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Lives of Doctor Wives: Hush

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


My boyfriend is in his 3rd year of internal medicine residency, and we are living together this year. I though this would mean we would have more time together, but he says he needs an hour to relax when he comes home without having to make conversation, and since he has to go to sleep early and also work on reports at home, I feel like we never have much time to talk. Is it typical for residents to not want totalk to their significant others for an hour after they get home? I'm worried if he will still be like this next year, and if this will be a problem once we have kids.


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Blogger Alexandra said...

I just wanted to say that I'm sorry about your problem, this is not normal at our home or have I heard of this before. Hopefully some of the other ladies might have dealt with this or heard something like it. Like you said, this could be a real problem not only when you have kids, but for your marriage in general. I'm sure you would like some quiet time to, but when time is so short during medical school and residency, we have to put aside our needs sometimes to be able to spend time with the people we love. Communication is so important in a relationship and if one doesn't have time to talk or grow one's relationship, it can very easily fall apart under the stress. I will keep you guys in my prayers and hope that God will soften your BF heart and show him that spending time with you is a priority that can't be shrugged.

October 28, 2009 at 10:59 AM  
Anonymous Jackie said...

So I disagree with the last comment and because I institue this rule.

My boyfriend is in his thrid year as well, we dont live together but I have the cable at my apt, so he is usually there when I get home. We have this rule but its for me. I work 9 hours a day, I talk to customers all day, I am on the go and when I come home I need an hour to just sit, unwind, and relax.

Sometimes he wants to get right on top of me, hugging me, asking about dinner and I just can't take it. I need my time to just put work behind me and have a few min of just me time.

I actaully had this talk with my boss who needs the same thing and has kids. He says he comes home, gives them both a hug then goes upstairs to his room, closes and locks the door to change out of work clothes and catch up on the news for 20 min. After he feels comfortable he is downstairs and ready to play with his kids.

I think as his job gets more stressful this will continue. Just remember he needs a few min to relax and its not just cause he is n med school, sometimes all of us high anxiety people need to call a 30-60 min timeout :)

October 28, 2009 at 12:08 PM  
Blogger Cheri said...

I like the previous comment, do enjoy some time to myself after a long day at the office. I would suggest possibly talking to him about taking a 20 minute or 30 minute chill time. Maybe this can be a compromise.

October 28, 2009 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

T.R., I think that your boyfriend needing some quiet time is normal. I definitely understand that it can be frustrating and easy to take it personally when our DHs are too worn out to talk at the end of a long day. Sometimes my husband and I sit through an entire dinner in silence, and even if I want to tell him some detail of my day, I can see that he doesn't have the energy to give me that attention. Some nights are definitely better than others, though, and while it's been an adjustment, we have learned to savor our time together on a weekend day (usually Sunday afternoons). I think it may also come down to personality types. Introverts find hours of "face-time" draining, while extroverts are energized by contact with others. I don't really have any concrete advice--I just wanted to say that you're not alone, and neither is your boyfriend. This is one of the many challenges that we may face being the significant others of doctors.

October 28, 2009 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger b-rad said...

I'm with Lex. The second Brad comes home he is 100% focused on our kids and on me.

Maybe he could take his break before he came home? I don't think it is fair to ask my kids to leave their daddy alone since they only get an hour or two with him before getting ready for bed. He can take a break after they are in bed. Thankfully, Brad agrees with me. And I happen to think he is one of the most amazing and involved dads in the world. I'm blessed to have such an amazing father to my children and a fanastic husband.

October 28, 2009 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Melisa said...

Oops. That was me. I was logged into Brad's account to check his call schedule and forgot to log out.

October 28, 2009 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

B-Rad - that's hilarious!

Anyway, yep, I think once (if) you have kids, then this could be a serious problem.

Hopefully, it won't continue.

I'm not sure I could handle that.

October 28, 2009 at 12:51 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

I completely understand this rule for bad days, but it shouldn't really be necessary on good days. I am home all day with only a toddler and infant to talk to so I really look forward to the moment he walks in the door.
That said, I also encourage my husband to let me know when he needs some "alone time" because frankly, I'd rather he unwind so he isn't so cranky to me or the girls. I don't take it personally when he goes into his room and closes the door. On especially bad days, I'll draw him a hot bath right before he gets home and leave him alone for an hour. I have found it actually helps his mood if he vents to his colleagues on particularly bad days, because his colleagues actually understand what he is going through. This sucks sometimes, since I'd rather he talk to me but I understand and know he'd understand if our circumstances were switched.
I should also say, he makes sure I get a break when I have particularly bad days.

October 28, 2009 at 1:41 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

grr... blogger just made my long comment vanish.

Anyway! A shorter version of my vanished post -

For my husband, this behavior is (sadly) normal. His job is stressful, and he doesn't want to have to chit chat (i.e. effort) when he comes home. He does play with our son though, but no real "duties" with our son (I don't ask him to change diapers, feed him, etc. I just let them enjoy each other) He does this for about 20 minutes. Then he falls asleep on the couch watching the simpsons. I ask him about his day and he says "you know I don't want to talk about my day, I want to leave work at the hospital" how can I begrudge him that? Then he has to go study/do reports/etc. He is busy. It sucks. But it is what we signed up for. Occasionally he will vent to me about work, and I savor it, because it doesn't happen very often. I am told that this ugly part of residency doesn't happen forever.

I also like Kathy's Survivor Saturday post on dealing with bitterness. I read that about once a month.

Also, please remember that all of the wives on this blog are commenting from different programs. It makes a huge difference. Some programs are more relaxed or family friendly, some are really stressful. Some residents struggle with different things that makes other things stressful. My husband HATES presentations and is especially standoffish when one is approaching. Comparing our husbands' behavior to each other is like comparing apples to oranges. One person might not be affected by residency the same way within the same program, much less in different programs, different specialties, different personalities, etc. etc.

I think that if you are willing to stick beside him in the ugly years of residency you will be just fine. Just make sure that you have some of your own friends to have conversations with... and everyone tells me that things get better!

October 28, 2009 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger Amy Clore said...


My BF (MSII) and I seem to have the opposite situation. After being at work all day, I like to go home and relax for a bit before I hear all his medical lingo. I'm not an introvert, just someone who needs a moment after a long day.

I think what you're experiencing is not unique to medicine and is common with many professionals in fast-paced work environments.

Just because you can't "talk" doesn't mean you can't sit together and watch TV or cook together, right? I hope you're able to find middle ground with your situation. And no, I don't agree with it being an ultimatum. Lives and jobs change--your relationship should be able to adapt, too.

October 28, 2009 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger Cindi said...

I actually envy those with a communte (I'm a SAHM) because they get that quiet time, just a few minutes alone in the car on the way home to wind down.

Once you have kids, they attack when daddy walks in so he'll have to get used to that, haha!

My hubby will sometimes tell us all hello, catch up a minute...shower, change or go work out before dinner.
Hmm, an hour might be extreme though. How about a compromise?

October 28, 2009 at 6:02 PM  
Anonymous A.F. said...

I don't know if this behavior is typical. My husband was pretty zombie-like during his internship, but he was still willing to attempt conversation with me after work. If your BF's behavior is problematic to you, then it needs to be addressed somehow. Compromise if necessary, but please don't discount your own concerns. Our SO's knowingly chose to juggle family life with abnormally rigorous careers. They should be held accountable to both responsibilities.

October 28, 2009 at 6:22 PM  
Blogger PsychPhDGirl said...

Thanks so much for all your advice everyone! It really helps to know that other people have similar experiences. Hopefully my BF and I will be able to compromise, or it will get better once he is less stressed.

October 28, 2009 at 8:13 PM  
Blogger melissa said...

I'm sorry to hear that this is going on for you. I totally get the stresses of every day (for all of us, not just the doctors), but I look forward to seeing my bf at the end of my workday. we don't live together, so it's that much more important for us to spend time together. doctor life is stressful, but if you're in a relationship, it's about both of you. if you both wanted time to chill out, that would be one thing, but since it's just him, and you're BOTH in the relationship, he needs to compromise. it's not fair for you to be lonely, then feel alone when he is home. good luck- hope things work out!

October 28, 2009 at 8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On rough days, my husband will come straight home and snag a nap for 30 minutes to an hour. The boys (5 and 2) know if Daddy is in bed, don't bother him. Most days, they attack him as he walks in from the garage. He immediately plays with them most days.

I agree with most that this will have to change when kids come into the picture. I would talk with him about it, see what his reasons are...is he not getting enough rest? Maybe some days he can spend time with you upon getting home, and then go to bed early.

I don't think this is out of the ordinary, but I do think that with any "rule" you make...in a household with two people, both people should get a say. I definitely think a compromise is in order.

October 30, 2009 at 11:17 PM  
Blogger Kathi Browne said...

There are several articles supporting that high stress jobs require down time after a long day. Residency certainly qualifies!

My husband used to shut down for about an hour. It caused many fights until he explained that he just needed to not be needed for a bit. It's not just the constant pager going off, coding, critical calls, etc. but the burden that there is so much riding on everything he does. The more confident he became, the shorter the time he needed alone.

If you can find a way to be with him- talk with him, without needing ANYTHING, he may be able to interact sooner. That means the kids can't pull at him or smother him... until he exhales.A genuine "I love you" followed by silence really is powerful.

November 4, 2009 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Bea said...

J doesn't explicity tell me he needs some quiet time, but sometimes when he has a particularly stressful night he'll come home and be unusually quiet. I have learned that it's his way of dealing with stress. It doesn't last long and it's not every night. But I do see it as a coping mechanism for extreme stress. (By the way, another coping mechanism seems to be road rage. I think this stuff manifests itself in weird ways.)

That being said, I don't think it would be good if he needed to be silent every night. I hope your significant other can compromise and maybe save it for the really bad nights when it's warranted.

November 4, 2009 at 7:53 PM  
Blogger Bea said...

J doesn't explicity tell me he needs some quiet time, but sometimes when he has a particularly stressful night he'll come home and be unusually quiet. I have learned that it's his way of dealing with stress. It doesn't last long and it's not every night. But I do see it as a coping mechanism for extreme stress. (By the way, another coping mechanism seems to be road rage. I think this stuff manifests itself in weird ways.)

That being said, I don't think it would be good if he needed to be silent every night. I hope your significant other can compromise and maybe save it for the really bad nights when it's warranted.

November 4, 2009 at 7:53 PM  
Anonymous Gwen said...

I know that my hubby usually feels a lot better if he just gets things off his chest. Maybe if he were to vent to you about his day, he would "recover" sooner and you would feel less shut out. But if your guy is a brooder rather than a venter, he may still need some time to himself, though an hour does seem a bit excessive.

November 4, 2009 at 9:53 PM  

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