Let me tell you our story. I’m Theresa, I am an engineer-turned recruiter, and my husband is a GI fellow. My hobbies are writing, real estate, and personal finances. We have three small kids in a cute, small house.
But that’s not where our story begins.
Our first date was at Eat & Park.
The romantic capital of the world.
The restaurant of dreams.
Fine dining at its very best 😉
My husband did not ask me to marry him right then (although he says he wanted to). We fell in love very fast that summer. We continued to go to college where we both were studying engineering.
When we graduated, we started our engineering jobs. A few years later in the midst of the Great Recession, my husband got laid off. And that was when he said to me, “I’m thinking about going to medical school.” This was the moment we started our medical journey as he went back to college to take his first Biology 101 class.
And, as you know as a medical spouse, t would be over a decade before he would be done with training! (And we’re still not done!)
But back then, I didn’t know anything about medical life or the long road ahead. We got married right when he started medical school, and we became newlyweds enjoying our time together. He studied and I worked. And when he was done with studying, we hung out together. It was simple.
But that quickly changed as we then had 3 kids during training. Child #1 came during fourth year of medical school. Child #2 in second year of residency, Child #3 in the first fellowship. His responsibilities grew as he tried to do the work needed to sub-specialize in a very competitive field. We hung out less and less. And I continued to work outside the home throughout our entire marriage, which was better for our family.
Life has looked very C R A Z Y, let me tell you.
There are days I am only trying to survive until I go to bed:
- Somebody always needs a snack
- Somebody always needs their pants put on
- Laundry always needs to be folded
- Work had sales quotas I need to reach
- An appointment always had to be made
With a growing family and all that was going on in our lives, training years have been the toughest on our marriage! (And we’re still in training, so they continue to be!)
Looking back so far, we know that life can be a hot mess. it’s easy to put aside marriage as something you take care later (like when the kids are all in college!!) For instance, a doc wife friend of mine said that her husband had shaved off his mustache and she didn’t notice for two days!
But I’ve learned that marriage is not like an air plant you can ignore and expect to survive.
You have to treat your marriage like “another child” you’re caring for, one that has needs and requires time and attention.
Since the moment I said “I do,” I’ve come a long way and learned so much as a wife and mother. And I want to pass tips that have helped us strengthen our marriage and share them with you. (#17 is my favorite one!)
I hope you can use some of these tips to help strengthen your marriage, too.
30 Things That Makes Your Medical Marriage Stronger
- Realize that love is an act of the will, not a feeling. Feelings are fleeting, but real love is always there. Don’t wait until you FEEL like you’re in love to act lovingly.
- Put regular date nights on the calendar. That way if plans change, they get rescheduled…not cancelled.
- When you do have date nights, make them unique to break the novelty. Do something you wouldn’t usually do. This kicks in the same endorphins as when you first met and were falling in love.
- Change their name in your phone contacts to “Hottest Man on Earth” (or whatever cool name you want to give to them).
- Like the eye of a hurricane, make your marriage the safest place on Earth. Welcome them, cherish them, protect them. Let them be happy to go to work, but happier to come home to you.
- Don’t raise your voice at each other…unless your house is on fire 😂
- Don’t manipulate, roll your eyes, use sarcasm or passive aggression when arguing. It’s poison.
- “Just tell it like it is” is horrible common advice…don’t do it! Speak honestly but don’t unload hell and use words with them that you will regret.
- Give them some room to recover after a long shift before expecting them to reintegrate back to family life.
- Regularly share each others’ goals and expectations and how you plan on working on them. Don’t wait to get into an argument and be shocked that you never knew.
- Listen carefully when they talk. Don’t listen to give a response. Stop what you’re doing, look at them in the eye, and make sure you are able to recall what they said later.
- Don’t compare them to anybody else, either to them or behind their backs.
- Don’t complain to your kids about their Daddy or their schedule. Kids absorb your attitude and create connotations about Daddy through what you channel.
- Talk positively of them to your friends and family even when they’re not there.
- Compliment them regularly so they realize exactly what you admire in them. It also acts as positive reinforcement so they keep doing what it is you want them to do lol!
- Tell them (don’t ask!) what you want them to do plainly. Sometimes when you word something like they have a choice, they think they don’t have to do it. That can set you up for disappointment.
- Take every moment possible to connect in the mundane moments of life — send a text that you’re picking up groceries, send a selfie of you, leaving notes, etc. Just connect ALL THE TIME! (FAVE TIP.)
- Get to know their inner and outer world: what annoys them, what they’re dealing with, what challenges they have to face. A good way to do this is to ask the “good and bad” question where they have to share one good thing and one bad thing that happened to them that day.
- Bounce back quickly from disagreements: Don’t stonewall them. Don’t shut down. Don’t keep silent treatment. It may mean you have to sweep things aside but it’s worth it.
- Remember how you met and why you fell in love. And retell the story.
- Celebrate your birthdays and your anniversary. Don’t let forgetting become a habit.
- Touch and kiss often: a soft touch on their back, sleeping while holding hands, etc. That serotonin is so good for you. And it lets them know, “You are cherished.”
- Encourage them to hone their skills and have hobbies outside medicine. (And same with you!)
- Give less critique, less aggravation, less direction.
- Give more encouragement, validation, appreciation.
- Say “good morning” and “good night” every time you see one another. Tomorrow is not promised.
- Wait until they pull out of the driveway and are out of sight before you head back into the house. Kids particularly love to do this with you, too.
- Do NOT wait on them to have dinner together. Eat first.
- Give them and yourself grace. A ton of it.
- If you or them are on the verge of burnout, talk to a therapist. (Their psych colleagues will have referrals.)