During Admissions’ Weekend for Women event for prospective students, the Association of Women in Business (AWIB) hosts several panels. One of them focuses on balancing relationships while pursuing an MBA, and I had the opportunity to sit on the panel last year and this year. I’ve enjoyed not only learning about my classmates’ journeys with their partners, but also sharing my story.
I continue to be in awe of all the different situations my classmates are balancing along with coursework and extracurricular activities. Some students have children in Durham with them, some have children on the other side of the country and sometimes on the other side of the world. Some classmates have their partners in Durham, others don’t. I think for every type of situation, I can name at least one person who is tackling that balancing relationship act!
Personally, my fiancé (we got engaged at the beginning of my second year!) lives across the country in Colorado, and we’ve been long distance for the past five and a half years, so we’ve definitely had practice. In talking to my classmates and learning from my own experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are a few pieces of advice that I would offer:
1. Set Expectations
I was fortunate that my fiancé began his MBA a year before I did, so he knew what to expect when I started my first year. I was in the middle of tackling class materials, attending various recruiting events, and participating in extracurricular activities. It seemed that I was always on the go with barely a free moment to spare, and having him understand that there would be days where I might not be able to talk until later at night helped to relieve any stress that might have stemmed from trying to make sure I wasn’t ignoring him.
I would recommend that everyone with a partner get connected with a Fuqua partner to understand what a partner should expect while his or her significant other is in business school. Also, I found that talking through my schedule helped my fiancé understand what my day looked like.
2. Find Time for Your Partner
Balancing relationships can be a challenge. Business school will seem all encompassing at times, but never forget that your partner is there to support you as well! I made an effort, to at the very least, call my fiancé before I went to bed each night so that we could catch up and hear about each other’s day. One of my classmates actually put a reminder on her calendar to call her husband at a certain time each day. I found that having someone to share my day with (and vent at times) was a great stress reliever since my fiancé could offer an unbiased viewpoint.
3. Talk About Your Partner and Situation
On my Consequential Leadership (C-LEAD) team, two students have families in Durham with them while a few of us have long-distance relationships. When we wrote our team charter, we talked about our different situations and how that might affect our team. By taking the opportunity to share and talk about our partners, we understood that my teammates with families wanted to avoid meeting on the weekends so that they could spend time with their families, while those of us with long-distance relationships could go on weekend trips. Even more, talking to my other classmates has allowed me to commiserate.
Business school is an incredible two-year development opportunity, and while balancing relationships might seem daunting at times, it’s absolutely possible! The supportive and welcoming Fuqua community definitely has made it easier to do so.