When I was studying for the bar exam, my now-husband and I had been dating for about a year. He isn’t a lawyer (and is proud of it) and he didn’t know many lawyers until we got together.
Now I, on the other hand, am from a family of lawyers. My parents attended law school at different times and each was the spouse of the other when they took their respective bar exams. I grew up hearing the stories about each of their bar experiences and, well, frankly what it was like to live with someone who was studying for and taking the bar exam. The message was clear,
“This too shall pass.”
So years later when it was time for me to study for the bar exam, my parents were very supportive (not surprising). They came to visit a few times during the bar prep period which was great. But what struck me each time they came to visit was that they didn’t seem too terribly concerned about how I was doing, they were concerned about how my significant other was doing!
“How are you hanging in there?” my dad would say to my now-husband. “Want to go grab a beer?”
I wanted to wave my arms and say, “HELLO! I am the one suffering through the bar exam!”
My mom’s response (when I may have said something along these lines, although without the arm waving),
“You will be fine. But your dad and I understand what it is like to be with a person who is living through the bar exam. He deserves our sympathy and support.”
Once I got past my annoyance, I did start to appreciate what it must be like to be the significant other of someone studying for the bar exam. The person you love may be, well, temporarily absent and replaced with:
- Someone who only talks about the bar or what happened in bar review.
- Someone who can’t do anything without taking flashcards with them.
- Someone who is, let’s admit, less than mentally stable.
- Someone who has good days and bad days (sometimes good and bad in the same day).
- Someone who has more books than you thought possible that they are lugging around.
- Someone who you may not even recognize.
So what can significant others do to stay sane?
- Get away with your own friends! Thought about planning a girl’s weekend/guy’s weekend? Now is the time.
- Encourage your significant other to take breaks. And if they aren’t willing to take breaks, have them read this. And by break, I mean get out of the house! Or if you would rather not talk to them (completely understandable) take them to a movie. I went to a lot of movies during bar exam prep.
- Plan a bar trip! One of the best traditions surrounding the bar is the bar trip. Plan a fun vacation where you can take your significant other away and watch them return to the person you love.
- Find a community to vent to! Realizing that there are many significant others out there who may want a space to talk about their partners (without judgment), we are holding a Twitter Chat on Wednesday, June 27th at 8:00pm EST/5:00pm PST where significant others of bar takers can come together and feel the support of the community. Join us! Hashtag #barexamtools
I am here to tell you to stay strong, significant others! Your loved one will return to normal (at least that is the mantra my parents kept telling my now-husband). And I think he would agree that I did return to normal, that is, until bar results time (but that is an entirely different post!). Good luck!
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Are you balancing studying for the bar with family responsibilities? Check out my post on How to Study While Balancing Family Responsibilities.