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Lives of Doctor Wives: Happy Wife, Happy Life, right?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Happy Wife, Happy Life, right?

Happy Wife, Happy Life, right?
by: Katie Allender 

Rank list. Oh yes, the rank list.  When it came time to rank anesthesia programs, I tried my best to relinquish control and allow my husband to “decide” where he preferred to go, where would be the best training, and ultimately where would be the best fit for us, as a newly married couple willing to try something “new.”  Every program had its strengths and weaknesses but big factors for us outside of the obvious were the design of the program, cost of living in the immediate area, the ability for me to find a teaching job, and things to do in the area (we love the outdoors!). After a few slight modifications, our rank list was complete; we still had a few reservations about some of our rankings, but in the end we opted not to stress about it because what should happen, would happen.

Well fast forward to Match Day and we matched at the University of Michigan. We were excited (elated, even!) at the opportunity to move and start our life together, just the two of us (or three of us rather, including the newly rescued dog).  I quit my teaching job and three days later we were packed up and moving 1,200 miles across from Denver to Ann Arbor.  We were so immersed with the move that we had almost forgot about the one reservation circulating around our move to Michigan.  While researching programs, we had learned that teaching jobs were exceptionally difficult to come by in and around Ann Arbor.  Before even moving, my husband was especially anxious at the idea of me quitting my desirable job back home and potentially not being able to find something out here. I assured him time and time again that we would make it work.  Well here we were in a new city scouting out teaching jobs, and his worst fear about moving came to reality.  I couldn’t find a job.  It never was about the money but more about my happiness and contentment with our new “home”; my husband’s biggest fear was that I would become resentful towards him.  Sure there were jobs to be had, but taking a job an hour or two away was not something that seemed all too practical given our situation.  It was hard for me to justify taking a position where I would be gone twelve or more hours a day (including drive time) coupled with a first year resident working brutally long, exhausting hours.  For a while I remained optimistic that something (anything!) would come along, but nothing ever did. I honestly think this situation became harder on my husband that it was on me.  All along, though, I had a “Plan B” – I would nanny! And quite frankly I was completely content with that decision. It wasn’t too long before I found an amazingly great family to nanny for. I love what I do and there are qualities about being a nanny that resemble teaching.  Do I miss teaching? Absolutely! Teaching is part of my identity.  But I also know that I’ll be back in the classroom before I know it; this current phase of our journey is a small hiccup in the grand scheme of things.

So, rather than choosing to be resentful toward my husband for “making me move,” I have chosen to make the most out of our time here.  I cannot say that it has all been unicorns and rainbows, but for the most part, our move has been a very rewarding, extremely liberating, and great for our marriage.  As any spouse or significant other in our situation can attest, there are times where I have felt lonely and just wished for a normal lifestyle; but with the help of an invaluable group of girlfriends who I have met out here, frequent happy hours, craft nights, book study meetings, and training for a half marathon (something I have desired to do for years), there is less time to dwell on my loneliness.  I make time for my husband when I know he will be off, but sitting around and waiting for him to get home will not make this process any less lonesome, less stressful, or go by any quicker.  Going out and getting involved is the best piece of advice I can give anyone in a situation remotely similar to ours. Do something you have always wanted to do! Take a class, learn a new hobby, travel to new areas, or join a club.  Meet new people! Enjoy growing in your relationship with your spouse!  Instead of viewing residency as something we do for our spouse and his/her career, I can only suggest that you take this time for yourself, too; it’s not easy doing what we do, but what we can control is making sure that this part of the journey is a positive one, one that will only last a short while.

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