We have photographic evidence of what life is like right now for for Kyle. But there's not a good summation photo for what life is like for me right now. So instead, I asked a few friends whose husbands have recently written theses for advice. (I am so blessed and thankful to have friends to talk with about this!)

I got some good tidbits:

Uncertainty is something that you as the wife are going to have to learn to live with. That uncertainty started with each hurdle of getting a PhD--exams, candidacy, and culminates in the ultimate nail bitter: the thesis.
Do your best to support Kyle by talking a lot (cheerleading and learning about the PhD, postdoc, and job process yourself) but realize that you can't do it for him. And remember that grad students without wives still graduate.
The most recent survivor painted a full picture of the experience from the spouse perspective. She said she thought it might help me (and our families) to know what to expect in the next weeks and months.

Life is consumed with writing a thesis - which you're not actually writing. But you feel like you are as you watch your husband suffer through it. It's as though the stress levels of the previous years manifest themselves into 2 months. Before the writing started, you knew your husband would be pulling exhausting days doing experiments with a long-term goal. You knew that he'd be in the lab 7 days a week and that there would be ups and downs in the progress that was made. But that end date was always far enough away that you could get through those cycles knowing that things would work out. And it will work out - but the pressure rises exponentially in the final stretch once that defense date is on the calendar.

Now life involves supporting your husband while he wraps up experiments AND summarizes years of work into one paper AND considers how he will present this to a committee of a few individuals who ultimately give a thumbs up or thumbs down (gladiator style - determining whether he can close the PhD-pursuit chapter of his life) AND figures out where the next job will be. By the way, in the middle of all of this, you are trying to ask questions and be involved and show endless support (while being careful not to add more stress by asking too many questions and being too involved).

At the beginning, your husband might view the writing as welcome break from all the work on the bench. But before long, he'll wonder why he ever complained about working on the bench. He may also wonder why he didn't just teach high school chemistry or major in recreation management. He'll be certain that he would be fulfilled by teaching "get-to-know-you" games or monitoring the rock climbing wall at the boy scout camp. Be prepared to talk him through any situation like that.

You'll never be sure of how thick the tension will be each time you walk into the apartment. And no matter how that tension chooses to show itself, your new job becomes stress reliever. The bad news is, the job doesn't come with a manual. The other bad news (sorry, no good news to this) is that the job is non-stop. You can't choose to let the stress-relief duties take a night off because that tends to compound the tension. And it's best not to add to the existing tension.

But overall, this is the season of being the uber-supportive wife. You have one shot to learn how to do this job. (Thankfully, because the role of PhD candidate spouse is one you want to be promoted from at the first opportunity.) But be assured that your husband will realize how awesome you are once he staggers out of the haze that he's currently in.

The good news is that the finish line is now in sight. And the feeling of pride knowing that your husband has earned a PhD will make this current period a blur once you're able to look back on it. Remind yourself that all of this is temporary. And in a few short months, you'll be married to Dr. Kyle. And you have every right to demand all Christmas cards be addressed that way. After all, you survived.

Get that people? I am earning the "Dr. and Mrs." on my Christmas cards. In the meantime, um, what are you doing after work next week? I need plans.