Relationship expectations vs. reality

What was the most challenging part of the MBA for you together? 

  • Managing finances. So, you’ve chosen to forego a significant portion of your household income, and at the same time you have more opportunities to travel and partake in once-in-a-lifetime activities! Take a deep look at what the “full” experience will cost you and make decisions early about what experiences you will do. Discuss tradeoffs. Be prepared to address the fact that often the one who is not working will have more opportunities to blow through the joint-savings! Even couples that aren’t yet married should think about it – this debt will eventually affect both of you.
  • Making sure my partner felt welcomed. By nature of being around everyone, I know virtually everyone in my class and obviously [my partner] doesn’t. Having her feel welcome at events where it seems like she’s the odd one out is probably the biggest challenge.
  • Having common topics to talk about. My world was evolving all the time with class projects, internship interviews and clubs. But [my partner’s] world was different. Party conversations that centered on a specific class or a series of “inside jokes” would get boring pretty quickly for him. We made a point of finding friends who like the same things we did: college football, Meet the Press and craft beer. That meant there was always something to talk about that didn’t include reference to a particular class number.
  • Managing your partner’s expectations of the MBA schedule. My tip would be to communicate commitments clearly as early as possible and to keep your calendar updated and share it.

What surprised you about the experience?

  • FOMO was not as bad as I thought. I laugh now thinking about how concerned I was missing an event before school started or not going to a specific party. Certainly make an effort to get to know your classmates, but know that no single event will make or break your time there.
  • How much little things mattered. I remembered being surprised that I didn’t have a good plan for grocery shopping. Back home, [my partner] was in charge of it. He had a grocery list on his organizer, we added items as needed, and off he went. In Chicago, I realized in the first few days that I hadn’t been responsible for shopping for about 2 years. It’s the little repetitive things that the other person does and no one notices that go missing once the people are separated.