My husband and I got married in the early years of college and by the time he graduated from medical school we had lived in 4 different cities in 2 different states (Arizona and Pennsylvania) and had added 4 members to our family (when he graduated we had a 6 year old, 2 year old, and 10 week old twins). I had the mentality that I had survived 4 years of undergrad with him working full time and going to school full time, plus 4 years of med school with the crazy hours of studying, residency will be a piece of cake. Boy was I in for a rude awakening!
So far residency has been full of surprises, some good and some not so good, but we are making it work the best way we can for our family. I, with the help of the other Medical Partners officers, have come up with some ideas to help you make the most of residency.
First things first, BE POSTIVE! Your attitude can change everything. Some good ways to try to stay positive are to focus on the time that you do have together rather than when you don’t get to see each other. Try not to have too high of expectation for your partner. Hoping for the best but expecting the worst will help you not get too frustrated when you have to wait an extra hour for your partner to get home or have to cancel plans because of a work emergency. Remember that your partner has about as much control over their schedule as you do over the weather.
Find a strong support system. A lot of people end up far away from home for residency (my husband and I are from Arizona, which is where all of our family lives) so we need to create our own “families” and develop meaningful friendships that will help us make it through the hard times. Those friends can be an outlet to get support or just to vent which can help you be positive so you’re not always unloading on your partner. Those friends can be there to come over and have a girl’s night when your partner is working nights or to step up to watch your kids so you can make it to doctor appointments or what not. Your friends can help you make new traditions when your partner isn’t around for holidays and you’re not able to make it home. And remember that your support system doesn’t have to just be other people married to the medical field.
Try not to focus too much on the future. If you are only focused on what is going to happen after residency you may miss all of the great things that are happening now. When I think back to medical school I remember having lots of conversations with my friends about what we would do after all of the schooling and training was done but we had some amazing times living in the moment. We are trying to continue that same mentality now too. While having goals for after all of the training is done is a good thing, remember that there are lots of good and fun things that are happening now.
Make time for each other. Set aside time for dates or just to be together as often as you can. If you have kids find a reliable babysitter and try to have a set schedule so its easier to go on your date night. Consider your date nights an investment in your relationship. Remember that dates don’t have to cost money. Sometimes just doing something different together counts as a date, like walking through the ped mall or going to watch the sunset at the beach or watching a movie on the couch. Being together is what counts.
Connect with your partner. It is important to constantly work on your relationship and not get lazy. Make sure that you are communicating honestly and openly. Let each other know what you need in order to be your best self. Try to talk everyday, even if it is through text or email. Make sure you say “I love you” and don’t forget to give your partner a hug and a kiss. The physical connection is important too. You and your partner need to love and support each other to make it thought the hard times and come out stronger on the other end.