It's taken me two years, but last week during reading week, I realized that I could be most helpful by just being supportive.
What do I mean by "supportive"? Well, I can support David by actively listening when he gets home, actually doing things he asked me to do during the day, limiting distractions and giving him my full attention (no phone, no laptop, no iPad) during the evenings when we're both home spending time together (even if we're just watching tv), and I can remember that our life does not solely revolve around what's going on with me - he's got a lot going on with him. (So this is the kind of support we should be showing our husbands every day, right? Not just when things are a little more stressful. But, when things are a little more stressful, being the right kind of supportive is so important. Can I get a, "Yep, I know what you mean!"?)
When you've got a spouse in a stressful program like law school, just keeping food in the house and the laundry basket mostly empty is actually supportive. I've talked with several doctors who've told me, "Man! If I had just had someone who'd done my laundry while I was in med school, THAT would have been amazing!"
I've already got a pretty good handle on our laundry situation, but food prep doesn't take as high a priority with me when I myself also have a busy schedule.
During reading week, I wanted to prepare some heartier meals for David to enjoy when he got home from studying all day (that still followed our dietary guidelines of course).
I think all of those years of listening to my teachers before standardized testing really left an impression on me... "Feed them before they come to school! Send snacks!" There's a lot to be said about eating right come test day (and in our case, preparing for test days)...
So, our menu for the week's dinners consisted of grilled barbecue chicken, bun-less hotdogs, a gorgeously loaded salad, and one night I even attempted to make a skinny version of bang bang shrimp, which David liked but said, "Next time we should make the un-healthy version." ; )
In my planning ahead, I knew Thursday night would be the night where I'd have the most amount of time to make dinner, so I wanted to make something a little more interesting.
Both were relatively inexpensive to make, really didn't take much time to prepare, and they were incredibly filling.
(I thought about taking a picture of the lettuce wraps,
but then I decided I would just eat them instead!)
When David got home last night, I'm sure the house smelled horribly of cooked cabbage. But, even so, as we sat and munched on spring rolls and crafted our lettuce wraps, the stress of his day and upcoming day seemed to slowly melt off. I asked few questions while we ate, just letting him decompress with siracha and soy sauce.
Being supportive encompasses so many aspects of a person's situation, and we often underestimate the support that comes with a home cooked meal and some quiet time.
To all of you who have been praying for us during this chapter of our lives, we thank you and appreciate you. We're almost 2/3 of the way there. : )
To any other spouses of intense-graduate-program students, how do you show support to your spouse during reading/finals week? Or, when you or your spouse were in such a program, was there one thing your spouse did for you that really made you feel "supported"? I'd love to hear your experiences.