How do you maintain a healthy relationship?
A friend sent me a message the other day asking me how I maintain a healthy relationship while in veterinary school. When I read the message, I couldn’t help but laugh. The truth is, I am not the best person to ask! But, my fiancé is amazing at keeping our relationship strong so I asked him if he would share some tips.
First, let me provide some background on him. His name is Kelvin and he is an engineer, which means he is extremely logical. If you know me personally, you will know that he is my polar opposite in many ways. I am extremely illogical where he is logical, optimistic where he is realistic, boisterous where he is reserved, extroverted where he is introverted. We are a balance that is shifting all the time. He is one of the most giving individuals I have ever met and very low maintenance. He is totally content to sit by himself with our dog while I work. I think it takes a special type of person to be with someone who is always working (like me). I have a hard time shutting it off, which I feel is a common trend among us veterinary students. Although our relationship is a constant balance between our strengths and weaknesses, my fiance has really managed to excel in making me feel supported.
Without further ado, here are his tips for dealing with the veterinary student relationship scenario:
1. Be supportive. Veterinary schools throw a lot of extracurricular opportunities at their students. It is important to give your partner the space for he/she to make their own decisions. If you feel like they are over extending themselves, ask how they are feeling about everything. Don’t tell them what to do, but support them as they make decisions.
2. Don’t take anything too personally. We all know what stress feels like, but somehow it gets worse when you throw a bunch of Type A personalities into the same room. If your partner gets upset with you, let them cool off. Make the bed or buy them their favorite snack and take the edge off of the situation. It is a short-term process and not all days will be bad.
3. Be honest. If they are consistently making you feel bad and you are not feeling happy in the relationship, be honest. Often, they have no idea what they are doing and need to be told directly to stop. Understand that change doesn’t happen overnight, but hopefully the situation won’t become too dire if you have an open channel of communication.
4. Ask them on dates. It can even be cooking together, but keep the spark alive through cooking or going for a quick bite to eat. Find something you enjoy doing together and make it a weekly ritual.
5. Take care of you. Regardless of the stress, there is never a good excuse to treat another human poorly. Make sure you are not compromising yourself and your morals. It is important to give your partner space, but it is also important for your partner to meet you in the middle. You can’t have a one-sided relationship. Keep doing the things you love, be independent, invite your significant other out with you, make new friends, and live your life. Just because your life partner is in a challenging environment, it doesn’t mean that you need to be miserable. Keep taking care of you and support your partner and you will make it through.
Veterinary school is just four years (in the United States at least). You can do anything for four years when you have the rest of your lives to spend together. I hope you enjoyed a different perspective on relationships in veterinary school. Relationships are all about compromise and communication, even in school. If you are struggling with anxiety as a student (or in the real world), I encourage you to read my post on 5 Tips for Dealing with Anxiety.
Let me know if you have any questions or other tips that have helped your relationship!