today i want to talk about something that's been weighing on my mind lately. in some of the other med wives blogs/forums there's been a downward trend where we've been hearing a lot from dissatisfied wives. the talk has taken kind of a negative turn lately as different people have gone through rough patches in their marriages/relationships. in fact, i posted on A Resident's Wife a while ago about the struggles that orthoman and i have been working to overcome in our marriage. there have been several girls who have posted here and there about going to counseling because they want "out". they can't take this life anymore and it's too much for them.
and once that started spreading around, more people expressed their unhappiness. which is fine - im not judging anyone for that AT ALL. like i just said, i wrote about how even i have been in that boat. but now we have a problem. some of the girls have gotten really scared. they've backed out of the group or receded into the shadows, silently reading the posts and becoming more and more terrified of "residency" and "medicine". so, ive decided to address this issue today. so let's put on our big girl panties and talk, okay? if you have questions you want to ask me, post them and i'll respond. want to go offline? click on my profile and email me.
ladies, repeat after me: life is hard. marriage is hard. medicine has some unique quirks, but so does everything else.
phew! im glad we got that out of the way. i think sometimes it's really easy to get wrapped up in medicine and blame this lifestyle for the majority of our problems. i know im guilty of it, are you? my dad is not a doctor. he did one, maybe 2 semesters worth of college combined. he has a construction company and is a good man. he is a hard working man who put in 80, 90 hour work weeks for years to put food on the table. my parents are still married, but they absolutely had struggles. i have 2 girl friends right now who are going through some pretty bad marriage problems. one is separated and the other is now filing for divorce. the first is married to an engineer, the second to an accountant. MARRIAGE TROUBLES HAPPEN TO EVERYONE. no one is immune and it's not medicine's fault. is medicine a jealous mistress? absolutely. is it to blame for every little thing? definitely not.
knowing my DrH the way i do, i now realize that the struggles we've worked through have more to do with who HE is and who I am rather than him being an intern. yes, the insane hours and exhaustion compound some of the issues, but they're not the root of the problem. and in all honesty, sometimes the fact that MEDICINE is the mistress is actually something in his favor. and no, i dont mean because of the money. it's because i *deeply* respect what he is doing. i dont mean to offend anyone here, but he's home late because he's putting a splint on someone's broken arm. or there was a severe laceration that came in and he needed to consult on. the call that delayed him coming him another hour? he was ruling out compartment syndrome. the things that are keeping him away from home are genuinely important. it's easier to forgive that than it is when they're wrapping up a sale or schmoozing a client. again, im not trying to disparage other professions because frankly, those are all important in their own way (again, i come from a family of laborers, not professionals). so what im really getting at it that i RESPECT what he's doing. if you cant respect his profession than how can you respect him?
and while there are some really frustrating aspects of it all, here are some of the things i have noticed:
- my girl is not in school (she's 2) and so we just moved her bedtime back. it's not possible for every kid, but for her it works. by letting her stay up until dad gets home, she gets a guaranteed 15 minutes or more with him each night that he's not on call. those are 15 really important minutes and make a world of difference. it means he's still on the hook for being a dad each and every day and they BOTH need the love and affection that time affords it.
- YOU make all the difference in the attitudes. again, my girl doesnt always get a lot of time with her dad, but she loves the time she gets. and i made it a rule a long time ago not to gripe about his hours in front of her. we're always very excited to see him walk in the door and run to greet him, even if that's not how im feeling inside. the more support she feels i give, the more she'll give. IRL, most of my friends would be shocked to know that i was once a very dependent person. it took me a long time to break free and become my own person. and when i met pre-med Orthoman, i realized that in order for us to work, i needed to be even more independent.
- little moments can count for a lot, and it's okay to hold onto them. when he comes in and crashes the minute he hits the pillow it can be really upsetting because hey, i want time too! but sometimes he'll reach out and hold my hand while he sleeps. and that means the world to me. the extra long hug when comes home after a hard day becomes really special because you know that he needs you and your support.
- if nothing else, we both know that he's doing exactly what he wants to be doing. i didnt make this decision for him. my dad was roped into a family business and has worked his entire life to try and be happy with that. but he's not. in my life, i made damn sure that he was doing EXACTLY what he wanted to and nothing else. knowing that he's doing what makes him happy changes everything. he can never say i held him back or stopped him from living his dream because it was the opposite. if we cant be together, at least let's both be doing something we feel is worthwhile.
- im an "expect the worst" kind of person. so in many ways, intern year has been easier than i thought it would be. ive seen him more than i thought i would and while i couldnt possibly anticipate all of the stresses we have, i was able to anticipate and prepare for a lot of them. call nights arent awful for me - ive become an independent person who can function apart from her husband. when he's on call, guess what? i dont always just sit around watching bad reality tv - although sometimes i do, any Jerseylicious viewers out there??? i sew, i craft, i do DIY projects. i grab my kid and window shop or meet up with friends. i read books left and right and crossword when i need quiet time. i make those call nights MY nights. sometimes i hate it, but most of the time i actually look forward to staying up too late while doing something fun. so you can either wallow in misery or make it your own. ive chosen the latter and have found happiness. for this reason, medical school was pretty easy for me - he was always working like crazy whether it was studying, doing research or doing clinical rotations. and me? i took care of myself and never once resented him for it.
the funny thing about those few points is that you can apply them to most other marriages. so dont get too bogged down by the "medical life" talk. we certainly have our own set of unique problems, but if your husband was an CPA he would still work like a dog during tax season. construction workers (during non-recessions) have crazy hours once the weather warms up. lawyers always seem to be running around like crazy and chefs have the evening rush.
so buck up girls! YOU CAN DO THIS. you married someone whose personality led them to medicine. but guess what? they were attracted to you: someone who they believe is strong enough to deal with them AND their pager. so have a little more faith in him and in you. yes, doctors get divorced, but guess what? doctors also stay married. in the end, how different are we from everyone else, and does that really matter?