It’s said that for every hour in class there is up to three hours of studying and homework that needs to be done. For the full time student, these hours can really add up. Combine that with a part time job (or two!), family responsibilities, keeping in touch with friends and you don’t have nearly enough hours in a day to get everything you’d like done. And this is before exams hit. So how can anyone manage a relationship with that special person on top of everything else? Here are some tips on how avoid the sabotage that stress can have on your relationship.
Make a date night
Despite our best intentions, students often have no control over when things will begin to pile up. Often the only thing you can do is to push through. But even when things are at their bleakest, you need to see each other at least once during the week. Having a scheduled date will guarantee that you stay connected. No matter if you’re swamped under piles of looming papers and due dates, you’ll be happy you made the time and so will your partner.
Show you care
Can’t get together more than once on a particular week? Don’t cut them out of your life completely. Send little reminders like an e-mail, Facebook message or text to remind them
that even though you’re busy, you’re still thinking of them. Huge bouquets of flowers and boxes of chocolates can wait until February. It’s the little gestures of love that count.
School stress vs. relationship stress
Make sure to differentiate between the pressure you’re under from school and any strain you may feel in your relationship. If everything your guy or gal is doing is pissing you off, stop and think. Are they really being annoying to the best of their ability (it’s possible) or are you fixating on something other than that huge paper you have to write and channeling your anxiety and frustration onto him or her (it’s probable)? Reviewing your feelings and thinking about their causes can help prevent you from jumping to conclusions and stop arguments before they start.
If you’re freaking out about that term paper, project or exam that’s coming up, don’t try to plaster on a happy face. Most of the time this will only temporarily keep the stress at bay and can in fact make it worse. Be open about how you’re feeling with your partner. If you say in advance that you’re really feeling the pressure, your significant other will be more understanding if you happen to snap at them and apologize rather than if you try to explain after the fact. This way you not only take responsibility for your foul mood but you avoid sounding like you’re making excuses for your actions.
Newer couples especially feel the need to constantly shower each other with attention. This can actually drive a wedge between you if one person feels like they need a night off from both school and their partner because they don’t want to have to entertain. It is important to learn to be comfortable with each other. There’s nothing wrong with doing your homework together or one person doing homework and the other person reading. Couples who have been together longer will probably have established this level of comfort with each other already but newer units might have to make a concentrated effort to be laid back. You and your partner will naturally want to spend more time together as long as it doesn’t begin to feel like another chore.
Indulge in ‘me’ time
Take time for yourself. I know it can seem like the end of the world, but couples who can spend time apart are healthier and happier in the long run. When you reach the end of your rope don’t be afraid to show yourself some ‘me’ time — a bubble bath, a girls’ or guys’ night out or an afternoon spent with a really good book. Recharging your batteries will lower your stress levels and help you to better cope with everything that life can throw at you. If you’re happy with yourself your partner will be too.
Like everything worthwhile, relationships take time and effort. While these resources might seem especially strained during the school year, maintaining that special bond with someone is not impossible.