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Lives of Doctor Wives: The purpose of this blog

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The purpose of this blog

I have a confession to make. I don't want you all to get mad at me; I just need to be honest for a moment. When I meet someone and find out they are married to a doctor, do you know what my first reaction is? According to the world at large, it should be jealousy, or resentment, or a snap judgment on how materialistic she is. But my first reaction borders on pity. A part of me hurts for that poor woman knowing some of the things she is probably going through. This is an embarrassing thing to admit because I am crazy in love with my husband and wouldn't trade him or our life together for anything. And I certainly don't pity myself for the things I've gone through. They've made me a stronger person. But I feel for that woman because I know that being married to a doctor isn't what society seems to think it is.

I was hopping around the blogs of some of our new contributors and I ran into one called The Secret Lives of Doctor Wives, written by Gail Konop Baker. I got her permission to use the first paragraph of her first entry.

"Welcome to my new Secret Lives blog.... I've been married to a physician for more than 20 years and as sexist and archaic as it may seem, many people think that marrying a doctor is like the Harvard of marriage. The myth is that the doctor's will be financially and physically set. The children will be smart. Life will be easy. The truth is that many doctor's wives suffer in silence, afraid to complain about the loneliness and emotional deprivation and inability to develop a life outside the home because of the demands of their husband's professions. Afraid to speak out because it doesn't seem possible in this day and age for women to still be living in such traditional and at times oppressive roles. Afraid to speak out because others think the doctor's wife won the marriage lottery. Who are they to complain?"

Who are we to complain indeed. I wish I knew the lady who left the 15th comment on that post so I could use her whole comment. I will steal this sentence though and hope she forgives me: "Being a Dr's wife is like being a single Mom with a part-time lover and financial stability." Most of us still know nothing of the financial stability aspect. Most of us are still in the 'struggling to get by and can't even afford basic cable' stage.

For me personally, I don't feel like I'm stuck in a traditional or oppressive role. I love staying home and supporting my husband as he supports our family. I do, however, take issue with the whole "getting married to a doctor is the marriage lottery" concept. In some ways, I find it hard to blame them. Probably from the outside things look peachy. Sure, the doctor is driving a nice car or lives in a gorgeous house, but did they see the YEARS of sacrifice, blood, sweat, tears, and prayers that went into each brick of that house and each mile in that car? People told me before we started med school, and I believed them, that it would be hard. But until you experience it, you have no idea how hard it truly is. It is like trying to explain the love of a child. Until you experience it, you just have no idea how all consuming it is.

I started this blog with a few of my friends because I am tired of seeing so many of us out there struggling and not feeling understood. I know how many times I feel like I can't complain because when I do I hear the "Oh, but you are married to a doctor" brush off. I know I can't be the only one experiencing this. I know I can't be the only one who avoids telling people what her hubby does because of the reactions. The only one who has experienced going out to eat with new friends and when asked point-blank what it is DrH does, have every jaw drop for that split second and stare at you.

Believe me when I say it is not all miserable. I love it just as much as the next girl when DrH can diagnose or fix something and I can avoid a trip to the doctor's office. This path in life has many many blessings too and I embrace those as well. I just wanted us all to have a place to go to talk about all of the different facets of being married to a doctor. A place to embrace the good and bad. A place where people understand exactly what it is you are going through.

At times I wish this were a private blog so we could freely share our feelings. But then we would miss the chance to reach out to other women who are struggling and looking for a safe harbor.

One last thing and then I'll shut up. I was asked recently to give my opinion on being married to a med student. This is what I told her:

"Okay. You asked for the whole truth and nothing but the truth, right? I'm going to tell it to you, but it ain't gonna be pretty. :o)

It sucks. It is super hard. And it stays super hard for many years. Chaos becomes your "normal." You better have lots of hobbies because you will not be seeing a lot of your hubby. Get used to the idea of him missing birthday parties, date nights, and other major events like weddings and possibly even births. His life will no longer be his own. Accept the fact that if a pager rings, even if what you are doing is important, he'll have to leave. And a set schedule? You can throw that out the window now. He can tell you when he thinks he'll be home, but he can't always know when an emergency comes up. It isn't his fault, it is just out of his control. I can't even tell you all of the vacations and family reunions he has missed.

No, there never is enough free time. Usually our date nights are spent with the kids because he has so few days off, and the kids really need his time. He sometimes went days without seeing them.

In my personal opinion, I wouldn't really recommend it to anyone. If there is anything, and I mean ANYTHING, else he could possibly be interested in, I'd pursue that instead. If medicine isn't an absolute passion, it is not worth it. The money definitely isn't worth the sacrifices they are asked to make. So, if the money isn't worth it, why do they do it? Because they love it. It drives them. It calls to them. There is no other profession that could make him this happy. And for that reason alone, it has all been worth it for me. I'd do it again in a heart beat. I can't even explain how it suits him so perfectly. It is just his element. But I have quite a few friends who, if given the chance to go back in time, wouldn't go through this. That is a hard realization to come to after 8 years and hundreds of thousands in loans. (think over $200,000).

My recommendation? Do a lot of shadowing. Be in a hospital as much as possible. Talk to as many doctors as possible. Experience as much as you possibly can before you get started. Just the time and money spent on MCAT and application fees is astounding. Better to find out before you get in too deep.

Does that help? Did I answer all of your questions? Feel free to ask me anything at all. But remember, you asked me to be honest. :o)"

I do not want to come across as negative. If asked to go down this path again, I'd do it in a heart beat. This is an experience like no other. My husband's passion is for medicine. My passion is to give the wives a place to feel loved and accepted and validated. That is why I'm willing to open my thoughts up to scrutiny and expose myself to potential humiliation. If my vulnerability helps one woman see that she isn't alone in this journey, it will be worth it.

I'm sorry for the long and rambling post, truly I am. I know my writing skills leave much to be desired, but I hope that my emotions will be conveyed regardless of my weakness. Thanks to each one of you who have joined us and I hope you find the support you are seeking.

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Blogger Leidy said...

Everything you wrote is so true...
I actually still have hard time accepting reality, as I type this im mad at Damian because of things that have to do with his schedule and its dumb in my part becaue its not his fault. I am glad this blog exists!

March 26, 2009 at 6:08 PM  
Blogger Davita said...

You took the words out of my mouth.

March 26, 2009 at 6:15 PM  
Blogger Married to a med student - Marissa Nicole said...


Although I have been lucky and my husband has been around for big events such as weddings and holidays (his school is pretty flexible) - but I know that will end when residency begins!

I love it here because my worrying and stress is so NORMAL!!!!

March 26, 2009 at 6:49 PM  
Blogger Gail said...

I'm 100% here with you, Melisa. And ALL of you doctor's wives. It's a strange insular world that is hard to explain to others. But for us. even 10 years out (and I don't want to scare you) the sacrifice is omnipresent. My husband is still on call every 5-6 weeks (depending on how many interventionalists they have) and that means the week of call the recover week.... two semi-normal weeks and then the anxiety week leading up to call... very hard to life for a woman with ambition (not so bad when the kids are small but when they grow up and you want you life back or you want to carve out your own life?) would love to discuss more with anyone... I made mistakes I wouldn't recommend.

March 26, 2009 at 8:30 PM  
Blogger Melisa said...

Leidy - at those times I try to remember it is the situation I'm mad at and not Brad. But it is so much easier to vent at Brad because the hospital doesn't listen! ;o)

Davita - I am glad to know I'm not the only one that feels this way! Sometimes it feels so lonely and isolating you start to wonder.

Marissa - Brad has missed 2 of my siblings' weddings and will be missing a third in July because "residents don't get vacations in July" and we don't live near any family so it wouldn't be a quick drive. Yeesh. This year, he has missed all 4 of our birthdays and our anniversary, but he doesn't live here so that kinda makes sense. ;o)

Gail - thanks for being willing to share your blog on here. We look forward to hearing more from you!

March 26, 2009 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger Tasha said...

completely true. I've realized that no matter how much I hated someone, I would never wish the lifestyle of a med student's spouse on him/her. It is hard when the general reaction is "oh, you're so lucky that you'll be rich." Well, it takes a lot to get there (and I just hope it's worth it!)

March 27, 2009 at 7:14 PM  
Blogger Marissa said...

sooooo true. i am so grateful to you for starting this blog.

April 3, 2009 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Sofia Speri said...

I know I'm coming in way after the fact, but it is so refreshing to read such honesty. We're way beyond med school and residency now, but I have spent years feeling no one truly understands what it's like to be married to a physician (except other physicians' wives). I have been envied, criticized for complaining and misunderstood; and while I adore my husband and support him wholly, and wouldn't change a thing about our lives, it is definitely not what society thinks. Thanks for writing this!!

May 16, 2012 at 1:39 PM  

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