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Lives of Doctor Wives: Survivor Stories: Keep Yourself Busy

Monday, April 20, 2015

Survivor Stories: Keep Yourself Busy

Oh, the pre-medical days of my romance with my husband.  Hanging out downtown, backpacking in the summer, skiing all winter, carefree and full of aspirations.  Then, medical school began and I found myself alone (often) and bored (sometimes), trying to replace those events in my life…in a new town, living in a different state, where I had no family or friends.

What I have learned, 10 years later, is that to survive a medical marriage you need your own hobbies.  The best way to push through his absence is to keep yourself busy.  So I thought I would compile a list of some of my favorites ways to do that.

Learn Something New

The Library
It’s free and every community has one.  Isn’t it fun to walk the aisles and grab a random book on a topic you know nothing about?  Okay, maybe that’s just something dorks like me do.  But still, the library is a great place to learn something new, and you don’t have to invest anything for that knowledge.  Also, many libraries use Overdrive, or a comparable app, so you can enjoy digital downloads and save yourself a trip.  If you love to read in general, the LDW Book Club is the doctors’ wives book club on Facebook, with reading discussions and great recommendations.

Professor Internet
Yes, I am a true believer that you can learn about anything on the Internet and you can teach yourself.  The problem lies in trusting the information you are getting.  Did you know many top universities have OpenCourseWare programs (like Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Yale, etc.)?  Here is link to a great site with free, online places to learn.  If you’re able to spend a little money, we’ve enjoyed some of The Great Courses.  Each course is a collection of online videos (also available on an app) that teach a variety of subjects, all led by experts in the field.  My husband has enjoyed a photography class, while I’ve been doing a culinary one.

Go Back to School
This is a good option when knowing some base information isn’t enough, or you need an actual degree.  Is it stressful to be in a medical marriage when both of you are in school?  Absolutely, been there done that.  But it doesn’t get any easier.  If it’s your passion to go back to school, just do it.  The timing will never be perfect in a medical life (for pretty much anything you want to do) so just go for it.


Religious organizations
Charity is a strong emphasis for many religious establishments, and if you have a religious community there are bound to be on-going events you can be involved in.  Just ask what you can do to help, and you may be surprised how many opportunities exits.

Junior League
Major cities all across the US have local Junior League organizations.  The emphasis is community support through volunteer and fundraising activities, while also having a social aspect to it.   Having been a leaguer at two different Junior Leagues I can tell you that they all differ a bit in their expectations.  So consider some new member events to see if your local League is a good fit for you.

Get Fit

Join a Gym
If you have the time, money, and resources in your area joining a gym can be a great way to have more energy, be more relaxed, and find friends who share your interest.  And then there's that whole benefit of a healthier lifestyle thing.

Find an Online Fitness Community
If you don’t have the option to join a gym, or prefer home workouts, there are so many options for getting fit at home.  You could do an at-home workout program with online coaching (like a BeachBody program).  Or, you can find endless workout videos on YouTube for free.  The LDW Fitness Club is a great place for motivation and ideas.

Get Crafty

Ok.  So maybe it sounds a little cliché.  Settle down with a nice doctor, have a few kids, and start becoming a pro in all things domestic (cooking, crafting, sewing, knitting).  But it’s not just a 1950s stereotype.  It’s actually really relaxing to do those things, and fun to finally have the time/money/ability to be home to do them.  So where do you learn?  The Internet again to the rescue.  I just learned to sew in the last year – mostly through online video tutorials.  YouTube is great because it’s free.  But if you want something more elaborate consider a class from Craftsy.com .  Or, your local craft stores, like Joanns and Michaels, will do classes throughout the year and provide a great chance for hands-on learning.  Don't forget the talented doctors' wives.  Someone is bound to have good ideas on how to start and what resources to use.

Surround Yourself With Family

Change Your Perspective
Okay, I know what you’re thinking “we live 1,000 miles away from our family, I can’t be surrounded by them”.  Yep, I know what you mean.  But it’s a matter of perspective.  To survive the training, you want to have some non-related “family” in your life.  I know, it’s easier said than done.  But there may be a spouse organization at your school/residency program, or a local woman’s group, or a religious group that provides a good fit.  It may be situational and temporary, but there are people out there who will become your friends and function like family at times.

Build Your Immediate Family
If you still find yourself getting bored when your husband has a 30-hr weekend shift, or night call for the week, consider the ultimate option to eliminate your free time – children.  Nothing eats up your personal time like those adorable, bubbly little creatures.  It’s a good thing…..most of the time.  :-)

So hopefully the next time you are dreading his rotation in MICU, or that away rotation during 3rd year, look back at this list and see how the world is an amazing place and this is an opportunity to embrace it.

About the Author
Amber is married to an ER physician in Colorado and write about all things domestic on her blog Chief Household Officer

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