. If he's the great guy that you say he is, he will ALSO want to provide for his wife and his family. That's what good men seem to instinctily want to do: provide, protect, project. Even if you work, (and even if you make more money that he does), he will likely feel a great sense of responsibility to provide for his family. Right now your boyfriend is at the stage in his life of aquiring his education so that he can become the type of husband that you will probably want in the future. Even if you love your work, I bet you'll feel torn apart if you go back to work right after you have a baby. Don't undermine your own goals of being a wife and a mother by pushing for marriage before your boyfriend is out of school. Don't undermine his goals either. If you love him, don't push your boyfriend into marrying you before you both can have and support a family.


#11

I have heard of NFP, but I don’t really know many details about it. My boyfriend and I haven’t been that intimate, so I don’t know how comfortable I would be talking about that right now, but I suppose it wouldn’t hurt. I’m not sure how I would “start practicing” with my boyfriend now, but I know he has a lot of restraint. I’m not so upset by the idea of getting pregnant. Actually, I would be ecstatic! It’s more the thought of being told I can’t finish graduate school that upsets me.

When I said I didn’t want to leave him feeling useless or incomplete, I didn’t mean that I was telling him he had to quit school. That’s the last thing I want. I also want to finish school, but I also don’t want to wait roughly 4-5 more years to consider getting married and having a family. There’s nothing wrong with waiting, it’s just not what I want. I have worried that he chose in haste and would regret at his leisure. The fact remains that there was some pressure put on him (not anymore). Even though I’ve since told him (multiple times) not to worry about it, that I am not expecting anything of him, nor do I want him to feel like he’s being forced, he knows I still would like it, and he really seems like he has had a change of heart in some way or another. Of course he still wants to be able to provide for me and a family, but he and I both have job opportunities related to our fields of work that we’re already required to perform for school, not to mention all the money I have saved up, investments, bonds and things. We aren’t completely helpless or unprepared for such an event.

It irks me and scares me at the same time that almost everyone I’ve run across assumes that if you get married in college, you automatically won’t finish and you will work a two-bit job flipping burgers the rest of your life, trying to make ends meet. It irks me more that my mom doesn’t seem to trust in my abilities, even though I’m hard-working and a top student. She met my father after he had dropped out of college, and it feels like her fears are not only a lack of trust, but projecting her own regrets on me. It also makes me doubt my own judgment. She’s been one of my best friends, and I want her support- I don’t want to fight with her.


#12

Oh boy :) You sound like me and my husband a few years ago!
My daughter was a blessed surprise. I waddled my way through my last year of college, and finished days before she was born.

God provided, it was amazing. It also took a lot of personal effort and organization to make everything go as smoothly as it did.

My husband is pursuing his PhD in software engineering, and he teaches full time.

I work full time and am going back to school in the fall to get my Masters in Social Work, or MSW. My little girl goes to daycare, and when I go back to school I will even get a small stipend to help with childcare costs because of my current job at a nonprofit. It takes some creativity from a financial standpoint, but it is possible!

If you know you are going to spend the rest of your life with this man, than get married!! :) Saving yourself for marriage is a wonderful, beautiful thing. NFP can work, it worked for my mother and grandmother and that was before we know all of the great information that we know today about cervical position, mucus changes, and the other signs of fertility.

If you get pregnant during school, you can still attend while pregnant. No teacher will DARE dock your grades if you are missing class because you are puking in your first trimester or experiencing debilitating sciatica in your second trimester, every public college has a disabilities board that you can appeal to if discriminated against. I was preggo while in school, the office of disabilities saved my academic career :) I worked hard for my grades, but my teachers were very good about working with me if my schedule got haywire with doctor appointments or illness.

Hope everyone's insight has helped you a bit! Pray on it and see if you feel what is right for you and your boyfriend. God's plans can change, too, so be open to that as well!
God bless :)
M


#13

I made my dh wait until I graduated undergrad to get married, I would suggest that for you guys, just because undergrad schools don't have policies in place to help those who do get pregnant. We had a two year engagement, and it was really nice to have that leisurely time to plan for a wedding while finishing up school, I was able to do most of the planning in the summer. Also I was worried about my priorities changing and not graduating with as high marks or not graduating at all, if I got married. And boy did my priorities change. :p

I am in law school while married and it is hard. I also have two children, so take that how you want. But like garden said, I am conflicted. I didn't even really want children. But now every time I leave them (with dh) I feel awful. But now that I am a law student I will have to work, at least for a time, because of the loans I took on. While I love to study the law and it sometimes provides a nice break for me, I feel great sorrow knowing that when I work, I will be leaving my children for 8+ hours a day.

So I guess my advise is to think hard about your vocation as a wife and mother and how you want to approach that. How many children do you think you want, how do you want to raise them, do you want to stay home or send them to daycare, and etc? The other considerations would be, how many loans do you have to take on to go to PT school, will those obligations force you to work or not change your mind once you start?

It obviously is possible, my dh is severely underemployed but it enables him to work 3rd shift and then watch the children while I am in school. He then sleeps when I get home. For us right now it works, and I am not sure I would have done things differently if I knew I would feel this way once I became a mother, but it would have been nice to make a more informed decision. Of course I believe that God has us at this point in our lives for a reason. :thumbsup:


#14

[quote="o0Raille0o, post:11, topic:230232"]
My boyfriend and I haven’t been that intimate, so I don’t know how comfortable I would be talking about that right now, but I suppose it wouldn’t hurt. I’m not sure how I would “start practicing” with my boyfriend now, but I know he has a lot of restraint.

[/quote]

I think what the previous poster means by "start practicing" is to start charting your fertility now so (a) you get to know your cycle really well long before the wedding day. The more cycles you chart before the wedding day, the more you will understand your own personal cycle. For me, knowing my cycle really well meant that when we were trying to avoid pregnancy, we only needed to abstain for approximately 5 days. (We were extremely conservative though and usually abstained for much longer periods of time to be on the safe side. We're "belts and suspenders" kind of people!)

My husband and I were not extremely intimate before marriage (we certainly did not have premarital sex, like you). If you are seriously contemplating marriage, you do need to get comfortable talking about sex with your boyfriend early in the game. :thumbsup:

If you're not ready to take an NFP class, I recommend buying a basal thermometer, signing up at FertilityFriend.com (LOVE their charting features!), and doing some self-education through the FertilityFriend tutorials. Of course nothing is a substitute for an actual NFP class, but this would be a nice introduction to NFP charting and would be a way you can get started without stepping too far out of your comfort zone.

(I personally wish I had charted from the day I got my period forward. It's so fascinating to actually KNOW my body. I'm a bit of a fanatic though!)


#15

I know one girl who is in her 2nd year of PT school who had her baby last year. She does this with a husband who babysits during the day and works evenings, daycare at the university, a PT school that is understanding and works with her, and parents/in-laws who visit weekly. Her in-laws actually stayed with the baby for exams. She is an amazing person, but she still wouldn't be able to do this without all that support. There are also the clinicals where you will be gone for 6-12 weeks at a time. You have to decide what is right for you. That's a hard way to start a marriage. And it will take a lot to have a child while in PT school. It is very intense.


#16

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