Balancing classes, homework, extracurriculars, and work is hard, but adding marriage to that mix brings on a whole new set of responsibilities.
Married… at college. It is a TV show that has not been written yet, but many students at Rollins College have been the stars of their own episodes, written all from scratch, and trying to make it work. Students have a number of priorities that require their full attention. Whether those responsibilities are financially based or the balance between work and school, there is no doubt that a college degree is not given, it is earned. But add into the mix cultivating a relationship with limited time together and homework responsibilities, and you have a supreme challenge.
With the rise of social media, married couples have found that it has aided their relationship in many ways. For students like Cristina Marrero ‘17, apps like Google Calendar have been useful in coordinating her schedule with her wife, Caitlyn Matthews ’16. Getting together on campus and sharing a lunch together can make all the difference: “Even if it is hard, I wouldn’t want to be in this with anyone else, and as time goes by I am sure we will find a natural rhythm to things.” Some, like Caitlyn Matthews ’16, find that taking classes together can be both difficult and easier on their relationship: “It makes us more sympathetic to the other, but it also means that we are both stressed out and tired. Neither one of us can be the support or safety net in that case.”
Among the regular challenges faced in college, many couples feel that there are societal pressures dictating how a “college experience” should be. Most of these stereotypes can be found in movies and television, depicting college life as being a journey towards independence. Patricia Carlier-Lalana ’14 feels that social media has hindered the natural evolution of her marriage because of this fact: “It’s definitely hard to not think every now and then twice if I am doing the right thing or if I am missing something.” She works alongside her husband, Carlos Rendon ’14, and notes that in a work and academic setting, it is important to distinguish separating the intimacy of a relationship from professional obligations. Denise Holdridge ’17 uses Facebook as a way to connect with family and friends: “There is something about posting a special event or a personal message out to all your friends and family that gives meaning to our relationship. For us, as a lesbian couple, it also gives us meaning, that we are out to our family and friends.”
What ultimately ties everyone together is the foundation of communication. Communication, whether it is on the basis of social media or face-to-face interaction, is the key that plays a vital role in a successful marriage. Carlos Rendon ’14 says that communication is essential when there is a misunderstanding: “I have learned that the more you talk and listen to your partner in order to understand their opinions, the greater the connection between the two.” Denise Holdridge ’17 says, “You have to be clear on what you want or what you need and talking about it makes all the difference. No assumptions. If face-to-face isn’t possible due to schedules, texting or Facebook messaging will have to do, as long as it is clear and won’t be taken in the wrong way”.
For students like Cristina Marrero ‘17 it is the little things that count. “Even if face-to-face time is limited, texting random ‘I love you’ messages and phone calls in between classes makes it so we can try to keep on the same page.”