You may have set out to focus solely on your career and had your life planned out. Then you started life as the spouse of a doctor, and life changed.
With each move to wherever the Match requires you to go, you struggle. You may be:
- Sharing one car while he gets dibs on it for his work
- Quitting your successful job because you have to move
- Moving to a city with high cost of living and having to be extra frugal
- Taking a lesser position commensurate with your skills
- Forgoing promotions at work
You make these sacrifices so your DrSpouse can succeed as a doctor.
As you do this, you watch as your path slopes unnaturally backward. You don’t regret it. But you also can’t help and feel that you’re being held back from your potential:
- You haven’t gone back to school or gotten that degree
- You haven’t started your business
- You haven’t learned new skills
- You haven’t broken into a new field
Your cup is empty.
You resent medicine.
Maybe you start to resent your DrSpouse.
And you enter into an endless spiral of burnout and depression because you feel powerless to the outcomes in your life.
Let me put a few things into perspective to calm your anxious, restless soul, friend.
Here are some considerations to think about.
1. Give Value To Your Work*
(*I am speaking to all spouses of docs. Even if you’re working part-time or full-time, you’re likely managing most of the home.)
Let’s look at your situation now together:
Your DrSpouse is visibly successful. His career gets TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy glorifying his profession.
Instead, you’re wiping butts, making appointments, folding laundry. You don’t get any acolytes, awards, or recognitions. If you had a TV show about what you do, it wouldn’t go past one season.
You can’t help but feel￼ like he’s moving forward and making a difference, and you’re invisible and insignificant.
The problem is fundamentally in how you are evaluating homemaking.
What yardstick are you using?
Let’s take a woman who is making $1 Mil a year. If income is your unit of measurement for success then yes, she is very successful. Let’s say she is dumping thousands of gallons of pollution into the river every day, exploiting workers in terrible conditions, and making the world a worse place. Is she still successful?
Now, let’s take somebody who is raising some outstanding kids who will become outstanding adults. But she has no followers on social media and makes zero income. Is she successful?
You tell me 😁
George Washington, one of the greatest leaders to roam the planet had a mom who was a homemaker and he said:
“Everything good in me, I owe to my mother.”
Let’s measure success with a different yardstick and bring back value to homemaking.
Work that brings income is secondary and can be replaced by anyone who meets the same qualifications.
The work that takes place between the walls of your home is the main work and builds legacies. And you are irreplaceable.
Be reassured that you’re known, valuable, and that your work is a great contribution.
2. Trust The Process During Each Chapter In Life
Each chapter in the medical life has different needs:
One chapter, you could be at full speed and building an empire. Another chapter, you’re nurturing and watching your kids become outstanding future adults and your DrSpouse become an amazing doctor.
The medical journey is like running a long-distance race. Knowing when to slow down and speed up — just like a marathon runner — is key.
If you’re running at full speed the whole way because you’re terrified some other runner is going to pass you, you will crash and burn.
Instead, if you know when to slow down even as people pass you, you actually will pass everybody who once passed you. And you win.
You have to trust this process and know that even if the perception is you FEEL like you are being passed, you’re actually winning.
3. You Have Time
Medical training takes a notoriously long 7 to 15 years:
Premed ▶️ MCAT ▶️ White Coat Ceremony ▶️ Step 1, 2, 3 ▶️ Residency Match ▶️ Intern/Prelim Year ▶️ Residency ▶️ Chief Year ▶️ Boards ▶️ Fellowship Match ▶️ Fellowship ▶️ Chief Year ▶️ More Boards ▶️ Attendinghood??? 🎉
By the time your DrSpouse even gets to be an attending, you’re at least in your 30s and you feel your peak career time is over.
You might as well give up anyway, right!? 😫
Stop racing against a timeline that doesn’t exist.
Tony Robbins said it perfectly:
“Most people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in two or three decades.”
Be more patient and know that you got time.
Look no further than these real examples to see that sometimes your best work comes later than you may expect:
- J.K. Rowling was a single mom on welfare and didn’t write Harry Potter until she was 31.
- Julia Child didn’t start cooking until age 38.
- Mary Kay sold books door-to-door until age 45. Her cosmetics empire didn’t take off until an age when most people would have retired.
- Ray Croc was a struggling salesman selling paper cups and milkshake makers. At age 55, he laid down the foundation that would eventually become McDonald’s.
On top of that, you WILL catch up where you left your career quickly. When your DrSpouse is finished with training, your new attending income is seed money that will provide any of this to help reach your goals:
- Tuition to go back to school.
- Kickstarter funds for your new business.
- Capital for your first real estate income property.
- …And so on.
So, take a deep breath and relax.
In The Meanwhile…
Continue to work on your goals at least one hour a day:
- If you’re an artist, pretend you have 10,000 bad drawings inside you and you have to get it out of you. (Practice!)
- If you want to start a new business, find mentors. (Network!)
- If you want to change fields, read all the knowledge you can. (Learn!)
One hour a day consistently is all it takes to build up greatness.
Vincent Van Gogh said:
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
Even though you FEEL like you’re not successful because you have put aside your career for a few years, put your soul at ease and know you are exactly where you’re supposed to be in life.
You got time.
You’ll catch up.
And you’ll do amazing.
Continue to raise your family and support your man in white coat without guilt.
I am hugging and supporting you ❤️
To strong medical families,
In what ways did you have to sacrifice for your DrSpouse?