Wives, husbands, babies and textbooks: Putting a ring on college life
Senior Safa Katbi, a communications major, may appear as any other college student, but her study habits are no doubt different. After classes, she has to take time for her two daughters, 2 1/2 and 4, and her husband — until all of them go to sleep. That’s when she manages to find time to study.
“It’s pretty exhausting. I don’t think I was completely aware of the responsibilities that come with marriage, let alone having children,” Katbi said. “Once you have a child, you can no longer be selfish. You have to sacrifice a few aspects of college life, but I am willing to make those sacrifices.”
Being a married student in college can be a stressful, but a wonderful journey according to some committed married students at Chapman University. According to the American Council of Education (ACE) in 2005 15 percent of undergraduate students were married with children and 8 percent were married with no children.
Katbi said she never planned to be a married student. She met her husband, Omar Aljazzar, in high school. He proposed in Laguna Beach five years ago and they got married her freshman year of college. Marriage has extended her original college plan by a year; she is graduating in six years instead of five, but she is proud of her accomplishments.
“I did not worry about the stress of school and married life because I viewed marriage as commitment to my best friend. I remember the only thing I was worried about was finding the right dress,” Katbi said. “The biggest adjustment was moving in together.”
Even though life can get stressful, depending on her husband makes it easier, Katbi said.
“My husband is very helpful, especially with the kids and finding time for schoolwork. It’s nice having someone to lean on who completely understands what I’m going through,” Katbi said. “Getting school work done on time can be difficult but I somehow have to find a way.”
Kenny Reid, a senior communications major, is also a married college student and met his wife, Jade, in high school in Huntington Beach.
“She is an amazing woman. I had many difficulties with my family and living arrangements in high school and she was one of my main support systems. We fell in love and have walked through life together ever since,” Reid said.
Reid worked in the construction market until he decided to go back to school a few years ago. He attends classes while his wife works. They also receive support from financial aid. When he finishes school, his wife plans to go to college and work towards a degree in traditional Chinese medicine.
“Being married in school has been beneficial in many ways. I always have someone to encourage me through the hard times–midterms and finals,” Reid said. “Also, she is a way better writer than I am.”
Alyssa Navarro, a junior English major, is about to tie the knot. She got engaged to her boyfriend of eight years, Jurrian Terpstra, in December 2011. They met in high school and he proposed when the couple moved into a home he inherited. Navarro said college is less stress because of her fiancé.
“It’s nice when you can go home to someone who will understand you and listen to you vent and will always figure out a way to make you feel better,” Navarro said. “No matter how stressful school is I know I have support.”
Navarro said she is looking for the same things in her committed relationship that single students do on campus.
“They are finding romance in casual sex, and I’m finding it with my fiancé,” Navarro said. “Instead of quick and dirty, mine is long-term.”
Navarro plans to get married shortly after graduation in hopes that family will be able to attend both the graduation and marriage ceremony. She has already begun planning the wedding.
“Most students might take a break from homework and play a video game or go on Facebook. I decide what colors I want for my wedding,” Navarro said.
She said she understands the reasoning behind students not wanting to get married in college because of the added pressure and stress of thinking about someone else’s needs and wants.
“Maybe I would’ve gotten done with school sooner or done something more extravagant if I wasn’t in a relationship, but maybe I would’ve quit because I wouldn’t have the support he’s given me,” Navarro said.
Karleen Smith, a senior athletic training major, said she doesn’t think students should get married or engaged during college.
“Don’t do it. It’s a bad idea. You’re not settled in life yet. Everything is always changing and because of that you can’t commit to anything,” Smith said. “I don’t think you know yourself well enough, or have enough time to know the other person, so it would end up being a rash decision with bad timing.”
Naveen Jonathan is an assistant professor of psychology and has a Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Marital and Family Therapy from Loma Linda University. He points out that getting married in college depends on the student and the spouse.
“For some, marriage can be helpful because you have a companion, someone to lean on and offer support. However, marriage can also be not so much harmful, but difficult to do as a student,” Jonathan said. “It might be hard to balance the relationship and school. Furthermore, if you are in school and not working, this may cause financial strain in the relationship. However, I’ve seen students manage this well.”
Reid supports the idea of college students getting married.
“It is not for the faint of heart as it takes the deepest commitment a person can give,” Reid said. “Life is always a journey, it will always have its high points and low points. When you are married, you are not alone in these times. Happiness is best when it is shared and dark times are made brighter when you have a beautiful woman to encourage you.”
Katbi agrees that marriage is all about commitment.
“A committed relationship can be great if both partners put their all in the relationship. As long as there is common understanding, a committed relationship can bring both fulfillment and comfort to both people involved,” Katbi said. “It’s amazing to know you have someone who will support and love you unconditionally.”
While being married and in college can make life busy, these students depend on their love to make it through life.