Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Medical School Wife's Journey, Part One

I have been married to a wonderful man named Jared, a fourth-year medical student, for the past two years. We also have a toy poodle puppy named Henry (whom I'm sure you will hear WAY too much about later). To see what I'm working with, check out one of our Christmas card photos:

Aren't they handsome? I am such a lucky girl.

Jared and I actually met our freshman year at Texas Tech University. I knew from the beginning of our relationship Jared wanted to attend medical school. In fact, his motivation is one of the things which attracted me to him. When we got engaged, I thought I understood what life as a medical student's wife would be like. Yeah he might have to go to the hospital occasionally, but life would go on much the same.

Well...not exactly. Medical school turned out to be a much larger investment on both our parts than I imagined. Now I am not looking for sympathy with this post. My goal is to be real. When I first started getting discouraged, I read several medical school wives' blogs to get some encouragement. Their blogs made it sound like medical school was a fairy tale, which is NOT what I was experiencing. I want to put to the truth out there.

So here is the truth about some of the hurdles I have faced on this journey.

Hurdle #1: Expectations.

As I mentioned, I thought life would go on much the same after Jared and I got married. We spent almost every waking moment together during undergraduate, so I thought when we got married, we would spend even more time together. I mean, we would be living together, right? Well...not exactly. Medical school requires a MUCH bigger time commitment than I thought. Jared has to study to be successful. Medical school is not like undergraduate where you can scan the book and make it through the test. When you think about it, the study requirement makes sense. Who wants a doctor who just knows the "gist" of the information?

My unhappiness with the limited time we could spend together made Jared feel guilty. It was hard for him to focus on studying and to focus on me when we actually did something together. I did not want to pressure my husband to spend time with me through guilt. I had to adjust my expectations and realize in order for us to make it through the medical school journey, we had to be a team. Jared has always been good about setting aside special time for me, so I needed to give him the credit he deserved.

Hurdle #2: Perspective.

Medical school does not just require sacrifice from the student. It requires sacrifice on the part of their family as well, something I did not initially understand. (I will say I am also not the only one sacrificing for Jared's dream!) After Jared's third year of medical school began, I started getting bitter about how much sacrifice this process required. I wanted to start our lives, and it felt like we were held back by how much he had to do. My marriage started to suffer because of my bitterness. I knew I had to do something.

My mom suggested we do a Bible study together. I wanted to do one which applied to my situation, so after a quick search, I found The Prescription for the Doctor's Wife. I highly recommend it even for women whose husbands works a lot.

One of the lessons I learned from this book was my husband is not the enemy, and I should not think of him as one. He is just trying to do well in medical school and ensure a future for our family, after all!

The second lesson I learned was we have the same calling in life. I love working and helping people, and so does Jared. We just do it in different ways. Why would I want to stand in the way of his calling?

This book helped me gain a new perspective on my situation, which you must have during medical school.

Hurdle #3: Uncertainty.

This is the current hurdle I face as a medical school wife. In about a year, Jared will be done with school and transition to residency. There is no telling where we might end up! While the uncertainty of our situation keeps me up at night sometimes, I am grateful whatever happens or wherever we go, Jared and I will be together.

Any medical school wives or women whose husbands work a lot identify with these hurdles? How about any men?