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Sometimes being married to a med student feels like a full time job of trying to distract myself while my husband is studying at the cadaver lab, memorizing antibiotics, and shadowing an ER doctor in the hopes of matching to a competitive residency. Often I find myself going to my friend’s sister’s cousin’s girl’s night out because I’d rather be with strangers than watching reruns of “Say Yes to the Dress” by myself and wondering when the hubby will be home. Or sometimes, I distract myself by making so many crafts that I literally have nowhere to put them. I mean seriously, how many homemade Valentine’s day decorations can you have? I call this the “I need to stay busy so I don’t become desperate and bother my husband a fourth time during his study session,” game. And at times, this little “game” really wears on our marriage if we’re not actively trying to work on and improve our relationship. Here are a few things we’ve done to keep our marriage strong.
Date each other. Ever since we got married, David and I have been going on weekly dates. We go out for cupcakes. Or maybe a new Indian
restaurant. And when we’re feeling cheap we’ll do something crafty like paint a pink shelf for our daughter’s room. Some weeks, we are so busy that we barely have time to throw a load of laundry in the washer. But dating is a priority, and we fit it in however we can. One busy week, we ran to the mall and picked out a pair of maternity jeans for my ever-growing belly. It was short, but it gave us a few moments to relax and enjoy each other’s company before hurrying home to study. Dating each other is a priority because we want our marriage to outlast medical school.
Go to medical school together. Okay, you don’t actually need to go to class with your spouse. I’d probably embarrass my husband by asking lots of half-baked questions, hoping to sound intelligent. But, there are lots of opportunities to be involved in medical school. I’ve spent several nights quizzing my husband on the different types of drugs; I’m sure I botched the names, but he still knew what I was talking about. As a future doctor and potential benefactor, my husband is invited to lots of fancy dinners. Most of the time I’ve been able to attend them as well. I
put on extra make-up and my infrequently used Marc Jacobs perfume, and we call it a date. Or once, my husband was required to get volunteer hours at a community Halloween event, so I tagged along. He dressed up as golfer, I was a cowgirl, and he got credit for med school. Also, I’ve been attending a couple different medical spouse associations. Often I’m invited to sponsored luncheons in the most ritzy neighborhoods. I meet lots of doctors’ wives and peruse their highly interesting lives while munching on complimentary desserts and elegantly-crafted chicken salad sandwiches. From talking with doctors’ wives, I’ve learned a lot about residencies, matching, and how to survive medical school. Then I come home and snuggle up with the hubby and teach him what he needs to do to get into a derm residency. I get the inside scoop from being so involved, and it’s easier to be supportive of his seemingly endless study efforts.
Create traditions. I decided at the beginning of medical school that I wanted to have breakfast with my husband EVERY SINGLE DAY. This goal didn’t seem so lofty until my husband decided to leave for school at 4:30 am. But I decided to get up with him anyways. It looked
something like this: fumble out of bed in search for my glasses, slowly shovel spoonfuls of Honey Bunches of Oats down my throat with my drowsy eyes closed, make awkward and disconnected conversation about weird dreams I was having, avoid smearing my milk mustache across my husband’s face while kissing him goodbye, and crawl back under the covers. Although I wasn’t quite my perky self, it meant a lot to my husband that I made the effort to get out of bed so he didn’t have to eat breakfast alone. And some mornings when I’m on top of my game, I get up a little early to make chocolate chip pancakes or pumpkin waffles (click here to see more of our early morning breakfasts). Another tradition we have is to “share a memory” before we fall asleep. Every single night, we each come up with one memory of something we’ve done together, and we reminisce. A memory of our first kiss. The day he surprised me with Reece’s Pieces when I was feeling sick. The time we walked to the grocery store in the snow to buy frosting for his birthday cake. The time I dumped a bowl of ice cold water on his head while he was in the shower. When days are hard, this daily tradition helps us remember the good times. It doesn’t take long, and we look forward it throughout the day.
Being a doctor is an incredible opportunity in my husband’s future. But he doesn’t want to become a doctor if it costs us our marriage. And consistently seeking to improve our relationship is what keeps our marriage strong.