Ask Amanda: Stress is Causing Problems in My Relationship
posted on September 16, 2016 | by Amanda Holstein
My fiancé and I have been together for over 7 years and we recently moved in together. I moved about an hour and a half away from our hometown to attend law school, and he transferred to a community college to be here. He left his family, his job, his friends, and his education at a better school. But he made the decision entirely himself. I never asked him to move with me. In fact, I was mostly against living together before marriage but I was excited for this next chapter of our life together.
But lately we’ve definitely been having some problems. Law school is a full time job. I wake up early in the morning and get to the library 3 hours before class to do my readings for the night, so that I can come home and spend the evening with my fiancé. He doesn’t seem to appreciate this, and even makes me feel bad for being tired.
Also, I’ve been making an effort to be super social which has given him more reason to be upset with me. I’m very introverted and in the past, I’ve had trouble making friends. But I’ve been working really hard to make friends and have a social outlet. But if I go out with my friends and bring my fiancé along, he gets upset if I don’t pay enough attention to him. It’s also getting hard that he hasn’t found a job and I continue to pay for most everything. It doesn’t seem to me like he’s even trying. But I can’t say anything without coming off terrible.
There’s just a lot going on and it’s getting really frustrating. These are the most serious relationship problems we’ve had in a long time. But I think because he hasn’t found a job or friends of his own, he’s struggling and taking it out on me. What do I do? I want to be supportive, but at the same time, it frustrates me that he’s making this tough time in my life even harder.
I need some advice!
Moving in together is a big adjustment and a major life change that can no doubt cause stress. On top of that, going to graduate school while your partner works/is looking for work is difficult as well. I think it’s important that you recognize these two major life changes because these are causing you both stress individually, which is then affecting your relationship. It’s important to separate these two things in your mind: the stressful life changes and your relationship. Stress in life almost always seeps into our relationships, so try not to worry that there’s “something wrong” with you as a couple. It’s these external factors that are creating the stress.
Now for how to handle it. I think it’s important that you two sit down (when you’re both not tired or stressed out) and talk openly about your new situation. My guess is you are both feeling the stress and instead of working against each other, you need to try working with each other to get through this difficult transition.
One issue is that your schedules are very different, which causes you both to be tired at different times, which makes it difficult to find a good time to connect and really hang out together. Recognize this and decide together how you want to handle it — do you want to schedule a date night each week? Maybe it’s not realistic to expect to have real hang out time when you get home from a long day, so maybe you should both stop expecting that from each other. Maybe you need to plan out that fun time in advance so you can both have the energy and be in the right mindset.
I think it’s also important that you talk about what you’re both going through. You, in grad school, with work to do when you’re not in class, trying to make new friends, balancing everything etc. Him having moved to a new city, perhaps missing his old life, trying to figure out his career. You need to talk. You need to communicate how you are both feeling about your new situations. Admit that it’s been tough but that you love each other and want to figure out how to make it work. Once you feel like you’re both on the same team and trying to make this work together, so much of that added stress will go away, I promise you.
I hope this helps! Let me know how it goes!