(**Text I wrote on 22 July 2019. Update on April 13th, 2021: the husband's PhD is still pending. But that might have to do with the expansion rate of our nuclear family of one child per year, and the awesome role he fulfills as a father.**)
According to experts, marrying a PhD student is in the top 5 causes of somatic death worldwide. Thus far, the Catholic Church has not issued an official teaching on whether the fact that your spouse is involved in doctoral acts or, even worse, is actually and formally pursuing the degree, forms a legitimate cause of nullity of marriage.
Are there any strategies to help you, innocent and guilt-free partner, survive this debilitating stage of life?
Expert and victim since 2012 Linde Declercq sheds her light on the matter.
Here are eight tips to survive marriage with a PhD student.
1. There isn’t going to be any real marriage for a couple of years
Accept this truth: abide by the plans of the Lord and have trust.
2. Have no expectations
Don’t expect the PhD to be finished in 1, 5 or 10 years. Also, don’t give in to the inclination to look forward to the final submission of the thesis. It won’t stop there. Eyewitness G., who chooses to stay anonymous: “There will be plans for publishing remaining working papers and setting up new academic alliances. In fact, it has only gotten worse since my husband's PhD defense.”
Try not to use violence when your spouse lastminute cancels your carefully planned family trip. And forcing your spouse to take an emergency course on time management is a bad idea anyhow.
Practice the virtue of loving your spouse madly without taking any of his words seriously.
3. Know that there are also positive sides
Such as, your husband willing to hang out two piles of laundry because he needs to “think” about an issue. Or the fact that you’re able to chat without interruption during dinner, put the Jen Fulwiler Show on loud, and paint the house in pink because your spouse is mentally 100% absent.
Tip for pros: during the time your husband is going through expert literature in bath, you can do plenty of amazing luxury shopping.
4. Don’t get mad
Don’t get mad when you’re assuming all household responsibilities on a weekend because your spouse has a conference deadline he will never make, and in the first workable moment he starts to tackle an issue concerning another paper.
At the moment of retirement, your spouse will be available again.
Well, after publication of the last remaining working paper.
5. Know how to read your spouse
‘Deadline’ means: a fixed target that will be trespassed. ‘I hope to finish it this week’ means your spouse will finish it somewhere next month. ‘Nearly’ means ‘not at all’. ‘Just some things’ means ‘all the things’. When hearing ‘then [referring to the moment when some excerpt has been submitted] I will have time’, an ear-piercing internal alarm should go off.
6. To God, nothing is impossible
He has risen His only begotten Son from the dead. Why wouldn’t He bring this PhD to a good end?
7. Accept that your spouse loves his PhD more than he loves you
When your spouse is in a very, VERY enthusiastic mode, don’t fall into the trap of thinking it has got something to do with you. It hasn’t got anything to do with you. He’s just got another Idea That Will Uplift The PhD To An Unseen Level.
8. It’s all contributing to your holiness
God loves you greatly by sending you such a spouse to sanctify you. You will be a saint!
And for the insiders, some real advice.
It’s a tough period for your spouse, and he or she needs your unconditional support. There will be times your husband or wife thinks his or her work is fantastic and times where he’ll think it’s worthless, and God has placed YOU with your spouse to balance those extremes. Be understanding when your spouse is bad-tempered or nervous. Don’t get mad when he’s stressed out. Be sweet to your spouse. The sacrament of marriage contains all the necessary graces for you to deal with this situation!
It'll only become really tough when you stop making jokes about it all.