Grieving a Plan


I am a planner.

I like to put order and organization into my life. I am also creative and spontaneous, and if I start a project, I often find myself bored of it half way through, needing a distraction before finishing. (Thus, I am a fantastic multi-tasker. And, sadly, have a load of projects I’ve started and not finished to prove it).

But, back to the planning.

I think I can safely say that we all have ‘plans’ for our lives. Some plans have worked out, some have not; some have been painful, some joyous, and others just downright crazy. As a graduate wife, I’ve placed my plans on hold, given some of my plans up, and accomplished others with perfection. Each plan represented pieces of me, often lessons learned, and in almost every way made me who I am today. My father calls that character building.

I’ve written before about my ‘plan’ to be home with my son, and how that hasn’t worked out. Instead, that plan has handed me a career at an amazing company. I’ve watched other graduate wives forgo their own academic plans for the loves of their life. That plan handed them a supporting role, often without any structure or sense, causing a massive shift of identity that leaves more questions than answers.

Recently, while running with a friend, I lamented one of my life plans that hadn’t developed in the timely manner I wanted and expected it to. As she listened to me process it aloud, hearing and feeling my pain, she then said, “Maybe you need time and space to allow yourself to grieve your plan.”

The power of her words absolutely pierced me. I hadn’t thought of an unmet plan as something to be grieved; I mostly just thought of it as a disappointment to be discarded of before moving on to the next thing. The life of a graduate wife necessitates sacrifice, often forcing us to bypass our own emotional well being because we’re operating in survival mode: bills need to be paid, jobs worked, kids taken care of, lunches made, clothes laundered, the house cleaned, and last but not least, a husband/ fiancé/partner to be emotionally supported.

It doesn’t leave much time for our own emotional well being, so we move on.

After my run, I spent some time thinking about what it means to grieve a dream or a plan that doesn’t work out, and what that means for me. I allowed myself to feel the pain from the loss of that life plan, even though the crushing weight of sadness was immense.

But, what does that look like going forward? I’m finding it’s a daily process, and sometimes I take three steps forward, and then four backwards. But, in the process, I’m learning, growing, and taking care of my emotional self.

I’ve identified some of the ways I’m grieving, although admittedly, it looks different everyday.

Journaling. I am not what you would call a journaler.  But I do find writing to be therapeutic. By articulating on paper the inner turmoil or sadness I’m feeling, it helps me identify places I am healing, and places I’m still struggling.

Friendship.  I’ve identified two people in my life to walk me through this process. I use them as sounding boards, airing my frustrations when and if I need to. Other than that, I don’t talk about it with others.

Crying. It feels silly to write that, as I am not a particularly emotional person. But, I’ve found in the last few months that keeping that extra emotion bottled up doesn’t help me. It’s good to let it out once in awhile.

Prayer.  I know not everyone who reads this blog shares the same beliefs as I do. I’m okay with that. But I can honestly say that my faith has played an enormous part in my graduate wife journey. I cannot even pretend to separate the two. So, I find prayer to be soothing, and I don’t hesitate to ask God, “Why?” sometimes. It helps me to know He is listening, and it is often a reminder that there is something larger than myself working around me.

Spouse. Given that I’m an internal processor, it was awhile before I could bring myself to explain this process to my husband. When I did though, he was supportive, and affirming. He continues to be, often giving me the space I need to heal.

My heart is hopeful that I will see my plan actualized one day, but if it isn’t, I am glad that I will be able to look back and identify a time in my life where I learned to let it go.

As a graduate wife, what are you doing to grieve the unmet plans in your life?


Expectations · Moving · Sacrifice

The Courage of Exploration

                                                                                             written by Sarah – a current graduate wife

So there I was, sitting at a cheap, plywood table in Newcastle England, starting blankly into a MacBook, more than 3,000 miles away from where I wanted to be.

How did I get so far off course, you might ask? Well, pull up a chair and lend an ear. My story is one a graduate wife can appreciate.

Some of you might remember what it is like to have a great career. I can still hear the hum of the printing press and feel the thick tension in the air as I tried to get a newspaper out on deadline. As a reporter and editor for our local newspaper the days were 100 mile-per-hour marathons, both exhilarating and exhausting. Since I was a little girl I had dreamed of this career. Every extra-curricular activity, internship and my university education had been strategically designed to make me a super reporter.

In my early 20s, I had almost made it. I was an editor at the local paper. The job title, awards and offers proved that I had become a small town Lois Lane. But I was aiming higher.

Then I met my husband.

He was intelligent, ambitious, a Matt Damon look-alike, and I was in love. He was also applying for medical school.

After a year of dating and applying for schools, we were married. On our one month anniversary he was accepted to a medical program – out of the country. We would be moving once a year for the first four years of our marriage, or more if fellowships and residencies dictated.

Like a monkey wrench thrown into the cogs of a printing press, my dreams came to a grinding halt. For this next season of our lives it would either have to be his career or mine on the chopping block – we couldn’t do both. With a few tears, I carefully packed up our unopened wedding gifts, cleaned off my desk and moved to England. I doggedly looked for a job. Anything. Sadly, there were no jobs there in newsroom administration, especially for a transient who would stick around for less than a year. This foreigner couldn’t make headway in the reporting business either – I didn’t know a bobby from a bodge.

Do you ever feel resentment for the sacrifices you have been asked to make?

My bitter tears and empty days alone in a foreign country were poison to my budding marriage. I knew I needed to find an antidote.

A wise comedian, who also found himself 3,000 miles from where he wanted to be, once said, “There are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized.” Conan O’Brien might have been speaking to graduating academics at Dartmouth, but his words resonated with me. He continues:

“I went to college with many people who prided themselves on knowing exactly who they were and exactly where they were going. At Harvard, five different guys in my class told me that they would one day be President of the United States. Four of them were later killed in motel shoot-outs. The other one briefly hosted Blues Clues, before dying senselessly in yet another motel shoot-out. Your path at 22 will not necessarily be your path at 32 or 42. One’s dream is constantly evolving, rising and falling, changing course.”

As a newly-minted graduate wife, change was my only constant and adaptation my only antidote.

Somewhere in that foreign London fog of change and hopelessness, I started trying new things. I explored. I blogged. I taught myself how to design a website. I adapted.

Fredrick Nietzsche famously said “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” But what he failed to stress is that it almost kills you. The loneliness, the disrupted career path and the stress in my marriage almost killed me. But for those who are stuck in the middle of that mire, I promise that on the other end of your effort there is peace.

My blank stare into that MacBook on that plywood table in that cold, dreary place turned into a journey of exploration. But only because I made it so. Conan was right – there is nothing more exhilarating than having your life flipped on its head and, through your own sheer force of will, flipping it right side up again. When you finally straighten things out, your dreams might look a little different. But because you were the one to do the changing, somehow those new dreams are alright.

Sacrifice became what I made it. It was still painful, but only as painful as I would allow it to be between the bouts of blogging and exploring.

We have survived our second move now and are tripping blissfully and blindly into year three of marriage and year two of his late night, blood-shot eye studying. We have learned that those who adapt, survive. I am a survivor.

What strategies have you found successful in your transition to a graduate wife?

Expectations · Family · Inspiration · Marriage · Moving · Patience

The Glad Game

                                                                                                                       written by Stephanie – a current graduate wife

The movie Pollyanna has forever been one of my all-time favorites.   Pollyanna played “The Glad Game,” and her eternal optimism infected everyone around her.  Even in the face of adversity, she believed that there was always SOMETHING you could find to be glad about.  I think we could all learn a little something from Miss Pollyanna Whittier. As a graduate wife, I have tried to adopt this philosophy as best I can.

My husband Josh is now amid his second year of medical school at St. George’s University in the Caribbean.   His first year was spent in Newcastle, England as part of the Global Scholars Program.   We had been married for only 4 weeks when we boarded that international plane to the United Kingdom.  Talk about a whirlwind first year.  It took me months to feel connected to anything and anyone in England and by the time it started to feel a little bit like “home,” it was time to uproot and move again, this time to the 22 mile long island of Grenada.   We will leave Grenada in May 2012 headed for hospital rotations in the States, but we won’t know exactly where we are going until weeks before we go.   Two years of rotations, God willing in the same place, will only be followed by a residency that will more than likely move us yet again.  I try to take each day as it comes, because thinking too far into the future only gives me a panic attack.  Not having a place that I can really call “home” is challenging.  I sometimes envy the graduate wives who get to, at the very least, stay in the same place for the duration of their husband’s schooling.

GLAD:  At only 25 years old, I am GLAD that I have had the opportunity to do this much traveling so early on in my life.   I’m GLAD that I get to experience all of these exotic places with my best friend.  It’s not a vacation like so many assume, but it IS a once in a lifetime experience.

Medical school is no walk in the park.  Josh studies ALL the time and there are many nights where I eat alone, watch romantic comedies by myself, and go to bed solo.  Date nights are often canceled because there just aren’t enough hours in the day to study.  Many holidays and birthday celebrations have to be put off because finals are only days away.  I do all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping.  I manage our finances, keep up with the financial aid paperwork, and stay in contact with our families and friends.  On my worst days, I feel like leaving and going home to California because after all, besides not having food in the fridge, a home cooked meal, or clean underwear, would he ever even notice I was gone?

GLAD:  I am GLAD that Josh is pursuing his dream of becoming a doctor and excelling in his classes, in part due to my support.  I am GLAD that having so much alone time has allowed me to take up hobbies that I always hoped I’d have time for.  I scrapbook, read, send letters to friends and family, exercise, participate in volunteer work, and started a blog

Most days of the year, we are thousands of miles away from our family and friends.  Last year we missed Thanksgiving, 4th of July, Easter, birthdays, friend’s weddings, family vacations, and so much more.  We see our families through Skype more often than we see them in person.   On top of that, we have nobody to run to when we are upset with each other, and nobody’s house to go to in order to get away for a little while.

GLAD:  There are times I am GLAD that we can’t run to anyone else when we are struggling with each other in our relationship.  It has forced us to work through our issues without the interference of our family and friends opinions.  When you live half way across the world from everyone you know, the only person to turn to is God and each other and because of that, our relationship has grown immensely this past year.

I didn’t go to graduate school.  Admittedly, this has been the hardest part for me in being a graduate wife.  There was a time when I was not going to be the graduate wife.   I was going to be the GRADUATE STUDENT.   I did all the work leading up to actually going to school.  I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology.  I did over 2,500 hours of work in the field.  I applied to more than 15 doctorate programs, wrote 13 essays, got the recommendation letters, filled out the applications, took the GRE, paid the money to apply, and went to the interviews.  My hard work paid off.  I got in to a Doctorate of Physical Therapy program in Southern California.  I even paid the deposit to hold my spot for the August 2010 class.  But when Josh got into school and the decision had to be made whether or not to follow my soon-to-be husband to England, or to go to school myself, I made the decision to follow him.  Unfortunately, there are times when my resentment creeps up.  Moments when I think to myself, “What if I was in school right now?”  “What if I wasn’t following Josh around the world?”

GLAD: I am GLAD that I made the decision I made.  While being a physical therapist was my dream career, I reasoned that school would always be there if I wanted to go back, but I could NEVER get my first few years of marriage back.  Being on this journey with Josh has allowed us to become closer to one another than I ever could have imagined.  We are growing together.  Every week, I see subtle changes in us, changes that, if we weren’t physically together, would seem HUGE later on.   While my career aspirations might have thrived while I was in school, my marriage would have suffered.  And so I am GLAD that I’m here, on an island, growing and changing together with my husband.

Sometimes, as a medical school wife, it’s really challenging to find the GLAD in any given situation and on any given day.  But it is there.  It’s always there.  It might be a really small thing to be glad about, but if you look hard enough, you will find it.  If you can at least find a little bit of GLAD then it helps make the bad not so bad anymore.  Try to find the “Pollyanna” in yourself on a daily basis and I guarantee you will be a happier graduate wife because of it.

Do you ever find yourself playing “The Glad Game” in order to make dark days seem less dark?  If so, what do you find to be GLAD about?

Expectations · Family · Inspiration · Sacrifice

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough


written by Lis – a current graduate wife

I really love when a new month starts on a Monday. In fact, I’d say it’s one of my absolute favorite things!

With August beginning in such a fantastic way, I just knew it was going to hold a lot of my favorite things.

Now, I admit that I am a girl who likes order and routine, so when I am out of that routine, I tend to get grumpy. That Monday’s morning routine was different: there wasn’t one.  And you know what? I couldn’t have been happier!

On that first August morning, Tim didn’t wake up and pack his red bag for school. Instead, he was still in bed at 10:00 a.m. He wasn’t sick, he wasn’t working at his desk, and he didn’t have his ear plugs in to help him focus on his studies: instead, the only thing he was studying was the little girl he was giving his undivided attention to. She was giggling, he was smiling, and I was counting my blessings.

We made it. We did it…again. One more semester behind us, and 29 days until we have to face the start of another one.

We spent the past week in Black Mountain, NC, and as I sat on top of that mountain and looked out to the tree-covered peaks in the distance (see attached pic), I was thankful. Even as I was resting on top of that mountain, I was already praying for the ones I know are yet to come. We have climbed three hard, long, and exhausting mountains: one for each semester of classes.  We have three times that many still to go, but the point is we have climbed and we have made it. And we can do it again.

The very thing I said was impossible, is proving to be possible.

We can do hard things.

I can.  He can.  She can too.

We are doing this together.  Together, we can get to each mountain top, rest, and get ready for the next mountain.

In my experience, graduate wives don’t realize the amount of stress and pressure that is on them until it’s gone. Until you are no longer living in the midst of the stress of tests, exams, projects, research papers, and finals, you don’t quite grasp how much it takes out of you. Often the graduate students themselves don’t recognize that they are being pulled in a hundred different directions and that while they fully intend to engage in everything they commit to, they really are not capable of giving any more than they already are; at least this is how it is in my home. When he spends time with us, Tim does his best to disengage from school and the pressures that medical school brings, but it’s still there. It’s still on his mind, it’s still a stress, it’s still a pressure or that nagging feeling of, “I should really be studying…”

But now that we have arrived at this mountaintop, the only question that has to be answered is “what do you want to do today?”  Sometimes the answer is, “nothing.”

The stress is melting off.  We needed this break, both individually and as a family.  We needed no time frame, no agenda. We needed a week with no internet, little cell phone service, and a lot of playing on the floor, eating together, playing games, and catching up on the “oh, did I tell you that…?”

I don’t know where you are on this journey of being a graduate wife. If you are only beginning, hear me say this to you: “You CAN do this!” The valleys are hard, exhausting, and will make your makeup run, but the mountaintops are beautiful and well worth the climb. Get some really cute, comfortable shoes and set out hand in hand with the person of your dreams to accomplish the very thing that only the two of you can do.

If you are finishing, hear me say this: “You made it! Great work!” (And I am jealous!)  Thank you for your dedication to this journey that we all have set out on.  Our individual paths are different, yet somehow the same. You are an example to me and the ones coming behind you. We need to know others have gone before and lived to tell about it! 

My goal for this journey isn’t just to survive, but to thrive. Not just to make it, but to run as fast as I can to the finish line saying, “if we hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have met, done, become, or grown the way I have,” and to say to my husband, “I hated you for making me do this, but now I am so glad you did.”

We can do this, we can survive, we can thrive, and we can eat a lot of chocolate along the way!!

The top of this mountain held other peaks waiting to be hiked, the laughs and screams that only white water rafting can bring, a baby asking to go and swing, and hundreds of lightning bugs that needed to be caught!

As you climb, don’t forget to count your blessings along the way–it is what will get you to the top and make the journey worth it–and when you do reach those vital mountaintops, don’t forget to share the joys you find there.

As a graduate wife, what mountains (classes, jobs, etc). are you currently climbing?

Expectations · Moving · Patience

Beyond Expectations


                                                                                                   Written by Bess – a current graduate wife


I’ve been thinking about expectations a lot lately and after reading Mandy’s post last week, here goes.

Before I was a Graduate Wife, I was a Military Spouse.  I married someone who had to move wherever the military told him.  I had to follow.  My career, friends, family all took a backseat to his job.  Our past couple of years looked something like this:

  • Pensacola, Florida—It sounded so dreamy to get married and move to the beach! How wrong I was.
  • Jacksonville, North Carolina—In the middle of nowhere.  Everyone kept telling me that I should be glad they at least had a Wal-Mart.  (words I never hope to hear again.) 
  • San Diego, California—Going from the east coast to the west coast was a huge culture shock, not to mention going from small town to big city.  I had my first child here and thankfully made some wonderful friends.
  • Norfolk, Virginia—I was furious to leave my beloved San Diego!  Soon after we arrived I tried to make the best of it and started a playgroup and made some friends right away.  We settled into a wonderful church and preschool family and had our second child here.
  • Oxford, England—Here is where the graduate wife journey began.  I have to say that overall, this move was the easiest, even though it was to a foreign country.  I have fallen into a town full of amazing people and am so thankful.

As you can see, I’ve been there, done that!  I’ve quit jobs I loved, left friends I loved, left houses I loved, and drove away crying from cities I loved.  I guess in many ways this year hasn’t been too difficult because it feels like I have become highly trained in many of the skills needed to survive as a Graduate Wife.  Some of the things I have learned along the way include:

  • Embrace a city, but never get too comfortable there.  It’s a hard balance to spread roots, but also be willing to pull them up when it’s time to move again if needed.
  • When you arrive in a new place, you need to find friends immediately!  Be proactive.  They will not come knocking on your door.
  • As much as your husband tells you that things will get easier at the next stage of life, they never really do.  You might as well figure out a way to be happy in whatever stage of life you are in.
  • Having kids far away from home is not easy, but it is possible.  Your nuclear family unit becomes very close.  Babysitters are a necessity.
  • When you move away, it’s much harder on the friends you left behind than it is on you.  They have the same life with a big you-sized hole in it.  You have a whole new life with lots of new friends to keep you busy.
  • It’s pretty darn cool having friends all over the world.
  • University towns are full of people who are interesting, smart, and eager to make new friends as well.  Take advantage of that!
  • You can live with way fewer belongings than you thought necessary.
  • Kids are resilient.  Moving to new towns, being on a budget, and traveling make them adaptable, interesting, and cool!
  • The world is really a small place.  Everywhere I go, I meet people with whom I can completely relate.

So back to expectations… you would think by now, I would have learned to “expect the unexpected.”  I still slip up.  I still catch myself thinking about where we could be right now if we hadn’t made the choices that have taken us all over the world.  Although it takes a while in my mind, I always come back to the conclusion that if we hadn’t started this journey, we would be really boring.  We would probably have stayed close to home.  We wouldn’t know much about all the different cultures we are grateful to know about now.  We wouldn’t have friends in South Africa, India, and Australia.  We might have close-minded ideas.  We might not have such interesting kids.  I might have the house of my dreams, the big car, the grandparents nearby, but I wouldn’t be as fabulous as I am now, living in student housing in a foreign country with no car.

So, my advice to you, my fellow graduate wife, is to go into your new situation with excitement and joy.  You will make amazing friends (remember to be proactive).  You will find people to relate to (even if it takes a while).  You will learn that you can easily love people who aren’t anything like you.  You will find that you actually don’t necessarily miss those expectations all that much (the big house, the big car, the country club.)  You will (hopefully and eventually) learn to love your fabulous, frugal, fulfilling life of a graduate student.  Even though you can’t control your life, even though you can’t predict the next month or even week, you can be grateful for the now and you can seize the opportunities around you.

In your graduate wife journey, how do you manage expectations?

Expectations · Family · Motherhood · Sacrifice

Great Expectations

It’s been a loooooooonnnnnnnggggg couple of weeks in our house.

Life hasn’t been easy, and we’ve been faced with some huge decisions that will ultimately effect the way our family currently operates. I wrote in a previous post that I was excited to start a new chapter.

Did I write that? On the internet? For everyone to see? Um, rewind please.

What I meant to write was this: “I’m so excited to start a new chapter, and I want the new chapter to be easier and better than the previous one, okay?”

Of course, I know and understand that life doesn’t work that way. Ever. You plan and plan and plan and plan and plan and then it rains on your wedding day, or you have 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife, and it all becomes a bit too ironic. (Did ANYONE break into Alanis Morrisette there? Please tell me I’m not the only one)!

One of those big decisions being thought out is my current work situation. I work full time. To be honest, on most days, I dislike it. Immensely. This is not how I imagined my life at age 34. If I reach deeply into the recesses of my tired Mommy brain, remembering at the tender age of 16, what I thought my life would look like at the very old age of 34 (and, in bullet points, no less), it would have read something like this:

  • Happily married, to a successful handsome husband
  • 3 kids running around (and I had them all before I turned 30, maintaining every chance of keeping a toned body)
  • House. Check. Decorated. Check. 2 car garage. Check. Vacations. Check.
  • Fabulous stay at home Mom, making other PTA moms jealous with my amazing baking skillz

My current life looks nothing like the above (with the exception of the happily married, to a successful handsome husband part). Most of my expectations have been shattered, on more than one occasion, and for most of the time, after the fact, I am glad they were.

But (you knew there would be a but!)….there is one expectation that I can’t let go of, that constantly nags at me:  I am not my son’s primary care giver. Which is fancy speak for ‘I wish I were a stay-at-home Mom.’

I am not bitter. I am not angry. I am not resentful. Although, I will admit that in the past, I have let those emotions take my heart hostage, and I’ve said some very mean and hateful things to the man who brought me on this journey. I knew this graduate wife journey would be difficult, but I never imagined the level of sacrifice it would take from me for my husband to pursue his dreams. Our lives seem to have a big ‘pause’ button written across most areas. I know it’s hard for me, but I know it’s equally as hard for my husband, as he watches me go off to work in service and support to our family, fully knowing that I’d rather be home taking care of our son.

On the positive side, in the last 7 years, I’ve been able to work for some amazing companies, connecting with some of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever met. I’ve grown in ways that I wouldn’t have had it not been for those experiences, and for that, I’m thankful. I know that even though this isn’t my first choice for my life, it’s absolutely what I’m supposed to be doing right now.

This morning, as I was trying to move myself and a very excitable toddler out the door to start our day, my husband stopped me and said, “Thank you for all you do to support our family, and for sacrificing your dreams to make it all happen. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it and how much I love you for it.”

I still have so much to learn about sacrificial love.

What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve had to make in your graduate wife journey?


Community · Expectations · Family · Moving · Sacrifice

There’s No Place Like Home

         Written by Amberly – a current graduate wife

Another year of holidays, family celebrations and special events have come and gone; and here I sit 900 miles away participating via Skype. Don’t misunderstand me; I am grateful for Skype every time the computer rings, but it is not quite the same as being in the same room with my family. Isn’t it everyone’s ideal Thanksgiving to stay awake until midnight just so you can see your family as they gather around the table eating foods you can’t even find in your local supermarket? (As a side note – did you know that you can make cornbread dressing with maize meal or that not all turkeys come with their internal organs already in a bag? This southern girl learned both lessons in 2006 when I attempted to make my first solo Thanksgiving dinner!)

This past Christmas was the first Christmas we didn’t go home. We had just returned to the UK in October and it didn’t make sense to fly back to Atlanta so quickly. When we made the decision, we thought it would be a good opportunity to begin our own traditions. We decorated and bought presents. Our families shipped so many gifts that we could barely walk through the living room without tripping. It all seemed to be going well until Christmas Eve….carols played on our computer, and we sat looking at each other realizing that we were alone. No amount of presents or tinsel could change the fact that our families were gathering together and we weren’t there to be with them.

Of course, it is not just holidays that can be hard; I’ve missed weddings, baby showers, funerals, birthdays, beach vacations, and family portraits. My little sister will graduate from college in two weeks, and I won’t be there to give her a hug that only a big sis can give. I don’t want to miss that day or my other sister’s 16th birthday, or when my brother brings his new girlfriend to meet the family. But, we aren’t the only ones missing things. Our families don’t have the daily privilege of seeing their only grandchild grow up.

With all of this in mind, you might be envisioning me writing while curled up in a ball under my duvet with a quart of ice cream. And I would be remiss if I lead you to believe that I don’t have days when that is exactly what I feel like doing. I am happy to say that those days are far and few between, and along the way I have learned a few things that might help someone else trying to come to terms with being separated from family.

Make a plan. With the busyness of life, it is easy to wake up one day and realize that you haven’t spoken with your parents in 2 weeks. Losing touch happens so quickly, even in some of our closest relationships. We make it a point to talk with our parents once a week on a specific day around the same time. While this worked for our parents, I have learned that every relationship is different and communication styles can be different. My siblings are all in school and keep crazy student hours so planning to Skype at a specific time is really impractical. Email, Facebook and our family blog all serve as vehicles to keep us in touch with one another. Find a way to communicate with each other and make it a priority.

Embrace your new home. No, it doesn’t make your family any closer, but when you accept your new life and find things big and small to enjoy, it makes the distance not feel quite as far. Find a church, a library, a coffee shop, a museum, a great restaurant, a bookstore – anything that makes you happy and allows you to begin to be connected to your new home. It can also help your family to know that you are settling in. My mom has said many times that knowing we are happy and content in our home helps her to not worry about us nearly as much.

Surround yourself with memories. I love to have family pictures in our home. We have moved a lot in the last 5 years and no matter where we are living, it doesn’t feel like our home until our pictures are around us.

Be honest. I really struggle with this at times. I want to present the perfect front to our families. I don’t want them to worry about us. Although I don’t think having an emotional breakdown every time we talk is helpful, I have had to learn that it is okay to let them know when I am struggling with being left out.

Develop new relationships. I could never replace my family or friends I have known for years. However, developing relationships in the places we have lived has made a huge difference in dealing with being separated from our old lives. We have had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world with different backgrounds. We would never have met them if we had not stepped into our new life. These relationships have shaped who we are today and I am incredibly grateful for every one.

Remember why you are separated from your families. When you are the supporting partner it can be difficult to remember what your spouse is doing, the pressures they are under and what the ultimate goal is. Remember why you made the decision for your spouse to pursue further education and what your long-term family goals are.

This is certainly not an exhaustive list and I am far from an expert. Being separated from family is never easy and it does take time to adjust. Know that if you are willing to make the effort it can be done without sacrificing the relationships that you cherish.

If you have found yourself relocated to a new place on your graduate wife journey, how do you handle being separated from your family and friends?

Expectations · Moving

You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello

It happens every year around this time.

By now, I should be prepared for it, as it’s happened on a regular basis for the last 7 years; but, somehow, like the annual birthday card I forgot to send, it’s popped up again and caught me completely off-guard.

Another friend is saying goodbye to us. This chapter of her journey in our daily lives has come to a close, and she and her family are off next week to begin their next chapter.

I am so happy for them.

I am so sad for us.

One of the hardest things (for me) in this season of life has been the transition of friendships. I have no issues making friends; I love being around people, love hearing their stories, and love seeing the way they live their lives. I am energized just being around them. But, while that time is precious, I often find it leaves me with a longing for something more, something intimate. Unfortunately, I’ve learned the hard way that deep, long lasting friendships are not made overnight.

When we moved from Atlanta 7 years ago to begin our graduate journey, we left behind a bevy of friends that we considered family. We knew each other’s stories, had been in each other’s weddings, and lived life together for several years. The loss I felt from our move was so immense, I didn’t want to make new friends in the new city we had relocated to. So I didn’t, at least at first. Why on earth would I want to do that when I had such fabulous friends who already knew and loved me in a city 8 hours from where I sat? I regrettably adopted the “why bother?” attitude since I was sure we would only live there for 3, MAYBE 4 years. With another impending transition looming in the future, I decided that I would do this journey on my own; I didn’t need a community of new friends to walk this road with me. Needless to say, it only took a year and a half before I found myself on the couch of a therapist, woefully explaining to her why I thought my life totally sucked. I was lonely and lost, trying desperately to live outside my belief that humanity was created to be in community.

After admitting that I couldn’t do it on my own, I began to reach out to other women (some graduate wives, some not) through various outlets, and I can honestly say that when we moved from there 3 years later, we left some dear friends who remain part of our lives today. Since then, I’ve been given the chance to move to another city (in another country!) to start over again, all with a fresh perspective: it’s always better to walk the road with a friend, then walk the road alone. I don’t know if we’ll live in one place for 3 years or 30 years. But, I do know this: I have to live my life in the present. If I live in the past or in the future, constantly playing the ‘What If’ game and wishing I was somewhere else with someone else, I’ll not only miss out on what I believe is a pivotal part of my life’s growth process, but also some very special friendships in a difficult season of life. I know there is always a reason you cross paths with someone; the journeys are always connected.

“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life; and thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine.” ~Thomas Jefferson

In your graduate wife journey, what are you doing to foster friendship and community?