Ring (before) spring
Couples balance education with life as newlyweds
Published: Monday, September 16, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 16, 2013 22:09
With classes, student organizations and jobs, college life can be hectic. When students add a marriage to the mix, life can become a unique balancing act.
After a 10-month engagement, senior communication major Laura Jackson was married this summer. Jackson commutes from her apartment in Houston to College Station to finish her last nine hours of school before graduating in December, while her husband Bryan works full-time in Houston.
“I don’t feel like a college student anymore,” Jackson said. “I am in a unique position because I am commuting from Houston every Tuesday and Thursday so I am not even in the college environment. School is kind of just about graduation now.”
Jackson said finishing school is all that matters now and that she has mentally “checked out.” Because many of her friends are not yet married, Jackson said they don’t always know how to relate to her.
“I would say that some of my relationships with my friends have changed,” she said. “I am just in such a different stage of life than most people, so some people get it and understand and others just don’t know what to do with me.”
Jackson said married life and school makes for a difficult schedule, but she is happy with the outcome of her decisions.
“I am pretty happy,” she said, “I never planned on being married in school but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It definitely does make it harder, so it is just a matter of what your priority is. I would say that if you are with the right person then it is totally worth it, even if it does make things harder.”
Now that Jackson is living with her husband, she said small aspects of life are changing.
“I am not really allowed to have as many cute decorations,” she said. “I also make a lot more food.”
Senior interdisciplinary studies major Heather and senior civil engineering major Justin Lambert were married this June and are still attending school together. Heather said changing her last name has been an ordeal with school documentation.
“Changing my social security card and my drivers license, that took a long time,” Heather said. “You have to get your marriage certificate back to prove your new last name.”
Living expenses can become an issue in any marriage, but tuition and fees associated with college can sometimes add even more stress.
“Our parents are paying for our school still,” Heather said. “That was kind of a deal we worked out. Our parents said they would pay for school if we paid for everything else.”
Heather and Justin both said trying to balance their identities as students and a married couple has left them feeling a little lost.
“Our lives are just different now — you are kind of in this weird limbo,” Heather said. “In church we changed our small group so that now we are with married couples but that means we’re not really getting to meet college students anymore. We’re in between phases.”
Justin said their college friends don’t always understand how to relate to them or that he and his wife can still spend separate time with their friends.
“Our friends don’t understand that we can do things individually,” Justin said. “Just because we’re married doesn’t mean we can’t be separate. We’re not Siamese twins.”
Even though the situation may present challenges unique to married students, Justin said he was comfortable with his decision as both his parents and grandparents married early.
“I was a lot more willing to go through the process because of my background,” Justin said. “Both of my parents were married in college — my dad’s parents were married in college and my mom’s parents were married in between high school and college. For us, if you find the one, you don’t wait for things to get easier. When you know it, you do it.”
Both Heather and Justin have part time jobs and emphasized the importance of having a financial plan before marriage, particularly when still in school.
“If we didn’t know what we were doing then [marriage] would be really overwhelming while in school, trying to also figure out our finances,” Heather said. “By the time we got married we knew we could do this and we knew it was a good decision.”
In June, Chelsea Grams, genetics graduate student, married senior agricultural leadership and development major Mitchel Grams. She said making time for one another while also getting schoolwork done can prove challenging.
“Having enough time for both school and each other is important,” Chelsea said. “We make sure we’re not neglecting each other.”
Mitchel is a member of the Corps of Cadets, which Chelsea said has become easier for him after marriage.
“This has been easy for him because he doesn’t have to do morning formations anymore — he doesn’t have to go to as many Corps things,” Chelsea said. “People also get sick very easily in the Corps when you’re living with all of those people so he is excited because he won’t be getting sick as much.”
Chelsea said being married while in school can be a challenge, but she finds it manageable and rewarding.
“If you’re in love,” she said, “it’s the most important thing.”