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Lives of Doctor Wives: Survivor Saturdays: When the Doctor Has No Patience

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Survivor Saturdays: When the Doctor Has No Patience

At some point during medical school and residency, a low threshold of patience is common. Your spouse may become easily frustrated and even angry. Small things will become big things, and your spouse may turn into a different person. While this is common, it can be manageable. If you address some of the causes up front, you'll have a little more energy to deal with the unavoidable ones.

Sleep deprivation is one of the main reasons your handsome prince becomes a royal pain! Lack of sleep brings on irritability, depression, weight gain, and even hypertension. While you can't control how much sleep he gets, you can help him get the most out of his shut-eye at home. When he is in bed, keep interruptions to a minimum. Remove home phones from the bedroom and consider a white noise machine. You can even create white noise by going to this simplynoise website on a strategically placed laptop. Also, assure him you won't let him oversleep, even if it means setting two or three alarms for his peace of mind.

I mentioned hypertension as it relates to sleep, but hypertension is a serious issue and it's common in high-stress occupations. Hypertension can result in constant headaches, as well as a generally crappy feeling. Look for signs of hypertension. If your spouse has frequent headaches, irregular heartbeats, changes in vision, occasional dizziness, or flushed face, encourage them to check their blood pressure. I'm not giving professional medical advice here, I'm just telling you what I know from my own experience and conversations.

I've mentioned this before, but constant pager calls, stat orders, and repeated requests for on-the-spot decisions can drive a person mad. Since your spouse can't tell senior residents or nursing staff to take a hike, the frustration is likely to be redirected at you. Oftentimes, just telling your spouse what action you need from him, rather than asking him to make a decision, will go a long way. Men are problem-solvers, so those innocent conversations when you think out loud can lead your spouse into a mental meltdown trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist. If you're just feeling chatty, tell him you want a sounding board and no response is needed. That may sound crazy, but it gives him permission to stop "rescuing."

Okay, this leaves us with the more touchy topic - inappropriate behavior. Don't allow your partner to treat you poorly, simply because he works hard. We all work hard. You probably wake up as many times to care for children as he does on a call night (revisit paragraphs 2 & 3 above). The God complex is a recognized condition physicians suffer from when they eat up the attention and become too full of themselves (yes, that's a little joke). If his behavior is unacceptable, point it out when it happens and suggest an alternative. He'll probably respond in like kind, and you can both offer to try something different. Keep other physician jerks at a distance, too, since they tend to suck others in to justify their own poor behavior.

When all else fails, consider finding a counselor to get you both back on track. Most insurance policies cover such visits and you may find that even one visit makes a difference. Counselors don't fix problems, they just facilitate discussing them in a more constructive way. If you can't convince him to consider counseling, surround yourself with other couples who have healthy marriages. Good examples go a long way and you both may pick up some better habits.

Hope this helps some of you attend to your spouses' mood and give your marriage the critical care it needs. (Hope you found my puns humerus.)

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Blogger Rachel and Jason said...

Excellent advice! Thank you

December 6, 2009 at 6:39 PM  

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