Married “two” medicine
We were finally catching up on season 5 of The Walking Dead when my (Renée’s) phone rings. “ER” pops up on my caller ID. “Ugh! Why are they calling me now?!?” The physician assistant tells me the story of a woman having a miscarriage. I decide that I need to go in. Nothing unusual about our quality time being interrupted by work.
Half jokingly, “Wanna come with me?” I ask Nii. It’s his day off and no doctor wants to be in the hospital on their day off. Surprisingly, he says,”Ok, I’ll go with you. But, I’m going straight to the lounge. I don’t want anybody stopping me in the ER!” So, we leave the comfort of our home and head in… together.
We can’t say that we’ve ever watched an entire episode of the Bravo network’s Married to Medicine reality TV series. I watched about fifteen minutes of one episode two years ago. It didn’t quite capture my professional or personal life, (lots of drama in that fifteen minute segment), but if nothing else, it was entertaining… if you like reality TV.
One thing the show did capture accurately is that medical careers can be demanding and stressful. The long clinic days, the tiresome unpredictable nights, and all the emotional capital involved in dealing with patients… Simply put, it’s hard! Doctors can’t help but to feel like they need to be there for patients often times at the expense of being there for their own families and friends. What a great set up for two newlywed docs, right?
“When do you guys find time to be together?” Like other married couples with demanding jobs, we get that question all the time. We keep these tidbits of information in the back of our heads.
- Several articles paint medical marriages as “high risk”.
- Divorce rates are apparently higher for psychiatrists and surgeons. (Nii’s a surgeon BTW!)
- Doctors easily work more than 80 hours a week, eating into time with family.
- Being on-call can easily cut short events with family and friends.
- Work stress often bleeds into home life.
Most people want to leave work at work and come home to peace and quiet. Can’t always do that in medicine. Nii and I literally sleep at the hospital 10-15 days out of each month. Unlike when I’m on call, when Nii’s on call, he is required to stay in the hospital for 24 hours, meaning he can’t go home. So, on his on-call days, I usually pack a bag in the morning, finish up with my clinic patients by 6pm, and make my way across the street to the hospital to be with my husband… I can go home, but I don’t.
A large factor in choosing where we currently work was whether it accommodated our marriage. While financial situation, social scene, and proximity to family were important, we decided that our priority was to be married and be together. We specifically chose to work at the same hospital because working at different hospitals would have taken too much time away from us. We spent seven years of our ten-year courtship in a long distance relationship due to the demands of training for our careers. We are no longer willing to sacrifice each other for work. Instead, we’ve teamed up to make our careers work within our marriage.
When I’m on-call, I (Nii) am often called down to the trauma bay during the wee hours of the night. Renée is so used to me getting in and out of bed, that it hardly wakes her up anymore. But, as crazy as the night can get, I’m comforted by the fact that my wife is only an elevator ride away. That’s important to us.
Reading this, you might think, “They’re in each other’s faces all day long. How don’t they get sick of each other?” Don’t get it wrong; we’re not attached at the hip and our schedules sometimes don’t sync. We also give each other the space that any normal human being needs. But giving space is easy! Finding time together takes effort. A colleague said to Nii, “I give it 3 months and Renée will get sick of sleeping at work.” It’s been a year and a half, and we haven’t missed a beat!
Maybe it’s overkill. Maybe we don’t have near the drama on Bravo’s Married to Medicine. But, it works for us, and that’s all that matters!