Law School Discussion

Advice on how to be a good S.O. to a law student!

Advice on how to be a good S.O. to a law student!
« on: February 25, 2008, 02:59:02 PM »
Hello there,

I'm not a law student, but am dating a man who will be one starting this upcoming fall. While perusing topics and trying to educate myself on the stress he will go through, I decided I would like to know from first hand accounts what I could do to a) make his time in law school less stressful outside the classroom and b) make sure our relationship doesn't become another law school victim.

Anyways, I need tips and advice from seasoned pros, or those who wish their current/past significant others would have done something different. We made our relationship work through grad school with great ease but I suspect law school will be very different. Your thoughts are certainly appreciated!

Re: Advice on how to be a good S.O. to a law student!
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2008, 03:09:30 PM »
First, don't let a bunch of a-holes tell you that law school is a definite relationship killer, because it only tests strong relationships and destroys the weak ones.  My fiance and I survived a move in to a new city away from friends and family and law school all at once.  It was tough, but I know that she made my law school experience that much more fulfilling.  Basically, if you want to help, just give him space when he needs it, two to three weeks leading up to finals.  Also, when he snaps and maybe yells at you, take it with a grain of salt, and don't let it escalate.  Other than that, I would suggest remiding him every once in a while that law school isnt everything.  Take him out of the law environment and get him drunk or take him on a short 3 day vacation.
Good luck!  If you make through this you will make it through anything.

Re: Advice on how to be a good S.O. to a law student!
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2008, 03:09:55 PM »
As a law student with a wonderful S.O. all I can say is that you need to be understanding.  He probably will not have as much mental energy to devote to the relationship, which usually results in feelings on your side that he is not as interested in what you have going on in your own life as he once was.  Also, be prepared for the physical exhaustion - sex does take a bit of a back seat.  Other than that there isn't much a loving partner has to change when dealing with the stresses of law school.  Just try to understand what he is going through, and recognize that you probably won't understand most of the time.  Encourage him a lot, and remember that it only lasts a little while.  Good luck to the both of you.  :)  

Re: Advice on how to be a good S.O. to a law student!
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2008, 04:58:35 PM »
Make sure you don't make him feel bad when he can't make time for you because he has too much work to do. Also, don't take it the wrong way if he sometimes chooses to see his buddies instead of make the trip to see you, sometimes I just like to go have beers with my friends instead of see my girlfriend whenever i have a bit of free time. It's not a relationship killer, me and my girlfriend have done well so far. Is it hard? yes, very. But i'm really glad to have someone who I can see who takes me completely out of the law school environment

Re: Advice on how to be a good S.O. to a law student!
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2008, 02:48:27 PM »
There is no doubt that law school is challenging for couples, but it's definitely not a "relationship killer."  Both people just have to keep their perspective, try to communicate, and try to make the best of a frustrating situation.  Just a few things from my experience:

1) Make sure that the two of you are on the same page before it begins.  This includes a lot of considerations when starting something as overwhelming as law school. You may want to think about things like when you will try to make time for each other (one day a week? A little bit each night?), where/how he expects to do most of his studying (Early in the morning? Late nights at the school?), where/how he plans to spend his summers (Study abroad? Move to a different city for an SA position?), etc.  Some of this stuff may seem really trivial, but it can be surprising how quickly the little "oh, I thought you would come home at night to do your studying" moments can add up when the stress piles on.

2) It's only temporary.  Remember that law school goes in four month sprints for three years.  Between semesters, you can usually relax and reconnect, and when it's all done and he's passed the bar, it's over.  Try not to get too narrowly focused when November rolls around, he's in the library all day, and it seems like you barely know him.  The semester always ends and he will be back.

3) Make sure it's only temporary. This kind of goes with #1, but is more related to post law school.  If you find that the busy schedules and nights away are extremely stressful, you may want to make sure that your SO isn't aiming for a big firm, big money job.  Make sure that you're on the same page about where this is all going, and discuss whether your SO is planning on becoming an 80 hr/wk slave to the law for life.  If so, consider whether this is the life that you want as well, because that, unlike law school, does not usually end. 

4) Take an interest.  Remember that your SO is going into an immersive program, in which he is expected to eat, sleep and breathe the law.  For awhile, it will be all he wants to talk about, and every conversation will somehow relate back to it.  First, remember that this is also temporary and is part of the process of joining this little cult.  Second, when this is going on, take a little interest and ask some questions.  He will be happy to work through his understanding of the material and you will get a window into his world. After that, kindly remind him to shut the hell up and listen while you talk about your day :-)

5) Remember, as hard and frustrating as it is for you, it's no picnic for him either.  This does not mean that he is justified in ignoring you, or taking his stress out on you, but it does mean that you need to cut him a little bit of slack if he's not always there 100%.  Just try to remember that he will be under a mountain of stress, and that he would much rather be spending time with you than stuck in the library with his nose in his books.  That stress is exponentially larger when you know that there is a significant other at home growing more irritated by the minute.  You don't have to feel bad for asking for some of his time, but when he is doing his best and there is just no time left in the day, try to be understanding.

Just remember that law school is a big exercise in artificially induced stress and contrived competition.  There are times when it will be difficult for both of you, but eventually life will move on and law school will be a speck in the rear view.  Spend as much time together as you can, and enjoy the ride!

Re: Advice on how to be a good S.O. to a law student!
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2008, 04:04:02 PM »
Law School is not stressful & I'm not sure how it came to be assumed that it is stressful. I would say that I spend 80% of my law-school related time studying at my desk, and there's nothing too stressful about that. Law School is time consuming, but I'm not sure how time consumption got mixed up with stress. The very first final exam is a little stressful because you don't know what to expect, but after that they become just like any other exam. The hunt for summer jobs can also be a bit stressful, but so long as you take initiative and get an early start it will end quickly.

As for helping out your significant other: (1)refrain from nagging him and give him space to study when needed; (2) scrub his back in the shower; (3) cook him healthy meals and the occasional chocolate cake; (4) make sure he has adequate lighting when reading; (5) if he likes using a specific type of pen, don't steal them and make sure you have some extras sitting around in case the one he's using goes dry.

Finally, as for law school being a "relationship killer." I'm currently in law school and my significant other is in medical school. The average person would assume that this would kill our chance at survival, but in reality it has made our relationship stronger. There is a parable that adequately represents my point:
An old bull & a young bull are sitting at the top of a hill overlooking a meadow full of cows. The young bull says to the old bull, "let's run down there and f**ck one of those cows!" The old bull looks at the young bull and replies, "No, let's walk down there and f**ck all of those cows."

The moral of the story is that it's all about leverage. Law School is nothing compared to the reality that the majority of adults face on a daily basis. Law school is difficult for those ninnies that have never worked a day in their lives and have had everything provided to them by their parents. Otherwise, law school is a walk in the park.


Re: Advice on how to be a good S.O. to a law student!
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2008, 04:28:05 PM »
Definitely be understanding and all the stuff everyone else has mentioned. I'd say that more concrete things are also very important. My SO does almost all the laundry, cleaning, and cooking now. It means A LOT that I don't have to devote my weekend to chores. I know you're not living together, but if you have time to sneak into his house sometimes and tidy up, I'm sure he'd really appreciate that.

My SO is great about giving me space, but there are times that I wish he would be more understanding when I'm grumpy.

Re: Advice on how to be a good S.O. to a law student!
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2008, 05:11:55 PM »
I agree with some of the advice here, particularly TheReasonableMan's, and particularly TheReasonableMan's point 3.

But just to school just shouldn't be taking up all of his time. There is no need to become your SO's maid, and in fact you should encourage him to keep taking care of himself the same as he did before law school began.

Re: Advice on how to be a good S.O. to a law student!
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2008, 06:12:38 PM »
I reread my post, and it probably did seem like I was saying that you should clean up after your SO.  That's just the division of labor that we've developed at my house, because my SO has more free time than I do and it's more fun for both of us if my free time can be spent doing things other than dishes.  I agree that school shouldn't take up all of his time, but do realize that it is a big time comittment, and (if he's like me), any free time that he has will be highly valued.

Re: Advice on how to be a good S.O. to a law student!
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2008, 08:26:14 PM »
Thank you all for your encouraging words and thoughtful advice so far!

Though I won't be going to law school with him, I have taken a great interest in what he will experience there. I'm excited for him to be going on to this stage in his life.

Thanks again!