What to Consider Joining a Graduate Program While in a Relationship

relationship tips for graduate school


It’s true - when in a graduate program you may barely feel like you have no time for
yourself let alone someone else, yet plenty of partners and married couples make it
through when implementing mindful practices that incorporate both of your feelings.
Approaching the end of my time here at Bastyr has led me to reflect on some important
truths I wish someone had talked to me about before committing to a full-time program
while in a relationship.

It’s easy to go about your day, oftentimes a grueling and long one, prioritizing the
needs of your schedule and your patients over your own. By the time the day ends and
you get home, the only thing you do for yourself might be eating a hearty meal, and
sometimes that doesn’t even happen. There are many days when it feels impossible to
pour anymore from your own cup.

This is where self-care and transparent communication come into play. If I could go
back and tell myself anything relating to relationships prior to embarking on the journey
of graduate school, it would be these three things:


Sit down and discuss the process of what it means to be a graduate student.

Let them in on your inner world, your schedule, and the demands of your day-to-day. At the beginning of every quarter, I give my partner my schedule. We are lucky in that he is able to work hybrid, meaning he’s in the office half the time and at home the other half. This is a tremendous help when it comes to caring for our dog, household duties and planning meals. On longer days when I need more support, he ensures that everything is taken care of. On my shorter days, I take on more responsibility so that he feels the work is even and reciprocated. Sharing your schedule with your partner also allows for them to know where you may be at emotionally, as longer days can be fairly taxing and you may need to have some time to yourself. Letting your partner in on your day-to-day life lessens the chance they will be upset or offended when you don’t have time to spend with them.

Prioritize time for yourself.

In order to be able to show up for your partner, you must put yourself first. The old
saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup” has withstood the test of time because it
holds so much truth. If you don’t tend to your needs first, your partner will feel that in the
ways you do or don’t show up for them. It’s likely there will be an unspoken hint of

Even if it’s taking a moment to decompress with some TV/book time, a nice long warm
shower, or a ten minute walk, taking time to recharge after being in school or clinic all
day is critical so that you can be your best for those who matter most to you.

Create intentional time with your partner.
No matter how busy you may be, there’s always time to carve out intentional time with
your partner. This could vary greatly depending on what it is you enjoy doing together. A
date night could be anything from walking the dog to your local park, hitting up a
restaurant or brewery, or going to the movies. Your partner deserves to feel valued, as
they also make a lot of sacrifice being committed to someone who has so much going
on academically. From my experience, small gestures of affection make a huge
difference in the overall health of the relationship.
I hope you gained something of value from this post, even if it was just a friendly
reminder of some core components of a health partnership. They are all small gestures
that create a huge difference!


By: Ivy Garrett, Master of Science in Acupuncture Student