I am a family physician married to an internal med doc, and we've been together since my first year of med school. (We were set up by classmates...) He was a year ahead of me, and we married at the end of my third year, which was a week after his graduation. We just celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary, and we have two kids (3 yr and 18 months...our oldest was born during residency). Here are my thoughts:
1. Marry your soul mate and best friend, whether he's a doc, a mechanic, a teacher, whatever... Yes, it is nice to just be able to "talk shop" with him and know that he totally understands where I am coming from. Yet, I could also see how it would be refreshing to have him do something OTHER THAN medicine to get another perspective on life. No matter what, though, I get to spend every day with my best friend, and that is what really counts. (Now, don't get me wrong...it would be nice to have him bring OTHER skills to the relationship, like gournet cooking, financial planning, massage therapy...but I guess I'll just have to live with the medicine stuff.)
2. The finances are tricky with a two doc family. Yes, good incomes overall compared with some other career paths, but we have about $250,000 total education debt. Yikes. That's more money in pay back each month than most people spend on their mortgage and vehicle. A second to the above regarding consolidation... It's okay to consolidate your loans individually but DO NOT combine both of your loans into one. (In fact, some lending institutions won't even allow you to do this.)
3. Letting medicine overwhelm your life: In residency, we actually set the timer on our stove for 15 minutes at supper time. This was the time to talk medicine; after that, we had to find other topics to discuss so life wasn't ALWAYS medicine. We don't do this anymore, and we still talk about medicine, but we know how to not let it be the all-consuming topic of the day.
4. Letting medicine ruin your life and marriage: Physician marriages have a higher divorce rate than other marriages. Knowing this, we do not allow the "D" word to even enter our vocabulary. We've made a decision that this is and never will be an option for us, and we agreed to never even verbally say the word in conversation to one another. I know of two other marriages between our other classmates that have failed, one within 6 months. The stress is overwhelming, but you need to ACTIVELY prevent it from destroying your relationship.
5. Surviving dual residencies: Do all you can to rearrange call, etc so you can see each other. We would still go days at a time with back to back call and not see each other for 72 hours or more. Whenever possible, we'd try to move schedules to accommodate each other. Or I'd see him or bring him supper when he was on call (and vice versa). When our son was born at the end of my last year of residency (my husband did a 4th year as a chief resident), he'd stay (with our baby) in my call room. Life was insane, but it is doable with effort.
6. Share the burdens: My guy is very helpful, although to be honest, I've spent a lot of time training him to reach this point. We have had major "discussions" (ok, we've had some good fights!) about sharing the load, and he has gotten better. Having the extra burden of child rearing definitely caused some increased tension at times as we debated this division of duty stuff. I am still the main caregiver for our boys and do basically all the housework and all the cooking. He does the laundry on weekends and tries to clean the bathrooms. (This is an improvement!) On the flip side, he will almost always do my call, unless it is peds or OB. (This is feasible in our rural area.) This lets me be the mommy more than the doctor, which makes me happy. This, for me, is a fair trade off. I really believe that the division of home duties needs to be discussed as it can be a source of a lot of tension as things get busy at work and home.
7. Family first, no matter what: Every day, I constantly evaluate what is the best thing to do for my family. I often consider leaving medicine, although financially it is not an option right now. Life is short, and I will never look back and regret not working more. I will regret not being a good wife and mother.
When we got married, our pastor physically wrote US a prescription for marriage during the ceremony. I try to be compliant with his advice, and we basically strive every day to make it work. Plus, it helps that I simply was blessed enough to marry an incredible human being.
Thanks so much for all of your thoughtful responses! It's great to know that so many others are in various stages of a similar situation.
Hearing all of your personal stories continues to amaze and inspire me! Thanks for all of the interesting points you've brought up from finances (debt and loan consolidation) to spliting up family duties!
There is not a doubt in my mind that I have met my soul mate and best friend for life...it is now a matter of deciding whether or not (AND WHEN) to have children. All of your advice has been so helpful--Thanks MOM1ST for discussing so many different aspects of being married to another DOC.
Ideally, we would like to have our first child in my third year and another within 2 years (maybe a year off after school or an extra research year). However, I am in a highly competitive research institution, and am a little bit worried about handling the load, and honestly the potential judgment/prejudice from classmates and professors. Have any of you had any experience with that?
So, I guess my main questions are:
1. Is it NUTS to consider having kids in the third/fourth year? Any advice on timing med school vs. residency. (I'm planning on a 4 year residency + 3 year fellowship)
2. Did any of you experience any not so pleasant reactions while pregnant in medical school?
Well, now I am an FP attending married to a resident anesthesiologist, with 3 kids (5,3, almost 2). Seems so long ago I last posted to this thread...
Our lives as a couple are so much less stressful now that I am in practice and have more free time. Also my hubby's job is now much more conducive to being around to help. One problem I have is that I always resent when he gets a bad call schedule, as if it is his fault. I am working on that, I know he doesn't have any control. Almost 3 years later, I remain glad I am married to another doc! We have gotten a lot better at handling the household-- we both put in all of our effort, and if sometimes my effort is more and sometimes his is more, we know that is the way it goes-- I find we fight a lot less about chores these days. I still love that he understands where I am coming from, and we can discuss medicine together. I still think it is important to cultivate interests together outside of medicine, and we are still working on that.
ResidentMom<br /><br />"If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much." --Jackie O.
Well I can speak to the not being married to a doc side...
When I started med school after being an RN I felt as if I was being groomed for this role of physician, and it felt uncomfortable. Now that I am going to be towards the end of my clerkships that is more comfortable. But I have always loved that my husband (engineer) knew me before and doesn't care much about Me the Doctor, he just cares about me.
As far as talking shop, I have lots of friends I can do that with. Would it be nice? Maybe, but I prefer the balance. Some of our best friends are a dual physician couple and I think they suffer from the too much talking shop syndrome, not to say everyone does. I really like that when I come home I'm not in medicine anymore at all, I'm just me.
I have pretty much done most of the housework. My husband will help when asked but it just seems that, even in my preclinical years my time was more flexible than his so I did it. In my third year I was busy, pregnant and exhausted and our house was dirtier than usual. Now I have been off with our baby for 8 months and I have been doing most of it but he pitches in and is awesome with our baby. When I go back to school (surgery rotation) come January we have talked about how I am going to need help around the house. I have been spending a lot of time getting organized (I am more organized than I ever have been in my life and it feels great) to get ready to go back.
Not sure I am aiming my post at here. It is early, I haven't had much coffee and the baby was up at 430.