Life Married to a Medical Resident

When you get married, you have no idea what life has in store for you, the good, the bad, the ugly.  The first years of marriage are generally good; then there are some tough moments in there, mixed in with the realization that marriage evolves.  Marriage changes; it makes you more like best friends—and that is generally a good thing, too.  Then there are the precious amazing moments that are sometimes so fleeting, you wish you could just hold onto them forever but you generally only realize them after they’re done and over with. Marriage is indeed a roller coaster ride full of ups and downs. You just need to be willing to ride it out all the way until the end.

When it comes to eventually getting around to having kids, some people wait longer than others.  In our case, we waited until we felt we had had our adventures, and then the doctor said, ” If you are thinking of having kids, you better have them soon.” We waited 10 years…which in a way, is great, because we know each other quite well at this point and we can embark on another new “adventure” without feeling like we’ve missed out on life.  Adventures tend to be those things we call interesting and difficult times.  Having a kid is one of them. Another “adventure” has been residency.

I am the wife of a first-year Surgical Resident, also known as an intern. Yes, my husband became an intern….even when he was over the age of 30. I had to laugh when I heard that. Being the wife of a resident is not easy. Residents generally work 13 to 18 hours every day with maybe, if they are so lucky, one day a week off. One day is never enough.

Never enough. Perhaps that should be the title of this post. Never enough for either him or me, or for our toddler.  One day together with your son, one day to run errands, one day to enjoy the sun that he never sees because he’s stuck inside all day, one day to play with your dog, clean his car, do the handyman things, oh…and one day to spend with his wife. It’s not easy for residents, and it’s not easy for the wife. I don’t think patients understand how much of the lives of doctors is given up so they can care for their patients. Residents also don’t get paid much, meaning an additional strain on the family and relationship. When all is said and done, they make roughly $2-$3 an hour. It’s really quite sad.  However, I’ve been learning to deal with the situation, with some success.

Being the wife of a medical resident means being patient, being kind, being forgiving, being everything. And while there are tough, very tough days, I thank my lucky stars for a good man who has chosen a career saving lives, and that on his one day off, he spends it with us trying to make up for lost time. It’s not easy but that is what it is.  If there are other mothers or partners out there of residents—or of other men with similarly time-consuming jobs–who feel the same way, please feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to hear your stories.

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