Anna Dellinger, Features Editor
Most members of Bison Hill are familiar with the phrase “Ring by Spring.” But after that ring, life goes on: pictures are taken, vows are exchanged and lives are forever changed in a marriage ceremony.
The newlyweds must eventually return from their honeymoon to create a new normal for themselves on campus. They face many new challenges and benefits as they begin their lives together.
For senior communications studies major Braden East (pictured with his wife above), commuting is one of the greatest difficulties he faces as a married student.
“[Living off campus] absolutely changes things,” East said. “I’m still on campus all day as a student worker, but I have to be much more intentional about spending time with my friends here.”
While some couples choose to live off campus, there are also housing options available for married students. Burns, Cobbs and West Devereaux contain 22 apartments for married couples.
If students are planning to marry and hoping to live in married campus housing they go to the cashier’s office and put up a $25 deposit, take the receipt to GC 101, fill out a married student housing application and turn them both in to Student Services.
Applications are put in the order in which they are turned in, and housing will be offered in that order, according to how many vacancies are available.
Lauren Quick graduated May of 2017 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and lives on campus in Burns with her husband Sam, who is still working on his degree.
“I think if we lived off campus, we’d definitely feel more removed from campus and the ‘college experience,’” Quick said. “Since we live in married housing, we can easily meet up with our on-campus friends and have people over without driving anywhere, so that’s really convenient.”
Senior Biology major Evan Lashar lives with his wife Amy in married housing on campus as well.
“It is definitely different than the normal college experience, and it makes things harder when trying to keep in touch with some people, but it is also relatively peaceful which is nice,” Lashar said.
Quick found herself in a similar position, intentionally setting aside time to be with her friends.
“I think one of the harder things for me was keeping up with some of my friends since I did not live with them anymore, especially if we had different majors and didn’t naturally cross paths that much,” she said.
Secretary of Student Service Debi Brittain helps engaged or newly married students set up everything for their new homes.
“It is fun to be a part of a new journey as newly married (or about to be married) students come in to secure their first apartment…their first home,” Brittain said. “They are always excited and anxious to get in and make it their own. I love seeing that excitement and love saying a little prayer as I file that paperwork away… that this first home will be a blessing and filled with the Lord.”
Now that they have a new place to call home, it can be difficult to visit their families at “home” as often as students did before they were married.
“It’s a couple hours for us to go home, so our visits are less frequent,” East said.
With the summer over, it can be harder to make time for trips back home, Lashar said.
“Our lives are here now, which is a blessing, but it can strain some family relationships if they require a lot of time,” he said.
Another difficulty in married life is can be managing time because of college life and the newfound responsibilities of marriage.
“We both have very busy schedules between school, jobs and just life things,” Lashar said.
“Sometimes there just isn’t enough time to get the dishes done, let alone have some quality time together.”
For Quick, budgeting her time has been about the same as before she was married, she said.
“Since we don’t have a meal plan anymore, I cook more than I used to, and that requires extra time in the evenings,” Quick said. “I also work more to help pay our bills and rent. College life has always been busy, though, so I’d say that while managing time isn’t different than before, what I’m managing my time for has changed some.”
East’s experience in managing his time has been different from Lashar and Quick.
“Surprisingly, [it’s been] easier,” he said. “My wife is a nursing student at OU, and she stays busier than I do. It’s easy to look at her work ethic and stay motivated.”
While there are certainly some difficulties married students face, East, Lashar and Long all seem to agree on the best thing about being married.
“This is going to sound a little cliché, but getting to go home to my wife each night… Also, not having to eat Caf food,” East said.
At the end of a long day, Lashar said he looks forward to being home with his wife as well.
“Regardless of whatever is going on and how busy you are, you still get to see your best friend (even if only for a few minutes) at the end of the day,” he said. “That is a huge blessing.”
Quick also speaks about her favorite thing in being a married college student.
“The best thing is definitely that I get to see my husband all the time – it’s so nice to come home and have my best friend right there,” she said. “We don’t have to set aside specific evenings just to see each other because we get to do that every day now. School and work keep us both busy, but now that we’re married it makes it so much easier to still make time for each other and hang out since we live together.”
These new couples may not have reached a golden anniversary yet, but they still have advice to offer dating and engaged students at OBU.
“The first thing I’d say is to communicate and make sure you’re on the same page with the person you are in a relationship with, in regards to your future,” Lashar said. “The second would be to then get advice from everywhere: talk to your parents, his or her parents, professors, pastors and anyone you can; learn as much as you can in regards to engagement and marriage.”
If a couple has concerns about who to talk to, OBU offers free Marriage and Family Therapy counseling services.
Lashar also emphasized that couples should look to God in thinking about marriage.
“There are a lot of pros and cons to being married in college,” he said. “Make sure you know them going in to something like this, and make sure it isn’t just you guys, but God, who is calling you into this covenant.”
Quick gave some advice that might be surprising to those waiting to enter the world of marriage.
“Be sure to go out and do things by yourself or with friends but without your spouse,” she said. “Once you get married it is easy to think, ‘Oh, I have to do everything with this person now,’ but that’s simply not true. Doing things without your spouse makes you miss him or her and appreciate the time that you do spend with them.”
While he didn’t advise rushing into a marriage relationship, East didn’t encourage putting it off either.
“Don’t wait if you don’t have to… if you’re serious, go for it,” East said. “Being married makes everything less expensive and more fun because you’re sharing your life with your other half.”
Lashar leaves one last piece of advice.
“Enjoy the stage you’re in right now, single, dating, engaged, or married – don’t obsess or focus on the next step whether that is getting married or graduating or having kids,” he said. “You can do that and be distracted your entire life without realizing how many joys you’re missing out on by focusing on what is next. Enjoy the now, and trust Him. He holds your future, not you or anyone else, don’t forget that.”