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Lives of Doctor Wives: To Be or Not To Be......

Saturday, May 9, 2009

To Be or Not To Be......

It was brought to my attention that this important question was asked a little bit ago in the comment section of another question and we didn't want to see it passed by. Please share your experience or opinion on this matter.

My boyfriend is a resident and will be going into his last year soon. He is waiting to match for fellowships and has asked that i move with him if and when he does. The thing is that i have a career and make quite a bit of money and money has never been the issue for me. I want to live. He has asked me for a 5 year commitment to wait for him while he completes his fellowship. I'm 31 and want to get married and have kids, sooner than later. He thinks we can do it all in a few years. The thing is that he isn't around and when things happen in my life like the death of a family member, he is not available to provide the kind of emotional support I need. My issue is communication with him and his understanding my perspective and valuing it and trying to figure out workable solutions. He thinks that just because he is barely trying to survive that I don't have the right to talk about my needs. Is this common?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, you have asked a really loaded question, and it sounds like you already know the answer, but i will give you my thoughts anyway...he has a lot of nerve to ask you for 5 more years when you two are not married...you have no commitment from him. as for 5 more years before babies? he does realize how much harder it is to get prego the older you get? are you absolutely sure he wants to have kids? i have a friend who didn't want kids, and he kept putting his wife off, years went by, and now, it's too late for kids. if you do follow him, you will be in a new place and you will likely continue to be alone for the important events in your life..how much are you willing to give up for him? how much can he give up for you?

you have every right to talk about your needs..he is being selfish for not listening to you and your fears...my hubby always listens to my rants. you should come up with a list of problems and solutions and sit down for a talk. if he isn't willing to talk or listen or compromise? then you have your answer...

good luck! amber

May 9, 2009 at 4:06 PM  
Blogger Tasha said...

I agree with Amber: five years is a long commitment without him making a commitment of marriage back to you. When I got married, I transferred universities (after being there for three years and close to the end of earning my bachelors) and I had a really hard time adjusting to being married to a med student (he was starting his first year and neither of us knew it would be this bad) + being at a new university (I transferred) without any friends. Honestly, a lot of resentment grew inside of me because he asked me to make such a big sacrifice yet wasn't committing any time to me so I felt alone in a new city and for what? Resentment can ruin a marriage/relationship and it has gotten to the point where we've decided we have to work for it--including him making time for me. If he isn't willing to make the sacrifice of time for you, then when will he ever? I'm assuming that if he is going to do a 5 year fellowship in addition to residency, it's likely surgery or some other specialty that will require a lot of time even when he is an attending physician.
Wow, you are in a tough situation. I feel that he needs to contribute more: you can't take that leap of faith on the basis of your situation right now. We're here for you if you want to vent.

May 9, 2009 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

We've talked a lot on this blog about mutual respect and support and not losing yourself in the demands of his career. I think you have to ask yourself, is this the kind of response I can live with for the next 50 years? Yes, we should support our husbands and respect them and their careers, but not to the exclusion of our own needs. The respect must go both ways in order for any marriage - but ESPECIALLY a medical marriage - to work. You will be in my heartfelt prayers, dear Anonymous. It sounds like you have some big decisions to make. {hugs}

May 9, 2009 at 5:37 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I agree with the ladies that you have some tough decisions to make. If he's not willing to listen to your needs now, even though he's "barely surviving", will he be willing to do so five years down the road, when he's ready to start a family? A medical marriage is still a partnership. Yes, for many years it seems to lean more towards the medical career when it comes to needs/wants being satisfied, but the needs/wants of the non-physician are still very important and need to be addressed. I, too, had my share of resentment and loneliness when it came to my husband's medical training, and I'm still learning to accept the fact that he isn't available 24/7. I've had to learn to cherish those times when he IS available, which is much more often now that he's practicing medicine. However, no matter how busy he was with his medical training, he still knew how important I was to the relationship. Good luck. I hope you find the answers you need to help your relationship. Communication with your boyfriend about your feelings is probably your first step.

May 9, 2009 at 8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with all the ladies above. I think sometimes the person going through the medical career training can forget that not everyone's timeline is made according to their own. This is something that I know I have struggled with a little with my husband, and I am sure many of you have also. One thing that I can whole-heartedly say is that your family plans cannot be "put on hold" because you want to get through with residency and fellowship. What happens after that when you take a position in a busy hospital or private practice and are working long hours then? Do you wait until things quiet down? Will they? My husband and I made the decision to have our family come first (even though sometimes it doesn't seem like it does) and have never looked back. There will never be a good time to have kids...and expecting you to wait until you are in your mid-thirties or later is not taking you or the health of your babies into consideration. He needs to think about this...and you need to talk with him. You will make a good decision...and it will be the best for both of you. Good luck!

May 9, 2009 at 10:56 PM  
Blogger Melisa said...

My husband and I decided that family always needed to come first. The truth is that he can't always be there physically, but I also know that we are where he heart is.

I guess you need to decide that if in 5 years you guys still don't get married or have kids, will you still be happy? There are no guarantees in life. He won't be signing a contract saying that it will all happen when he is done (that would be weird, huh). If he is worth giving that up, then great, but if not, are you going to be wishing for the last 5 years back?

And whether or not your man is a doctor, you and your feelings can't always take the backseat. That won't work. Yes, he will have lots of needs that will seem to push you to the back, but it can't always be that way. It is a partnership still.

I know this sounds strange, but I don't feel like second place being married to Brad. I know that he works an insane amount of hours and comes home exhausted and needing to study. I know that I do most of the work at home. But I also know that after God, I'm first in his heart. I don't feel like I take a back seat to his needs and his feelings. He always makes me feel like I'm the most important thing to him. And I suppose the kids too. ;o) Are you willing to accept less than that feeling? I'm not saying our relationship is perfect or that I don't feel neglected when he has a really bad call week, but I know I'm his priority. I guess this doesn't make a lot of sense. It is hard for me to describe feelings. Sorry about that.

Just some thoughts. Good luck.

May 9, 2009 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger Alexandra said...

Well said ladies! Melissa-great point! Tom and I had a date night last night, since we had recieved free movie tickets, and we talked about this very thing.

He wanted me to know that God, then family would always be the order of his priorities and while we both know we are heading into a season of business and crazy schedules that we would agree that if any of that started to tear us away from God or each other, that it would come to an end. If he had to be a trash truck driver or a day laborer, to keep God and family first, then we would both be so happy with that.

We both know that there is a sacrifice involved when you choose a career like being a doctor, but in the end, if you've gone through a program, made alot of money but are alone, unhappy with each other, forgotten God, or have misssed out on your children's lives, then how has that been worth it and what is eternity going to look like for you?

You have to do what's right for you, 5 years seems like a long time to not discuss your feelings or put off things that are truly important to you. We have always said that there will never be a perfect time for marriage, for having kids, or doing something you are passionate about, so you just pray and do what you have to do. It may not be the easiest road, but life goes on and you need someone there to support you!

Good luck!

May 10, 2009 at 2:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the nature of the way you are speaking, it doesn't seem at all like either of you are ready to make the commitment and sacrifices required to make a medical relationship/marriage work.
You are forgetting, as well, that there are numerous options and ways to make it work if you want it to - for instance, you joining him later, or marrying mid-fellowship and having kids after, to space things out a little and enjoy them more.
The biggest mistake is to make ALL life decisions up front! (Even though it's a doctor's mentality to do so.) Take one thing at a time, choose one thing at a time, and likely all will fall into place. Things change, situations change, and even the best laid plans... well, you know the old saying.

May 11, 2009 at 11:13 AM  
Blogger Kathi Browne said...

WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) as we say in the tech world. If he offers you no commitment but expects you to leave a job, family and a dream of a family, then he has already communicated who he puts on the top of his priority list. If you hold these same values, pack your bags. If you don’t… then pack his. Life is too short to sell out your faith or family. Remember that whatever choice you do make, you are also making for your children. Are they going to be happy being so down the list of priorities?

May 12, 2009 at 12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, thank you everyone for your thoughts and support. I'm so glad I found this place. So I asked the bf to clarify what he meant by the 5 year commitment and if that meant no marriage or kids for 5 years and he said, "no that we could have those during that time " and he said that we both have to make sacrifices to make this work, he needs to adjust his timeline as i need to adjust mine. I'm not sure when exactly we could have kids because he's definitely not ready for another 3 years or so. I can tell he is really trying now to make this work but there is so much to consider.

May 13, 2009 at 12:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me again, the other thing that would really help me is if I could give my BF firm examples of HOW he can be emotionally supportive and caring and understanding, while still going through residency/fellowship. He thinks he is getting burnt out from trying to be everywhere for everyone. Any suggestions or feedback from your relationships of how your SOs do what they do?

May 13, 2009 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Kathi Browne said...


If you aren't married, then there's no committment... just words and wishes. My advice would be to date from afar and if he misses you, he'll propose, marry and then move you in.

As for supporting you... see above. Anything else is going to be gravy until he gets more sane hours.

May 13, 2009 at 2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like a girl who is truthful, direct and to the point. Well put!

One other thing I would like to mention is that you cannot force this. It will work out if it is meant to. If he isn't emotionally supportive, caring and understanding now, then that might be a good idea of what he will be like when you are living together/married. One thing I am noticing about most of the women on this blog so far...we are all very capable and independent because we have to be and because we are programmed that way. We get by taking care of our families and homes and ourselves and only see our husbands for a fraction of the time that he spends working each week. Medical training is hard and there is not a lot of room for everyday lives in it for a while. Some weeks will be good and others will be bad. People will wonder if you really are married because they have never seen your husband. Be ready to be on your own a lot, be ready to support yourself or find others that can help lift you up when he's not around. As for emotional support...you should be giving that to each other now. It sounds like you are not getting that now, and it is hard to get someone to change. Doctors in training don't have a lot of time to devote to changing. Go with your gut. Communicate with him. It seems like you are getting some stuff out, but he is still asking you for a "commitment of time" instead of committing to you. In the meantime you can still have his children??!! Surely I read that wrong. Talk with him...let him know what you need. Everything will not be on his time...there has to be some compromise. Commitment is a MUST, and just so we are clear, I mean marriage.

I hope it all works out for you.

May 13, 2009 at 10:42 PM  

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