How to Maintain the Connection With Your Significant Other While in Law School

How to maintain the connection with your significant other while in law schoolPlease welcome back guest writer Mark Livingston, 3L, as well as husband and father, to discuss managing a relationship and your law school career.

I remember the day that I made a promise to my wife that law school wouldn’t adversely affect our marriage. “I promise that I will maintain balance.” My wife is an amazing woman, and she supported me with cautious optimism. In truth, every day, since the first day of my 1L year, I have struggled to maintain that promise. It has been a rough ride at times and our marriage has some significant battle scars to prove it. Whether you are married, co-habitating with someone you just like a lot, or are committed to your significant other, here are a few tips to help keep the passion alive and prevent you from getting the boot from your bae.

Communication, Communication, Communication

The biggest challenge I have experienced is figuring out how to talk to my wife about law school in a way that is interesting (for her) and won’t push her into a boredom-induced coma. Of course, we all get excited about each new area of law we study, the most recent cases we talked about in class, and the legal cases in the news that you have suddenly become an authority on because you are in law school. Your significant other wants to be part of your law school experience. They want you to discuss your fears, anxieties, successes, and happy events. In addition, it’s important to talk to them about their day too. You are consumed by the crucible of law school, but that does not diminish the need to connect with your partner by taking an interest in him or her. Keep the lines of communication open and maintain transparency.

Can I Get A Date Night Please?

You are a serious law student. You have cases to brief, arguments to make, and cold calling to survive, but if you don’t want to wake up single in the middle of your 2L year, make time to have a date with your inamorato. My wife and I struggled to make this a priority in the beginning, and it had a corrosive effect. She felt neglected, I never felt I could let my proverbial hair down, and no one was happy about it. Not every week (although that is not too much for your one and only to ask for while he or she supports you through law school) but more than once a semester, take your beau out on the town. Dinner? A movie? Bowling? A drink at your favorite club, pub, or microbrew. It doesn’t matter where you go, as long as you make a point to go somewhere and focus on the object of your affection for an entire evening. You’re in law school, so of course you’re on a budget. No problem. A quiet night in with Netflix and a homemade pizza can be an amazing getaway that will help you stay connected.

Unexpected Contact

Now that law school, and all of the psychological damage that comes with it, has become the new normal in your life, and the life of your sweetheart, it’s important to surprise them from time to time. Of course, flowers, candy, a gift, or some other token of your affection is great, but for my wife, nothing hits her in the heart muscle like an unprovoked, unexpected text in the middle of the day with the simple message of “I love you, I miss you, and you have just crossed my mind.” That simple gesture can go a long way to maintain the positivity between you and your flame.

Decompression

Everyone gets stressed. We all need to unwind and decompress. In the context of a law school love affair, this is a critical element to the success of your romance. Take a little time for yourself to wash the rigors of law school off and prepare to focus on your beloved. Go to the gym, walk home from campus, meditate, whatever it takes to get your head right before you reconnect with your paramour. I promise this is critical for positive interaction when it counts. Carrying your stress-filled law school baggage into your relationship at the end of the day is a recipe for a permanent listing on Tinder, Hinge, or Bumble.

Can I Get a Little Hanky-Panky?

This is an obvious one, but one of the most logical ways to connect with your dearest, and to reduce all kinds of law school stress, is affection. Intimacy with your boyfriend, girlfriend, or whatever label you use is all but guaranteed if you make a little time for some much-needed “adult napping.” Law school is hard; intimacy is a great release.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Focus on your person. Don’t make it all about law school, but definitely let them be part of the journey. Take time to concentrate on your relationship and it will have a much better chance for survival all the way through the bar exam. Remember, maintaining a healthy, happy, and supportive relationship, with whatever label you attach to it, can help you find success throughout law school. My wife has been, without a doubt, my cheerleader, confidant, coach, support network, and shoulder when things got really rough. Don’t take your significant other for granted. If you do, you will likely find yourself alone.


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About Mark Livingston

Mark earned a B.Sc. in Criminology and Sociology from Ball State University, a M.Sc. in Criminology from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and a Master of Philosophy in Russia, Central, and Eastern European Studies from the University of Glasgow in Scotland. He is earning his JD at the University of Valparaiso School of Law. Mark worked for more than 10 years in state and local government in the areas of emergency management, law enforcement, and probation. Mark is a veteran of the United States Army Reserve.

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