Monday, August 31, 2015

#MedSchoolMonday | How to Stay Close to your Med Student Spouse

Welcome back to Med School Monday! 

Last week I posted an interview with my husband about the second week of medical school. Feel free to go read it. Jeff's so cute and humble about his hard work. This week I wanted to share some tips for how to stay close to your medical student spouse.

When I think back to summer 2014 a few anxieties spring to mind. I was so worried. I listened to doctor-wife veterans about the doomed fate of my marriage; how I would never see my husband; how he would never have time for his family. I was terrified.

Jeff heard at one point that becoming a doctor; I.e., going through med school, residency, fellowship, etc. can make or break a relationship. We resolved to let becoming a doctor make our relationship. While that goal was established before he even took the MCAT, we are closer now than ever. We truly are! Because of this, I want to share four fundamentals that are helping this couple out, but first a gentle disclaimer:

This post is not to discount legitimate and sad testimonials. I am a part of a few doctor's wife groups and I see some pretty discouraging posts every day. I believe that we will have many hard years ahead and the struggles may continue even once Jeff is a doctor. Additionally, my husband and I are equally engaged in giving our marriage everything we've got. My husband is amazing and that makes all the difference.

1. M A K E  Y O U R  S P O U S E ' S  N E E D S  A  P R I O R I T Y

I love talking. I could talk all day. I especially love talking to Jeff. He is the Calvin Coolidge type and I speak enough for three of us. This is something worth sacrificing, and believe you me when I say that's a struggle.

I know that my husband needs undistracted study time every day (probably why he spends so much time on campus). I make this a priority. I do my best to distract myself so I don't lay on our bed and tell him everything going on in my head.

My husband also appreciates an early bedtime. I don't. I like staying up. Nevertheless, I try to make sure he at least goes to bed by 10:30 instead of talking and keeping him up.

Sometimes Jeff has an upcoming test and this means we need to forgo something I want to do. That is okay. These are all okay! It's like I'm investing in our relationship by showing that I see and respect my husband's needs.

2.  L E A R N  Y O U R  S P O U S E ' S  L O V E  L A N G U A G E S

Have you read Gary Chapman's the Five Love Languages? Okay, that is your first place to start, my friend. When I was in my Family Studies classes at BYU we talked about the five love languages at least once in all the core classes. This is my starting point for improving all my relationships, but especially in our marriage.

Let me lay out our experience with this book:

Jeff ranks Acts of Service towards the top of his love languages. Words of Affirmation is further down his list. This is inverted for me. I love receiving genuine sentiments of appreciation and affection. Jeff loves when I do the dishes for him. Conversely, when I compliment Jeff he feels like I am buttering him up and when Jeff serves me I feel like he's picking up slack. We both feel uncomfortable in those situations, even though we are both treating each other the way we most want to be treated.

Knowing this about each other helps us streamline our relationship. I can show him exactly how I feel by cooking dinner, cleaning the house, and doing the laundry. That's just my husband though. What is your spouse's love language? Share them in the comments!

PS - You can take the love language test free here.

3.  G I V E  1 0 0  P E R C E N T

I read in a doctor wife forum the other day that 50-50 is what you give in a divorce and 100 percent is what you have to give in a medical school marriage.

Everyone's 100 percent varies in appearance. The key is to give your marriage everything you've got. If that means working, great. I have a degree that yield entry-level jobs a plenty, so my 100 percent takes place at home. I make sure Jeff's needs are met and exceeded where possible. I am not perfect, but I do give my best every day.

Jeff gives 100 percent, too; he does everything he can now so he can have a family-friendly lifestyle later. In addition to his scholastic efforts (he was first in his class last year), he makes time for our family, takes me on dates, and makes sure I feel appreciated.

I don't expect reciprocation. My husband does reciprocate, but I try not to expect anything. That is service. I take responsibility for my own happiness and meet my own needs so I don't expect my husband to. I posted about that a little while back, if you want to read about that. This leads to my final principle:

4.  B E  G R A T E F U L  +  S E T  L O W  E X P E C T A T I O N S

Gratitude and low expectations are key to a happy marriage. Simply don't expect anything. Low expectations often means exceeded expectations. This can sometimes be a bit of a mind game; yes, you can feel entitled to some elements in a marriage, but pretend like you aren't entitled to anything.

When I do this, I find myself thinking, "Wow! He didn't have to do that." It makes me feel grateful for what I have instead of mourning what I don't have.

Here's an anecdote: I love to dance. Jeff doesn't. I use to coerce him into taking me to dances and such. Recently we were talking about this and our conversation went like this:

Me: I always felt a little empty once I would get you to dance with me because I knew you hated it.
Jeff:  (Jokingly) Yeah, that's because it was unrighteous dominion.

Once I lowered my expectations I became much more aware of the sweet things Jeff was already doing for me.

I N  S U M

Maintaining a happy relationship takes some intention. Through making your spouse's needs a priority, applying the five love languages, giving 100 percent, and being grateful/setting low expectations, your spouse will sense your care and appreciation for him/her.

In our case, our marriage has grown stronger in medical school than at any other time (in four years) by applying these guidelines. I love my husband, but more importantly he knows that I love him. Because we serve each other we look forward to being around each other.

PS - If you missed last week's posts, go check them out! I shared an interview with my husband, some family updates and a printable, and a wearable blanket for baby tutorial!

Have a great week.


  1. Such an informative and helpful post! So translatable to other professions and other things that could take a husband away from his wife for longer periods of time. Good work!

    Lottie xx

  2. I love this!! Keep these tips coming!

  3. Ok, so I don't know how I missed this great post. It was soo good!!

    Scott does the same thing when I compliment him, he thinks I am buttering him up.

    I just think, where did you learn that. It's funny how much coming home to a hot meal can mean to someone. I'm glad it's not sparkling toilets everyday. So appreciate my crock pot and pressure cooker.

    Loved, Martin Luther's quote at the end. :)