Supporting my partner doing a PhD, last 18 months (Issues for women)
I posted 2 years ago about my Thai partner who failed her viva but is now registered elsewhere to try to complete her PhD studies. Whilst we thought he doing the PhD a second time would be difficult, we thought 3 to 4 years would be okay but now my partner needs to use the full 5 years of registration.
The registration began in 2014 but her progress in that year was limited to a research proposal and a lot of reading. She has been able to work from home, fulltime whilst I hold down a teaching job in a Thai university. English is her second language and whilst her speaking and English are at IELTS 7.5 (She is ace at this) but her reading and writing are more level 5.5. During 2015, it took her 6 months to submit a 20 page outline of her thesis (which was good) and I was happy this was the turning point.
Entering 2016, she drafted four chapters for review by her supervisors (Distance learning she goes to meet them once a year and has Skype consultations), they gave her a lot of comments back and since Dec 2016 is working on the corrections. Once completed, she can do her fieldwork, but she needs to submit her work by June. It is now 2 days away from her deadline and I have 3 chapters to edit and read (I still don't have them). She has taken 5 to 5.5 months on this editing and has not passed one chapter for me to proof or check.
This is affecting our relationship - sex is dead and now I feel like the monster pushing her to finish. She is past her mid-30s and never worked and I thought I was old in my late 20s! I need some help from the ladies here on how to help. She has to finish, her scholarship means she cannot work another job ever.
I remember your post! Hard as it is, I don't think you can help. It is going to ruin your relationship and you need to distance yourself from it (not her). Is she depressed, do you think? Does she enjoy the research? I went through a long period of procrastination and doubt myself so I can understand that it is sometimes very difficult to "just get on with it". If she can't motivate herself though, she really needs some outside help to do this which I don't think you are in a position to give her. I was also studying from a distance and what really helped me was to meet up with other students/researchers to get feedback - it made me feel like I was actually a "proper" student. Would this be an option?
Sorry to hear about your situation.
I have to agree with timefortea that there is not much you can do other than providing the emotional and physical support which you seem to be doing.
If she is not motivated to write, perhaps she might benefit from joining a writing group?
I guess the best way forward will be to find out exactly why she has not been writing, is it possible that the feedback is not clear?
I am sorry I cannot be of much help, but when I have writers block, I find that writing with other PhD students makes things a lot better.
Thanks the suggestions are good ideas but in Thailand most lecturers in social science never publish or do any work so writing groups are difficult to find. Feedback is pretty much never clear from my own experience, certainly how we do things in the UK is not conducive to international students, that I am certain.
I agree with writing groups but i know from my own field, was just not enough like-minded people to do it - thai universities do not have a research culture.
HI there, Craigwhizz, I think similarly to TfT and HiT in that the support you, or any partner needs to provide is emotional, with perhaps a bit of reading here and there to assist with meaning or minor edits.
The PhD is your partner's not yours and as Time for Tea said so well " distance yourself" from the PhD not your partner. I don't think this is something that is your responsibility to sort out, and I worry that when you have expectations about her meeting deadlines, that you are somehow taking on responsibility for both her and her thesis. (Out of love and caring I know).
All the other matters mentioned in your final paragraph are really between you and your partner, and the PhD seems to be standing in as a symbol for some other things you have concerns about. And these might be something you would wish to discuss with your partner or family or similar. It is a bit like the PhD is the 'elephant in the room' but in saying this, it isn't really about the PhD, there are some underlying issues that surface in this issue with the PhD.
What if you just accepted that your partner's PhD might go over time again and did not accept any responsibility for it whatsoever and left it to her. Would it be possible to do this and refocus on the aspects of the partnership that you both enjoy and appreciate? If lack of money and work are issues for you (as in at some point you would hope that your partner earns an income), this might be a conversation you could have (in terms of timelines and similar), and then leave the rest to her. I'm not sure what you mean when you say, "her scholarship means she cannot work another job ever", so pardon me if I have misinterpreted this. Best wishes, P
I am unsure why you are getting involved in her PhD at all to be honest. Why are you editing her work for example? Did she ask you to do that? Also why are you "pushing her"?
It sounds like you need to back off and leave her alone to either swim or more likely sink.
Finally, what do you mean when you say she cant work ever?
On the surface of it this looks less like support and more like domineering control but I may be misinterpreting your post.
I kinda agree with most of the posts. Just to clarify, she can't not finish the PhD because she got a scholarship to go to the UK. It is a debt paid back by teaching at her university in Thailand at least 10 years but if she does not submit, she is not allowed to work full stop (Because the debt has not been paid back). It is a silly rule meaning one Thai I know cannot return to Thailand because she owes the government money.
I agree it seems like I am doing a lot but Thais need a lot of help with social science PhDs because their English is poor. So a vast majority need someone to at least edit the sentences so they are more readable. She does not expect me nor would I write chapters for her - I am too busy myself. If she writes I will check them and edit.
She does help me so much with my own university because most of the people there are incompetent - she has to deal with that and help me with my academic promotion (Because the idiots at my university don't know their own procedures).
Yes, I agree, this post sounds similar to 2015. It is worrying just knowing what she is doing whilst I am teaching or at the uni. She is stressed but I just don't get how her progress can be slower than first time around - I blame myself a bit for not intervening but then she does not pay her fee to me, it goes to her uni to support her.
Finally, I will just let her get on with it - if I think of it, it gets too much and I get depressed myself. I have no problem people struggling because I did myself but my case with her is extreme. I am checking one chapter now and two others tomorrow, hopefully her supervisors see she has enough to go and do her fieldwork then she can gain more confidence.
Cheers for the advice
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