The question: Is it possible to loathe academia and still love an academic?

And beyond that, is it possible for a couple, one a dedicated social activist and the other a brilliant academic with hopes of eventually leaving the academy, not only to survive a doctoral program, but to grow together and to thrive throughout its duration?

Welcome to the anxiety-ridden, yet hopelessly optimistic thoughts that have been running through my head ever since the love of my life (whom I will refer to as "Summa Cum Laude" or SCL) told me he wanted to apply to a doctoral program. Those thoughts have steadily invaded more and more of my brain ever since SCL was accepted to his program of choice.

This weekend I (aka "The Non Student" or TNS) celebrated with friends and family as SCL graduated from his master's program. Following the emotional waves of pride and joy and the inevitable exhaustion following any such event, I found myself this morning filled with the anxiety of the unknown. Up until now I had been able to focus on SCL finishing this degree, but now I'm facing the fear of what's next. We are facing serious transitions in the coming months.
  • Moving to a new city
  • Moving in together
  • TNS starting a new job
  • SCL starting a doctoral program

These are just the big four, not to mention all of the other smaller transitions involved. And frankly, I'm scared. I'm excited, but I am equally, if not more, scared out of my mind.

When fear and/or anxiety sets in for me, I do what I know other people do. I google things. I have googled "dating a graduate student" which led to a lot of inappropriate conversations about professors and students dating. Not helpful. I tried "relationships and PhD programs" which resulted in conversations about advisors and dissertations. And then I landed on this little bit of despair from the New York Times. Finding out it was written in 1988 only slightly eased my worries.

Besides discovering the questionable morals of some academics and reading a doomsday account of graduate students' divorce rates, I have not uncovered much in terms of resources for couples facing the life of a doctoral program for God knows how many years. What I have found is doctoral students talking about the all-consuming nature of their work and how alienated their significant others feel during the process. But I have found next to nothing for the spouses/partners/significant others of those doctoral candidates. Hence, the new blog.

My vision for this blog is for it to be a place for community and resources for couples, but especially for the non-academic halves like me, going through the hardships of a PhD program. Whether you're dating a grad student or have been married to one for a long time (in which case I would love your insight!), I very much look forward to getting to know you!

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