Tag Archive for wives

A 10-Year Anniversary Photographic Journey

Our Wedding Day_6.15.2002

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the day I said, “I will,” to my husband Shane Peyton Alexander. Since that moment, we have lived in five different cities and eight different homes. We have earned three advanced degrees, worked with four churches, and made many new friends. We have had three children and gotten a dog. We have lost two grandparents. Our parents have started new careers, or retired from old ones. We have been able to travel by ourselves almost every year, thanks to the grandparents. We have had difficult times. We have had wonderful times. We still love to talk about baseball, take walks together, and laugh. We do not get to see near as many movies as we did or be by ourselves as much as we’d like, but we are happy. We are still stubborn, but we have learned to give in to each other. We are a good team (read Shane’s recent post about our marriage here). We are thankful for each other.

For today’s post, I decided to take a walk back through these 10 years by posting some pictures of us together (As the years have gone on, it was difficult to find pictures of just the two of us!). I’ve included the year and the city we were living in at the time.

Wedding Day: June 15, 2002.
We were living in Abilene, Texas, when we got married, where I was finishing up a Master’s degree in English at ACU. Shane had just graduated with his Master of Divinity a few weeks prior. We got married in the Houston church where I grew up. Five weeks after our wedding day, we were living in Louisville, Kentucky, and I was beginning my Ph.D.

Leaving the church

This was my first time to ride in a limo, which is surprising considering I used to want to own one when I was a young girl.

Year One (2002-2003). Louisville, KY.

Shane and Kara Poe Alexander in the snow 2012

Snow in Louisville…in November!

Shane and Kara Poe Alexander at UofL 2003

On UofL’s campus.We loved Louisville and the people we met while we were there.

Year Two (2004). Louisville, KY.

Shane and Kara Poe Alexander, 2004

This picture was taken at my sister Kellee’s rehearsal dinner. We always loved excuses to come back to Texas!

Year Three (2005). Gatesville, TX.

Shane and Kara Poe Alexander, 2005

Here I am, six months pregnant with our first child. We are on a “babymoon” trip to San Diego with some friends from college. I had finished my comprehensive exams and was writing my dissertation at the time.

Year Four (2006). Gatesville, TX.

Dr. Kara Poe Alexander and Family_2006

I graduated with my Ph.D in May 2006 and started working at Baylor in August 2006. I couldn’t find a picture of just me and Shane of that day, so here’s almost one-year-old Elizabeth with us.

Shane and Kara Poe Alexander, 2006Before I started working at Baylor, Shane and I took a trip to see my dad in Washington D.C. He gave us a tour of the U.S. Capitol, and here we are at the very top of the rotunda, after taking hundreds and hundreds of steps to get to the top. We did not feel very safe standing here, and the people looked like little bugs down below. I wrote this blog post about our trip. Whew. I’m feeling anxious just remembering the height!

Year Five (2007). Gatesville, TX.

This picture was taken during our 10-day trip to Italy, our gift to ourselves for me graduating with my Ph.D. in 2006 and him being so supportive, flexible, and encouraging during this time.

Year Six (2008). Waco, TX.

2008_Shane and Kara Poe Alexander

This picture was taken on our actual anniversary. Peyton, our second baby, was born three months prior. We went out to dinner at a nice restaurant in town.

Year Seven (2009). Waco, TX.

Port Aransas 2009

We like going to the beach during the summer, especially with the kids. I grew up going to South Padre Island every year because my grandmother only lived 30 minutes away. This picture was taken during our trip to Port Aransas with Shane’s family.

Year Eight (2010). Mexia, TX.

At Fenway Park

Here we are in Boston at Fenway Park. The Texas Rangers were playing the Red Sox the night we were there. We’ve been to four other parks together where we’ve seen the Astros (my favorite team) play (Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Arlington, and Houston). Hopefully, we’ll get to go to many more baseball parks together!

Year Nine (2011). Mexia, TX.

2011_Shane and Kara Poe Alexander

Here I am eight months pregnant with Levi and at the beach with the family. This picture was taken at Galveston.

Year Ten (2012). Mexia, TX.

Kara Poe Alexander and Shane Alexander_2012

Here is the most recent picture taken of us together back in March.

Here’s to many more wonderful years together.

Why It’s Important to Mentor Female Graduate Students and Young Professors

Academic Mentor Cartoon

In academia, talk abounds about graduate education, tenure, getting a job, low wages and poor working conditions, and balancing personal and professional lives. One recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education by Berkeley Professor Mary Ann Mason is particularly sobering. Mason’s article, “The Future of the Ph.D,” addresses several interesting points about the overabundance of PhDs and the lack of tenure-track jobs. She also points out how difficult it is to have a family and a tenure-track job. Here are a few quotes I found provocative (if you are interested, you should also read through the comments section of her article; so many heartfelt, revealing and personal responses that provide their own form of mentoring):

“In a survey we conducted of all doctoral students at the University of California, more than 70 percent of women and over half of all men said they considered a career at a research university to be too hard-driving and unfriendly to family life.

“A male Ph.D. student in the survey characterized the common sentiment when he wrote that he was ‘fed up with the narrow-mindedness of supposedly intelligent people who are largely workaholic and expect others to be so as well‘.”

“A female student wrote, ‘Since beginning my doctoral work, I have become convinced that very few, if any, female professors are able to have stable, fulfilling family lives of the sort that I wish for (a stable marriage and children)’.”

Female graduate students who do become mothers during their doctoral-study years are very likely to give up on their dreams.”

“Too few universities are paying attention to the needs of graduate-student parents, or providing mentoring on how to balance family and career in a stressful profession in which, arguably, the most serious stress—obtaining tenure—also occurs during the years when women will have children.”

These findings do not come as a shock to me as a professor. I have now experienced what it’s like to be on the tenure track, which is difficult in and of itself. But I also know what it’s like to be a woman, a mother, and a wife in this highly stressful job.

But as a graduate student working on my master’s and then Ph.D., I never would have guessed it was this way–so difficult to “have it all” and find balance between work and home.  I even had wonderful mentors throughout graduate school, but we never really talked about marriage and children or what it would be like to have a family and work in academia.

With results and outcomes like these–where women are leaving the profession because they have babies, or where they leave because they are denied tenure at such high rates (mothers even higher)–we are not left with many options. Even though more than half of graduate students are women, if we do not deal with the intersection of a woman’s personal life with her career, then we are not going to have a range of women in academia. We might still have unmarried women or women without children, but we may lose a large percentage of women who can teach and mentor others about what it means to have a family and a career in academia.

In short, we need mentors. We need mothers who are willing to share their experiences–the good and the bad; the sacrifices they have/had to make; the joys that have come along the way; and why being a mother in academia might still be worth it. We need mothers who talk frankly about having children in graduate school, about having children on the tenure-track, about not having children at all. We need mothers to share their stories, for it is their stories–our stories–that will educate others and better inform female graduate students about the realities of being a mother in academia.

I hope you will share your story; it may make all the difference.

Up In the Clouds or Down on the Ground: When Marriage Is Difficult

A few weeks ago I was on the couch reading a book. My husband was sitting on the other couch reading a book. We had been there a while when I glanced over at my husband. The title of the book caught my eye. Here is what I saw.

What If I Married the Wrong Person?

(Of course, I didn’t take a picture of him actually reading the book, so this picture will have to suffice.)

Before I had a chance to process the title of the book, he caught my eye and smiled. Then he began giggling.

I asked, “WHAT are you reading?”

Apparently, one of his mentors was clearing out some of his books and my husband–hilarious as always–couldn’t resist taking this one. He and a friend even brainstormed all the ways I should “discover” this book, even anticipating how I would react when I saw it.

Knowing the two of them, I laughed. It was a joke. He got the book as a joke. He doesn’t think that about me (whew!).

For several weeks since, I have been wondering about this book.  It’s been sitting on the counter for a while. Lingering. Waiting for one of us to read it. We still haven’t, and I don’t know if we will. But, I finally put it on the bookshelf next to C.S. Lewis, our Bibles, and some library books (for now). Guests perusing our bookshelf will see this…

What If I Married the Wrong Person? Bookshelf

I wonder what they will think when they notice the title.

I haven’t read the book, nor do I think I will, but I do think the book poses an interesting question,

“What if I married the wrong person?”

The week before I got married, I was riding in the car with a female mentor of mine. She had been married for almost 30 years at the time. She told me, “Kara, one day, you may regret your decision to marry Shane. You may come to a point where you do not love your husband. You may want a divorce. You may become resentful, or angry, or discontent. And I want to tell you that it’s okay. At various points throughout my marriage, I felt this way, too.”

As a person a few days shy of getting married, this conversation, frankly, shocked and surprised me (yes, I was naive). I couldn’t believe that this woman I admired and sought to emulate had felt this way about her husband. She always seemed so happy in her marriage. She respected, admired, and publicly demonstrated her love and devotion to her husband.

But she had gone through low times, too. She wanted me to know that if (or when) I felt this way to remember that I was not alone. Others had been there.

My friend proceeded to reveal to me what she did during these times.

She prayed.

She prayed for her husband.
She prayed for herself.
She prayed that God would help her focus on the things she first loved about her husband.
She prayed that God would help her fall back in love with her husband.
She prayed that God would keep her committed to her husband, even when her heart did not feel it.

I cannot count how many times I have come back to this conversation throughout my soon-to-be 10 years of marriage.

I have remembered her words. 

When I was hurt by my husband.
When my expectations were not met.
When I was disappointed.
When I wanted to be alone.
When I was depressed and lonely and sad.
When I disliked something about my husband.

I remembered: Perhaps my immediate situation will not change, but, through prayer, the way I feel about it can change. I can’t control what my spouse does; I can control my reaction. I can control my feelings about him. I can still choose to love him.

My friend may never know how much her words impacted me. And as I was soon to learn, marriage is not easy. But, my friend’s willingness to share something so personal, so real, has been a source of encouragement to me again and again. You see, her words taught me, first, to take my struggles to God. And, second, to look at myself…the only person in the marriage I can control.

Note: I don’t mean to trivialize marriage or the real difficulty of making marriage work. Marriage is hard. It, literally, takes two people to work. I know many people who have tried for years to work on their marriage, only to be met with abuse, affairs, or an unwilling, unbending spouse. I only point out here that being honest and real about marriage–rather than idealistic–can make a difference in the lives of young people about to embark on the journey.