So, you have a significant other who is studying for the bar! Perhaps you’re also in law school, before or behind them on their journey. Perhaps you’re in the same boat and also studying for the bar. Or perhaps you think law school sounds terrible, and you’ve never wanted to do anything less. Regardless, there will come a time when your loved-one law student will be studying for the bar, and they will be struggling. Being a good significant other for a bar studier is often a bit different than being a good significant other for someone who chose a less difficult, non-stressful, low-academic path, so here are some considerations if you’re on the hunt for how to help yours.
1. Let your SO know that you’re there for them
Sometimes just reminding them that you’re around and available and that you WANT to help them is enough. Law students often are in fierce competition with one another, and that begins to make one feel as though the world is out to get them. This is only heightened around bar-taking time. Remind them that you’re on their team.
2. Watch your SO’s health for them
As the bar looms ever closer, your SO will probably do a markedly worse job at taking care of themselves. A great way to support them is to make yourself the captain of their well-being. This could look like making meals for them, making sure they always have enough water, going outside for some Vitamin D with them, helping them remember to sleep, or simply asking them if they need anything while they’re studying. Here are some ways that your bar taker should be looking to stay healthy while they study.
3. Be a stress reducer, not a stressor
Asking them if they’re nervous or bringing up how close the bar exam is often is not the helpful comment that you may think. They will be putting enough pressure on themselves to pass without your additional commentary. Instead, let your bar taker guide the conversation where the bar exam is concerned. If they want to talk about how soon it is, by all means, do. Take your cues from them.
4. Help them learn to manage their stress
If they seem on the verge of a meltdown all the time, do some research yourself and see if there’s anything you can do to help take the edge off. Many law students have no idea how to manage their stress, and that tendency only gets worse as a lawyer. Maybe that’s being flexible about your date nights, planning a movie night with a bottle of wine instead of a high-energy concert, or not watching Suits or Law and Order during their limited free time.
5. Do not ever guilt them for studying
This time is difficult on everyone, and you likely miss your bar taker and haven’t seen them as much. Your quality time might be a lot of nights in, running through flashcards with them, or watching reruns of TV shows because that’s all their brain can handle during time off. It can feel like they do nothing but study, and you might find yourself becoming jealous of the bar exam because it’s effectively stealing your SO. That’s normal. Just know that this is temporary, and the more you can support your SO this time, the less likely it is that they’ll have to retake.
6. Make sure your SO gets enough rest
Many bar takers slack on sleep because they think that more studying will help, or because the stress simply prevents them from being able to sleep well. Sleep is incredibly important to everyone, but especially while you’re studying for the bar exam.
7. Plan some fun things to do after the bar exam is over
Nothing helps you push through something difficult like knowing there is something fun waiting on the other side! Whether it’s a few day trips, a vacation, or going to that fancy new restaurant you’ve been wanting to try for a long time, having a nice surprise when the exam is over will be a huge treat for your SO.
Ultimately, it’s just as important now as it ever was to maintain your connection with your law student. However, during the ten or so weeks of bar prep leading up to the bar exam, that connection may look a little different. Remember that this is not forever – your bar taker WILL take their exam, and things will go back to normal, even if it does not feel that way. Equally important to remember is that if your bar taker is really putting you through the ringer, taking care of your own emotional and mental health is just as important as taking care of theirs. Make sure your own needs and health are being taken care of, even if you cannot depend on your bar taker to be looking out for you quite as much during this stressful time.