4 Tips to Keep Positive When Married To a Doctor

November 21, 2017

Being a married to a physician is hard.  Whether your spouse is a medical student nervous about the future, an overworked resident, or a busy attending, the medical profession has challenges on every level.  With the busy nature of being a doctor, sometimes it can feel like your relationship is taking a backseat to your spouse’s career, and it can be easy to fall into a trap of feeling sorry for yourself.  While it’s perfectly normal to acknowledge that you are going through some hard, keeping your mind focused on the positive can often help you feel less burdened and alone. 

Get rid of irrational thoughts

Sometimes when we find ourselves in stressful situations, our minds can start to take us places we never intended to go.  Maybe it’s getting late on a Friday night and your spouse promised you’d finally get to go out together, but they had to work late again, leaving you to put the kids to bed by yourself and leaving you alone on your Friday night.  With feelings of loneliness and disappointment starting to creep in, you may be tempted to start blaming your spouse for making you feel this way…blaming them for not getting home on time, blaming them for leaving you alone with the kids, blaming them for choosing to be doctors in the first place instead of picking an easier job like the rest of your friends and wondering if maybe they loved you more they may have picked an easier career…

If not monitored, these negative thoughts can quickly spiral out of control, suddenly leaving you completely unhinged and insecure.  That’s why it can be important to be aware of the voices in your head and recognize which ones are trying to fill you with irrational doubts and which ones are trying to remind you to be reasonable.  Even though it’s hard to be alone when your spouse has to work, blaming them won’t make things any better and letting yourself imagine the worst certainly won’t make things better either.  By focusing on what you know is true and reminding yourself of your spouse’s true intentions can help you avoid unnecessary resentment and anger and help you stay positive during difficult times. 

Be okay with not being perfect

Especially when you’re going through something hard, setting unrealistic expectations for yourself can make you more frustrated and unnecessarily make you feel like a failure.  Oftentimes we envision what we think our ideal lives should like look and then punish ourselves when it doesn’t turn out that way.  But life is rarely predictable and being married to a doctor can add a lot of unknowns and unpredictably that can be incredibly frustrating if you’re not prepared.   So instead of laying out a plan for your perfect life, try to live in each season that you are in and just do your best with the circumstances you are in now.  If your spouse is in a more difficult part of their medical training, then maybe now’s not a great time to try to run a marathon or start a new business, but know that life is always changing and moving through phases and the opportunity to meet that goal may come later.  When things get hard, setting small goals and focusing on the essentials can help avoid those unnecessary feelings of failure.  It doesn’t mean you have to give up bigger goals when things get hard, but just realize that there is a phase of life for everything, and something you may not have time for now, you may have time for later.  Sometimes it’s ok to just focus on the essentials and let yourself breath. 

Recognize we are all just practicing at life

Like every other human, you’re still just trying to figure this whole life thing out.  Think of life like learning any other type of craft, like learning a musical instrument or learning how cook, and how it takes lots practice to become proficient in those crafts.  In the same way, you are practicing the art of being married to a physician, which requires a lot of patience, understanding and sacrifice.  It takes practice and daily effort to have positive thoughts and to keep your relationship and family strong amidst a busy doctor schedule.  Sometimes you may slip up and let your frustrations turn into anger or resentment for your spouse, but it doesn’t mean you’ve failed.  Instead you can learn from your mistakes and just keep practicing. 

Do something everyday that makes you happy

Maybe it’s getting in an hour of exercise or watching your favorite show or working on a project you enjoy.  Whatever it is, do your best to make time for it everyday, even if it’s only for a short amount of time and even if it means sacrificing something else, like having a perfectly clean kitchen or getting all the laundry done.  Working hard is important, but it’s also important to remind ourselves what we are working for, and to let ourselves take time to enjoy life.   Being married to a doctor can sometimes feel like you are just an extension of your spouse, but you’re not–you’re your own person with your own interests and talents and its important to make time for the things you enjoy.

By Hannah McKay – Married to Doctors Contributor

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