Over the course of our marriage, I’ve written several posts about being married to someone in medicine – medical school, intern year, residency, fellowship. It’s all well documented here.
But now, we’re finally finally finally coming to end of this very long journey. We’re a month away from Vishnu finishing fellowship and being done with training! WOO FREAKING HOO! I can’t wait!
Now that we’re this.close to the end, I have a slightly different perspective about the past 10 years than I did while we were in the thick of them.
With that, here are a few of my key lessons learned…
Before getting married, talk to your s/o about what the next few years will look like. You obviously won’t be able to anticipate everything that’s going to happen, but don’t go in blind or without talking to others who have been in your shoes.
Your s/o may change as they go along on this journey. Medicine is no joke. The amount of stress trainees face is intense – exams, applications, rotations, boards, actual training, finding a job. It’s A LOT and it would change anyone. There are times when I look at Vishnu and I’m like, “This isn’t the same exact person I met 16 years ago, but this is a man who’s been through his fair of challenges and has come out on top.” It’s important to communicate and check in whenever possible. The question “how are you doing today?” will go a long way.
Independence is the name of the game. Find your own hobbies and things that bring you joy because I can pretty much guarantee that your s/o will not be around nearly as much as you think they will. Even with they are at home, they’ll likely be reading, prepping for the next day, prepping for a conference, etc. Being able to do your own thing will only serve you. And honestly, don’t feel bad about it. Think of this as a unique opportunity to develop and find things you love.
If you have kids, you may end up being the primary parent. This one took me a while to wrap my head around. Not because we want it to be this way but because it has to be. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It’s tiring and overwhelming, and at times, it doesn’t feel fair, especially when you have your own career to think about. However, being in medicine, it’s highly unlikely your s/o will be able to drop what they’re doing at a moment’s notice to tend to your kid. Know that it will be like this for a little bit and deal with it.
Enjoy the process without being too attached to the different milestones. Even though it’s a stressful time, it’s also a beautiful time in your life. My advice would be to enjoy the ride without really focusing too much on specific milestones, dates, etc. You’ll get to the end one way or another, and it’s important to stay flexible and agile throughout.
Don’t dismiss your journey as the support person. This is an important one. My FIL always acknowledges and validates my role in this whole journey, and it’s SO appreciated. While Vishnu’s away doing shifts and taking exams, I’m at home with Kaiden, running a household, and working a FT job. I’m also everyone’s contact person, a planner, a cook, and coordinator. It’s not easy so don’t dismiss the very important role you play and your thoughts and emotions on this journey.
Embrace the uncertain – Plans may change, you may not know when your s/o is coming home, you may have to spend holidays alone, etc. It’s just the name of the game, so be ready for it. Not always fun (and I certainly didn’t always handle it in stride), but like with everything else, know that the uncertainty (for the most part depending on what specialty your s/o is in) will come to an end.
Sometimes it just plain sucks, and it’s ok to feel that way. Don’t feel guilty about not loving this journey. It’s not always fun. In fact, it’s hardly ever fun! And while it’s important to be grateful and all that, it’s also ok to just sit in the suckiness for a bit. Just know that…
As cliche as it sounds, it all goes so much faster than you can imagine. While it can suck sometimes, it really does fly by. I’ve been waiting for this exact moment for so long, and it’s finally here. I can hardly believe it. So when I say enjoy it for what it is and make the most of the training years. Travel when you can. Meet new people. Do what you need to do…all while knowing it will come to an end. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
While being #marriedtomedcine isn’t easy, whenever I think of our journey, my mind always goes to military families who not only deal with all of the above but on a much larger and deeper scale. So yes, acknowledge where you are but keep a grateful heart always. That’s always helped me!