An Open Letter to My Husband

Obviously this little missive is inspired mostly by my husband, but also by a blog from Post-Academic in New York.  Her story about the unending support from her husband really resonated with me, particularly in terms of her husband’s mind-boggling calm reaction to the tempest wrought by academic misery (which is exactly the case with my own implacably level-headed husband).  In her words, “So, if you want to know how to survive grad school (or, for that matter, war and pestilence), get a partner that will find absolutely no reason to hate you, dump you, or even speak an angry word to you ever despite all your best efforts to make hir life a living hell.”  Amen sister.

Dear Husband,

I’m sorry that this dissertation is sucking up so much of our first year of marriage.  I hope that one day when I look back, I will see all the good things with you more clearly than the bad things with the dissertation

I’m sorry that I have to spend so much time in front of my computer when I would rather be spending it with you.

I’m sorry that I can’t spend our time together in figuring out what sort of spouses we want to be to each other or how we want to shape our married life.  It sure as hell won’t continue to look like this.

I’m sorry you have to see me sad and miserable so often.  I know it is hard for you, and I know you feel powerless to do much about it.

I’m sorry you get to hear my same litany of complaints and misery every damn day.

I’m sorry that you have to pick up more of the household stuff than is really fair.

I’m sorry that my office is a mess, and I can’t fold my clothes and put them away, and that sometimes I can’t be bothered to make the bed.

I’m also sorry that sometimes I don’t go to the grocery store for awhile, and then when I do, I buy weird things like 3 different types of pickles but no milk or peanut butter.

For the record, I’m also sorry that I keep taking all the spoons for my morning yogurt, and then forget to put them back in the kitchen, making you think that possibly there is an kitchen gnome stealing our cutlery.  You do not seem to really mind, and I appreciate that.

I know that you don’t begrudge me any of this, because you love me and you know our life together won’t always look like this.  And even if it did, I suspect you would probably stay with me anyway.  And I know you wouldn’t want me to feel bad about it.  But academia has taught me to feel guilty and inadequate.

More than anything, I’m sorry that the choice long ago to finish this thing is preventing me from being able to live the sort of life I want to live with you.

I’m thankful that you are always loving and supportive, even when I don’t have much energy to return it to you.

I’m thankful that you don’t seem to mind all the times that I have to work.

I’m thankful that you aren’t impatient with me being continuously depressed and anxious and that you do your best to help me feel better.

I’m thankful that you have a stable job that can support both of us.

I’m thankful that you have health insurance that, amongst other things, covers therapy so I can crawl out of this hole.

I’m thankful that you don’t seem to mind that my financial contributions to our life are going to be small and/or inconsistent for quite possibly a very long time.

I’m thankful that you make it clear that my non-financial contributions to our relationship are significant enough  to make me feel like an equally valuable component of our partnership.

I’m thankful that you are thinking of and planning for our future when I can’t see beyond the narrow confines of the dissertation’s dictatorial control over my immediate moment.

I’m thankful that you are an anchor of stability, and normalcy, and love when such a large part of my life is dominated by irrational, miserable lunacy.

I’m thankful that I met you and married you because I can’t imagine doing this, or anything else, without you.

Love always,

Your Wife

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2 thoughts on “An Open Letter to My Husband

  1. Beautiful! It really shouldn’t have to be like this, though. Our partners shouldn’t have to put up with wretched grad school demons, even if we do.

    • That is so true! It makes me crazy that the misery of the academic system extends out to our friends and family. Nobody should have to put up with it, much less the people we love most.

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