Back in April, I finished my first year in my doctoral program and I can honestly say, I got more than I bargained for. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy, but damn! The waking up early, staying at work late, writing just to rewrite, and all just sucked to be real. There were a few moments where I wanted to just quit the program (someone told me if you never think about quitting at least once in your doctoral program, you breezing on by), but the long-term thinking kicked in. I’d sit at the computer for sometime just thinking about all the other things that I could be doing instead of writing a paper: listening to music, dancing, cleaning, or just sleeping! To make matters worst, the Queen is also in a doc program and we struggle together all the time. Hell, its to the point where we argue in theories now!
Out of everything that I’ve learned (and continue to learn) in my program, there’s two things that I believe will not only carry me in life, but also in my marriage: the first is to “touch your work EVERYDAY”. In the first semester, one of my faculty members assigned a lot reading and made sure that we wrote lengthy, critically analyzed papers (much to the chagrin of my cohort) and it was frustrating at times. How did we make it manageable? She always said to “touch your work EVERYDAY”! Not once a week, but damnit, EVERYDAY! It didn’t have to be for hours at a time, but at least 30 minutes whether reading or writing, I had to dedicate 30 minutes. Now, I was honest with her and said I didn’t touch the work EVERYDAY, but I was close to it. As I reflect on my impending nuptials, this phrase keeps coming to my mind: TOUCH YOUR WORK EVERYDAY! Substitute the words, “TOUCH” and “WORK” and insert “LOVE” and “SPOUSE”!
“LOVE YOUR SPOUSE EVERYDAY”
Not in that way you sickos (there’s more to marriage than just that), but in every area: emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, financially. Granted, I’m not married yet, but one thing I’ve realized from talking to my “marriage role models” is marriage is hard as hell for a variety of reasons. I’m going to want to quit at times, but making sure I put in the energy each day to connect with my spouse is critical. Paying attention to the words that are said, but even more important are the words that aren’t spoken. I’m sure there will be days when I’m going to be too tih’d and vice versa, but we have to keep at it. Attending counseling taught me that there is more than one way to show and give love on a much deeper level compared to our trivial belief of love. THAT AGAPE LOVE! How can I “love my spouse” when she’s spiritually drained? Or better yet, when she’s tih’d of work? It’s not easy, but if I can put forth the effort for my doctorate, why can’t I do it for the one I love?
“Move your furniture around”
During the first week of classes, the director of our program had an interesting perspective on the doctoral journey that he beautifully put into a metaphor. He told us to imagine being in your house or apartment with all of the furniture that we currently have in our living room. The doctoral program is a new huge couch that you have to configure into your home (life). You’ll put some stuff in storage (events), move the TV (hobbies) into your study, and even throw out those old items (friends) that you’ve been wanting to do for ages. Those “items” are super important to us, however, to progress along the journey, we have to do what’s best for us. You’ll have to miss a couple of birthday parties or not talk to your homie on your regularly scheduled night. It’s about the greater good of getting an assignment completed. That’s how I’m envisioning my marriage. It’s bigger than me. Yes, we’ve been together for awhile, however, we both have to navigate our new identity as a married couple (couch). We’ll move stuff around and take stuff out as we learn to come together as one. As we embark on this journey together, we have to learn how to sacrifice people, places, or things that are important to us for the betterment of US. It’s going to be hard, but you gotta keep your house clean!
Marriage is not for the faint of heart and should be taken seriously. All the OGs in my life shared that this next step is going to be rough at some points, but the key is the push through. Recognizing that its a difficult road that’s not for everyone, I’m going to be moving furniture around as needed while ensuring that I’m loving my spouse with that agape love. Who would’ve thought that my scholarly life would help me with my love life?!