Someone much wiser than me once said, “behind every successful man is a woman.” We can extrapolate for this blog and say: “behind every successful MBA student is a supportive partner.” I use the term “partner” loosely—he or she may be a spouse, a significant other, a family, a friend, or anyone the student can count on for support. I’m sure every student in the program has someone like that in his or her life. Recognizing this, the full-time program dedicates various resources for students’ significant others and families. Things are slightly different for those of us in the Houston or Dallas program, however, since most of us have already settled in the city (versus having moved to Austin for school), and thus our partners would have established lives and careers of their own. Nonetheless, I believe this endeavor requires both the student and the supporter to make some lifestyle adjustments. In my case, I owe indebted gratitude to my husband for supporting me every step of my MBA journey thus far. To give the reader a glimpse of life of an MBA spouse and how we manage life, I interviewed him on behalf of the blog. KL denotes my husband, and TXMBA is the blog.
TXMBA: Please tell the readers a little bit about yourself and about your family.
KL: Cindy and I have been married for a little over 3 years and have been together for about 7 years. Cindy currently works as a chemical engineer in the Houston office of a Chicago-based corporation. I currently work as an in-house attorney for a Houston-based oil and gas firm. We currently live in the northwest Houston. We do not currently have any children, but we do have two wonderful pet cats.
TXMBA: So, how did this whole MBA thing come about? How did you feel when your wife said she wanted to go back to school?
KL: Cindy had been considering her career path if she decided to stay on the technical side of engineering for some time, and we often discussed it together. Ultimately, I believe Cindy decided that for her long term career goals, she wanted to pursue opportunities outside of a solely technical-focused role. We realized this would likely mean going back to school to pursue a graduate degree. Prior to deciding on pursuing an MBA degree, Cindy also considered other possible paths, including a law degree (and actually received admission to South Texas College of Law). Being an attorney myself and having gone through law school in Houston, I was able to tell her what I perceived to be the pros and cons of a legal career. Ultimately, she felt an MBA was better suited to her. As far as how I felt about Cindy going back to school, I wanted her to be able to pursue whatever she wanted career-wise, so I was in complete support of the decision.
TXMBA: Once you understood her schooling will be a large time commitment in your lives, how did you prepare for it?
KL: To be perfectly honest, I don’t feel our lives have changed significantly. Of course, we realized school would be not only a time commitment, but also a financial commitment. So, to some extent we had to plan for that in terms of budgeting, since we opted not to apply for student loans.
TXMBA: Once school started, was there anything about it that surprised you? Why?
KL: Not really. There was quite a bit of group work, but that did not really surprise me. We have several other friends that have been through MBA programs and we sort of knew in advance most MBA programs would involve quite a bit of group work.
TXMBA: What adjustments, if any, did you have to adapt to? In other words, how do you keep your family life as normal as possible? How do you keep your relationship as normal as possible?
KL: Again, referring to my response to Question 3, I honestly don’t feel our lives changed significantly just because Cindy is in the MBA program now. Yes, to some extent responsibilities shift around, and I try to help out more around the house when Cindy is busy with school-related things. I think our relationship is great, and we do a pretty good job of making time for each other. I think overall, our approach is to take things one week at a time rather than formulate some type of rigid plan for the duration of her schooling.
TXMBA: What do you do with your free time when your wife is doing school stuff?
KL: I don’t really find that I do anything out of the ordinary when Cindy is doing school-related stuff. I tend to try and take advantage of the “free time” to get things done that I need to do as well. For example, being an attorney for a large corporation keeps me pretty busy, and I occasionally bring work home to finish up while Cindy is in school or doing homework/group-work for school.
To inject a little humor into the truth – when I actually do have free time while Cindy is in school, I find that it is a great time to catch up on TV shows I DVR’d that Cindy would otherwise not want to watch with me. Also, when I hang out with guy friends on the weekends when Cindy is in school, I don’t feel as “guilty” for not hanging out with her.
TXMBA: So what’s in it for you?
KL: After going through the MBA program, I hope Cindy is able to find a job and career that she will love and enjoy. If she is happy, then I am happy.
TXMBA: Any advice for the incoming MBA spouses?
KL: As I said earlier, our approach is to take things week by week and adjust as needed. I think MBA spouses will need to be prepared to be “on call” so to speak, i.e., be prepared to help out more around the house/apartment/condo when needed. But I find that for the most part we haven’t needed to change our lives significantly. Of course, this worked for us – but that doesn’t guarantee it will necessarily work for everyone.
Hope my husband’s interview clarified how the Texas MBA at Houston or Dallas impacts the students’ personal lives. Feel free to leave comments or questions for either of us, or if you’re an MBA partner, weigh in with your two cents!