Sunday, September 26, 2010

Grow The !@#$ Up

Remember C of food stamps and spousal PhD on Lost Atlantis? Anyhow. I was talking to C. And her spouse, who has screaming-heebie-jeebie panic attacks over writing papers (publish or perish? iffy question!), predictably did not finish a single blessed one of his term papers. From last May.

They are still not done.

Regarding one, the professor said "Oh, just turn it in before the end of the year." So C said to me, "I almost want to ask the professor to set a deadline before Christmas! Or he'll be working on the paper our whole vacation!" I made a sympathetic MRRRR noise. And I thought, "There is something wrong here."

See, normal humans would, oh, say to the spouse, "I need you to finish your work before X date, so that Y can happen." And normal, responsible, adult spouses would, given six months and a stay-at-home wife and virtually no other responsibilities, be able to finish 3 papers. And normal human people who have been married to each other for seven years should, perhaps, have worked this out already. However, under none of these circumstances is it reasonable or professional to ask one's spouse's professor to step in.

In fact, this spouse needs to grow up. Also, in fact, I think that sacrificing one's family's well-being, health, and financial stability to pursue a useless PhD in the likely-vain hope that a tenured faculty job somewhere pleasant will result... is selfish, stupid, and childish. And either terminally optimistic, or something a great deal less flattering.

Grow up, honey. Grow up.


  1. I agree and disagree with what you're saying here. Yes, in principal that is how adults work. Sometimes, however, it requires a delicate touch to work within the constraints of your spouse's mental health. I say this as the wife of someone with a mental illness. When we're in the caretaking mode (as it sounds like your friend could be in), eggshells abound. Only external pressures will work (and even then, maybe not). Anything I say or do will be taken the wrong way and the OPPOSITE will happen.

    Probably for your friend, things will have to come to a head before anything changes. The professor providing external pressure may or may not help. What will help is probably going to be them having what my boss calls a Significant Emotional Event ("You can't learn unless you SEE," he often says). That could be the professor telling him he's gonna get kicked out of school, or him actually getting kicked out, or his wife getting so angry she leaves, or a combination of all of the above.

    Anyhow, just my two cents. Sounds like quite an upsetting situation, but thankfully for you it is not your problem to solve :)

  2. Darcy9:53 AM

    Ah. I have several reactions to this tale, but the first one is, "Do these people have no commuication skills?"

  3. Rebecca: I agree that there are definitely circumstances where "Be an adult" is not the right response to someone with mental illness. Ironically, this person only has panic attacks when they're ORIGINALLY due. And then procrastinates. But you're right, it could be part of the illness, it's hard to tell. Mercifully (even though I have a mental illness!) this situation has never come up between me and my spouse, and yes, thank HEAVENS it's not my problem.

    Darcy: Apparently, NO.


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