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Advice for spouse

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  • Advice for spouse

    My husband is just a few months into residency and I know he'll be quite busy for the duration. I was just curious if anybody had general advice as a spouse living with her husband who is away from family for the next several years. Thanks!

  • #2
    As you already are aware, his schedule will likely be all over the place.  Long hours and hours that vary from week to week or even day to day are common, especially depending on the specialty.  And even when he's not at work, he might have various research projects and other odds and ends that he has to do throughout the year in addition to his already ridiculous workload.

    The advice I have is pretty standard marital advice, but you have to be more flexible, more forgiving, and willing to contribute more to the family than you might normally have to.  Don't think of it as 50/50, but as 100/100, where both of you will have to pick up the slack of the other from time to time, and during his residency he might not be contributing 100% at home, but he is slaving away at work far more than most spouses ever do.  That's not to say that you should let him walk all over you or let him neglect the family.  You should absolutely set expectations and let him know when your feelings are hurt.  But as far as his work goes you should be as accommodating and supportive as possible.

    Most of all, stay positive, stay in shape, and don't start living like a doctor's wife just yet.  It'll payoff!


    • #3
      If it's you two (no kids) making an effort to be home when he can be or to do things when he can, occasionally bringing in dinner when he's on call or having breakfast made when he gets off a night shift - those things go my husband mega bonus points.  Don't get me wrong, he should still make an effort to make YOU feel special too - but it can be difficult when sleep deprived and away so much.  Plan something for one of the weekends off - just a local activity that you can both look forward to.

      If you have a job - being good at it, putting in full time effort and feeling like you're contributing can help you stay sane during the next few ridiculously busy years.

      When our kids came my husband took care of most home things (dishes, laundry) but I still did grocery shopping and cooking and we shared childcare.  Once there were 3 kids he stayed home full time since it didn't pay to have both working. Currently, my husband and kids are out of town visiting while I work all weekend - it's a win-win because he gets help with the kids, they have fun, I don't feel guilty for catching up on blogs and notes and sleeping in until 11! Make friends with other residency spouses - you've got a lot in common and it's nice to know that you have similar experiences.


      • #4
        I'm the spouse of a former emergency medicine resident who switched programs after a year. We went from NYC (fun!) to Dallas, TX (do I have to go?) and we are originally from Seattle. Dallas actually, was just fine (and really good for husband), but it's not who we are and we've been back in Seattle now for some years. My advice is to think about both you and him.

        Find ways to do things you like without him. I joined a food book club and trained for a marathon. I also made sure he had good food (healthy, made from scratch) at almost any time. I did the grocery shopping, the bills, the a lot of the clean up and I worked full time. I did not really invest that much in friendships because I knew we probably wouldn't stay and there wasn't anyone I just fit with. Honestly, the above activities took up the bulk of my bandwidth. The marathon was actually a lifesaver as I was more stressed than I realized and running was an incredible stress reliever. I wasn't the marathon sort, I'm curvy and slow. But, I did the NYC marathon and finished with a smile on my face. Mostly, I just tried to do small things that made his life easier. The good thing about residency is that it is temporary.


        • #5
          What type of residency? Is it known to be malignant?

          While there's no such thing as an easy residency, there is substantial variation from one specialty to another, and within a specialty, some will be more demanding than others.

          If you were together during rotations in medical school, you should have a pretty good idea of what residency will be like. Busy, tiring, stressful, and exciting all at the same time. There might not be much left in the tank at the end of the workday.


          -Physician on FIRE



          • #6
            If no kids...probably good to find some good mentally engaging work so you dont get bored. It is extremely hard to be a doctors spouse. If not in the medical field it can be hard to be understanding of the, what is in reality neglect of your relationship and secondary status. Thats unfortunately the way it is and almost no specialty is free from a spouse feeling that way at times. Find something fun to do or makes you feel engaged and busy. Trying to not feel slighted when the small amount of time off is even more reading, or needed sleep or maybe grumpiness...

            Enjoy the time off together. Residency gets easier, even if the workload doesnt get better it gets more manageable as you learn more and are a better physician.