Making Sure an MBA Won’t Destroy Your Married Life |

Making Sure an MBA Won’t Destroy Your Married Life

By Amelia Hopkins

Updated September 8, 2017 Updated September 8, 2017

An MBA might seem like a ticket to a stable, happy future. The knowledge and experience gained on these courses can drastically speed up success and career progression, translating into better paid, more enjoyable work and a life full of entrepreneurial possibilities.

That is, if you can make it through the MBA without getting a divorce.

There’s a reason so many MBAs joke about ‘Black Monday’ - the first day back following Thanksgiving, where many student return to campus newly single. The course certainly seems to take its toll on relationships, and given that in the US around one in three MBA students are married, that’s quite significant.

Perhaps it may seem strange how much difficulty can be posed by a graduate qualification. MBAs are more than just courses, however: they’re immersive cultural experiences. One of the fundamental aspects of any business school is networking and forming connections. Students are heavily encouraged to form ties with both their classmates and potential business contacts. This can certainly put a strain on a relationship, giving rise to a number of potential jealousy issues (not always without justification).

So, how can couples survive the experience? Avoid the much-feared MBA divorce by following our advice on potential problems and how to stop them:

1. One/two years of taking care of the familial home and being the main breadwinner

Problem: Whether an MBA lasts a year or two years, for the spouse it equals a significant amount of time ‘holding down the fort’. The long class hours, trips away and homework can mean that in addition to holding down a job, partners will also be taking care of the majority of the domestic chores. The splitting of domestic duties can cause problems in any household, in an MBA household it’s a recipe for disaster.

Solution: Before starting the MBA, make sure that you and your partner both understand what is required of you. If possible, create an organizational calendar and ensure that both of you are pulling your weight.

2. Financial troubles

Problem: Financial problems are the number one cause of marital breakdowns, so the expense of an MBA coupled with lost wages can hit many families hard.

Solution: Make sure you are able to cover the cost of the qualification before applying. Work out how much money you will have, how much you can live on and factor in a little extra for any unsuspected expenses ahead of time.

3. Jealousy and alienation

Problem: This issue is particularly prominent in those couples who relocate for an MBA. One half of the couple will automatically have a daily schedule along with an entirely new, exciting social circle. For the spouse, they’ve been uprooted from their home and their career and isolated from their social group.

Solution: If you’re relocating with a spouse for an MBA, try to take them into account when deciding on an institution. Choose a location where they will be able to explore their own career prospects and make a new social circle. Once your course starts, try to include them in events when possible - a lot of business schools have spousal clubs and societies, which will allow them to bond with others in the same situation.

4. Lack of understanding 

Problem: Miscommunication and a lack of understanding is easily the worst offender on this list. Without a good understand of what an MBA entails, spouses might simply cast their minds back to their own heady university days – comprised of short classes, nights out and plenty of free time. An MBA is far more demanding, and not just because of the classes themselves. A main focus of the course is the social aspect, and participants will be expected to attend a plethora of activities and events.

Solution: Ensure your spouse understands what the course will require of you. If possible, speak to other couples who’ve made it through so that you’re both aware of what’s happening. Avoid a Romeo & Juliet ending with direct communication.

The main piece of advice that we can offer is to remember it’s only one to two years, avoiding an MBA divorce is achievable. It’s hard work, but with perseverance, dedication and open communication, thriving as a couple is entirely possible.

This article was originally published in September 2017 .

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