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.