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June 8, 2016

My Hubby Won't Leave Me Be

Hey, Bonita…

Dear Bonita,

My husband and I have been married about a year and together for a total of six. He's my soulmate, no doubt about it! We moved in together about six months into dating, which is kinda fast, but it works great for us. We have our little differences, but we are very well suited for each other and share our space pretty well, for the most part.

I say “for the most part” because I recently went back to graduate school to finish a degree, which means I'm doing lots of work at home and even taking a few online classes that require more quiet time/alone time than my hubby is used to me needing. He sometimes drifts into my office when I'm doing schoolwork just because he's bored and wants me to hang out with him. He has a home office too, and I know that when he's in there with the door shut, that means he's busy and should not be disturbed. But he doesn't grant me the same courtesy at all.

I always tell him that I'm still working, and I try to give him an ETA for when I'll be done, but he still insists on interrupting me when I'm concentrating. He'll sometimes walk in during my online classes, which happen on Skype, and my professor will see me shooing him away. It's embarrassing, and I think it's incredibly rude on his part, especially since I have no problem giving him the same amount of space.

I love my husband, and love living with him, but I find myself studying on campus sometimes just to get some peace. I don't want him to feel alienated or like I'm telling him to buzz off. I just need space to work. How can I communicate this need to him without hurting his feelings? Because I really think it might.

Sincerely,

A Married Schoolgirl

Hi Schoolgirl,

This is a situation that lots of people in long-term cohabitation deal with at some point. You and your husband have gotten very comfortable with your home life being a certain way, with him having private office time and your time being more available to him. You only recently started grad school again, and I'm assuming you weren't in grad school while dating your husband, because he certainly has no concept of study time. I think he's just used to you always being available to him, and it's taking him a while to adjust to your new schedule.

I appreciate your concern over hurting his feelings, but you have to stand up for yourself and communicate your needs to this guy. You have to tell him that when you're in your office with the door shut, he should not be interrupting you. Point out that you do this for him, happily, and that if he cares about you continuing your education, he'll make the necessary adjustments and give you your space.

Some dudes interpret things selfishly when you state your needs to them, and you seem to be concerned that he will take this personally and get upset or sad. If that's the case, I'd recommend on-campus date nights. Get him into the idea that you're a student now, as well as his wife, and as a student your needs are different. Meet him for picnics between classes, or go out to eat at campus-adjacent establishments. Have him meet you on campus when class is over and walk into downtown for dinner and drinks. Go to campus events with him. Dive headlong into the student experience, and drag your husband with you.

If you start to feel like he wants you to choose between marriage and an advanced degree, please know that you can be married and a student all at once. This guy seems to really love your attention to the point that he doesn't like for you to share it with other things. He's gonna have to understand that you're a person with dreams and aspirations beyond being a wife to him—and marriage is supposed to be a partnership nowadays, anyway. You're supposed to uplift and support each other and grow together, and this is how you're choosing to grow right now. He needs to get into it.

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