I get LOTS of questions about homeschooling.
Questions about time management and organization…
Curriculum choices and socialization….
Self-care, community, handling criticism, juggling responsibilities…
I’ve heard it all!
But the other day I was reflecting on the impact that homeschooling has had on my marriage.
And it dawned on me…
No one has ever asked me directly,
“Will homeschooling be hard on my marriage?”
Now for single parents who I’ve chatted with, this clearly comes as no surprise!
But since the majority of homeschooling inquiries I receive are from women who are married, it’s interesting that marriage isn’t one of the first topics to come up.
I’ve been thinking A LOT lately about the impact that homeschooling has had on my marriage.
The good, the bad, and the ugly.
The reality is that homeschooling CAN be hard on a marriage.
Because homeschooling involves time and energy.
It’s a huge commitment that often requires a big leap of faith.
And it’s common for partners to have different opinions about how things should be done.
But don’t worry, there’s also plenty of good news!
Homeschooling presents so many rich opportunities to bring improved communication, creativity, respect, adventure, and joy to a marriage.
But before we get into that, let’s address common challenges first.
Here are issues that can come up in marriages while homeschooling:
1. Financial Stress
Homeschooling is a full-time gig.
And while I know people who homeschooling successfully while working outside of the home, this is not the norm. It is uncommon to have both parents working full-time without compromising a healthy family life and a quality homeschooling education.
This means that most homeschooling families are living off of one primary income source.
Are there exceptions?
Yes, of course.
But this is the most typical scenario and often comes with its fair share of financial stress.
My husband and I have weathered plenty of financial stress since our homeschooling journey began.
And it’s hard.
Financial stress is REALLY hard and it can be taxing on a marriage.
It’s easy for resentment to creep in when you’re homeschooling.
Maybe your partner resents that you are not working outside of the home.
Or maybe they wish that they could be the one doing the bulk of the homeschooling while you work outside of the home.
On the other hand, you may resent that your partner isn’t more involved in different aspects of homeschooling.
Or perhaps you feel resentful that you never seem to get a break.
Any number of circumstances can cause resentment.
Loneliness is the worst.
If your partner works outside of the home and you are working all day homeschooling your children, your lives probably look VERY different when you aren’t together.
Your co-workers become your children and other homeschooling friends which is completely different than your partner’s co-workers!
Not being able to relate to these differences can feel tough.
These differences can easily lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
4. Different Opinions
There are so many different ways to homeschool!
This is wonderful but it also means that there are plenty of opportunities to have different opinions.
Disagreeing on which curriculum to use, which educational philosophy to follow, and various teaching methods are very common.
Different opinions can lead to plenty of conflict.
5. Lack of Appreciation
When you are the one homeschooling your children, it can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you “should” be able to manage your home completely be yourself.
The cooking, cleaning, laundry, bill-paying, shopping…
Well, this is NUTS!
Being the one in charge of your child’s education is a HUGE responsibility. It is a full-time career that requires dedication, stamina, time, and support.
Expecting yourself, or having your partner expect you to manage both homeschooling and all household responsibilities
Holding this belief can lead to a serious lack of appreciation!
Now, while these are all common issues within homeschooling, there are some things I’ve found help tremendously, in keeping my marriage strong.
Ways to set your marriage and homeschooling partnership up for success:
1. Make sure you’re on the same page financially
Make sure you have a solid agreement about how your family finances work, including a budget.
Don’t forget to include estimated homeschooling expenses as well as costs associated with your self-care.
Revisit your finances and budget regularly to make sure you’re still on the same page.
2. Practice self-care
One of the biggest issues I find among homeschooling parents is difficulty engaging in regular self-care.
Our regular responsibilities and lack of time mean we often push self-care to the side.
It’s also common to feel guilty taking time for ourselves.
But it’s important that you identify simple and effective ways to practice self-care, and that you share this with your partner.
Self-care is critical to your overall well being.
Don’t expect your partner to be able to read your mind!
Ask for what you need!
You might be desperate for some help with the housework while your partner assumes you’ve got things completely under control.
Or they might want to help more with homeschooling but think that they’ll be stepping on your toes.
Do your best not to make assumptions and create your own stories without talking to each other first, OK?
Make sure you are communicating regularly!
4. Involve your partner
What are your partner’s interests?
What about their areas of strength?
Consider having them take over the subjects they enjoy and feel confident teaching.
If there are certain topics they’re interested in learning more about, have them explore those topics with your children.
Involve your partner so that they are an active part of your rich homeschooling life.
5. Revisit expectations
Sometimes our expectations are completely unrealistic.
Whether we expect our partner to read our mind, think we “should” be able to manage everything independently, or are trying to cover too many academic subjects, we might need to check our expectations.
Revisiting expectations can help keep things in perspective.
What to do when your spouse is NOT on board with homeschooling:
1. Explain your reasons for wanting to homeschool
Why is this educational approach important to you? Spend some time creating a pros and cons list to share with your partner.
2. Show them current research on homeschooling
Show them the latest favorable research on homeschooling. Include things like academic success, positive socialization examples, and college admission rates.
3. Show them homeschooling success stories
Point out people you know in real life that are homeschooling successfully, as well as well-known people who were homeschooled during their lives.
4. Listen and respect their concerns and reservations
Your partner’s feelings are valid. Listen with an open-mind and compassion. Do not interrupt. Allow them to be heard and respected.
5. Be willing to compromise
Perhaps your partner feels strongly that you should finish out the current school year but is open to homeschooling next year.
Or maybe they would be willing to “try it out” for a year to see how it goes, with the mutual understanding that traditional school is a possibility for the future.
Give each other the benefit of the doubt and be willing to compromise.
I hope that identifying these common issues will encourage you to be proactive in ways that strengthen your marriage and homeschooling partnership.