6 Tips for Partners #MarriedToMedicine
July 1 is the official start of the resident education year. This is a huge change for recent medical school grads who are stepping into their next phase of their training: 80+ hours a week of on-the-job learning and patient care. It's also a significant life shift for spouses or partners, those often referred to as #marriedtomedicine.
Five years ago my husband and I got married a few months before he started his intern year. As his fellowship is wrapping up and he starts his first 'real job' at 32 as an attending physician, I thought I'd share some wisdom for those beginning on the journey.
I'll start by saying this will be different for everyone. We were newlyweds living in an apartment and stayed in the town where we met. We didn't have children yet, and I was working full time. I had friends in the area already and an established life. I know our story would have been different if any of those factors were otherwise.
Without further adieu, these are some things I’ve learned along the way that will hopefully help others embarking on the same journey.
1) Create rituals: Residency schedules are complete insanity, particularly during intern year. Early on we decided that Thursday nights would be sacred. We'd get take out and watch a movie and dedicate ourselves to relaxing and forgetting the world outside. 5 years later we have held this up 95% of the time and we both look forward to it.
2) Your partner would rather be with you: As hard as it is to come home to an empty house, eat dinner by yourself, and spend nights alone, as much as you long for your partner to be with you, just remember they want to be with you too. Being at home with the person you love is 100x better than being at the hospital.
3) Give some grace: I believe in equity to a fault. I want house chores to be split 50/50 and it is easy to get frustrated when there are dishes in the sink or grass that needs mowing that is "their job." Marriage is a partnership and sometime we each have to pick up the slack for the other person. It's not fair to ask someone who's worked 16 hours to empty the dishwasher. Pick your battles.
4) Take all the vacation: Learn what their vacation benefit is and take every day of it. Having trips to look forward to is great for your mental health and planning gives you something to occupy your time. I also suggest al staycation at a local hotel just to switch things up! We occasionally go back to our wedding venue for the night which is a great place to reflect and remember why we are married.
5) Rely on your village: It is easy to feel isolated, especially if social events mean couples getting together. Find hobbies, join a gym, plan girls nights, visit your family, connect with your neighbors, go to networking happy hours. Think of this as a time to invest in yourself while your partner is investing in their career.
6) Bond with the kids: If you are on the female side of this equation you can end up doing much more of the childcare. Create opportunities for your spouse to spend 1-1 time with your babies and strengthen their bond. We recently built a swing set and my husband and daughter go out almost every night to play on it together.
Medical training is a season in life and I promise that it will get better. Your partner still may have to work some holidays or take overnight call but the hours decrease and they have more control over their schedule. You can do it!