The Glamorous Life of a Doctor’s Wife

It’s 9pm on a Sunday night and I haven’t uttered a word in two hours. This is pretty run of the mill. My baby is fast asleep in her crib and the dogs aren’t much for conversation. My husband is at work and has been since 7 am this morning and will be until 9 am tomorrow morning at which point he’ll pass me on the stairs barely conscious and fall into bed where he’ll be for at least the next 6 hours. So in total, I’ll have been without adult conversation for 30+ hours. This, my friends, is the glamorous life of a doctor’s wife.

To be fair, I don’t know anything else. Our first year of marriage was Brian’s first year of medical school. Even in those early days I spent a great deal of time alone. Okay, so he was there but he certainly wasn’t “present”. I’d go to sleep most nights with the glow of the lamp light and the sound of pages turning and the shriek of a highlighter across a page of notes.  It was during this time that I had to get used to attending social gatherings and family functions all by my lonesome.  After a while, people would beat me to explaining his absence with, “He’s studying again, right?” Today isn’t much different at all, but the rhetorical question now is, “He’s working again, right?”  Yep, sure is.

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This is Brian with just one of his MANY 6 inch binders full of notes.

I also should add that I know entirely too much about medicine to have never even taken an anatomy course. For example, when Brian comes home from a night in the OB ward and tells me that he had a mother present with preterm contractions at 32 weeks, I always ask, “Was she dehydrated or was it a urinary tract infection? Did you have to ‘terb’ her?”  Terbutaline is a medicine to stop contractions.  I shouldn’t really know this, but I do. When he’s with his doctor buddies and they’re discussing cases, only on a rare occasion do I have to interrupt to ask for further clarification. I usually can follow the conversation quite well.

There is a common misconception that doctors’ wives are gold diggers and are living the easy life. Maybe that’s true for doctors’ wives who are nearing retirement, but it’s far from true for this lowly resident’s wife.  In fact, our student loan debt would bring most people to tears. Residents barely make enough money to even cover the bills. The price of a medical education compared to the pay of a doctor the first few years out of medical school is astounding. Unlike what most would assume, we do not live on easy street. Brian’s truck is 16 years old and our other vehicle was a gift from his parents. I haven’t pampered myself and had anything extra like a manicure or pedicure in years. Don’t get me wrong, we are not starving. We do just fine, but there’s no room for savings.  That’s for sure.  So few things annoy me so much as when someone says, “You’re a doctor’s wife?  That must be nice!”  I always reply with something like, “It is, because my husband is wonderful!”

There are many perks to being married to a physician, though. The number one perk thus far is that my husband got to deliver our daughter into this world! How many fathers can say that?! It was extremely convenient during my pregnancy to have someone assure me that all of those scary new happenings were normal. In my last few weeks of pregnancy, he was able to determine when it was actually necessary for me to go to the hospital, thus saving us many of the trips to the hospital that first time parents usually make. Also, when our little one gets sick, we always have a doctor on call!

There is nothing I love more than the days when Brian comes home exhausted, but happy. That’s when I know he has chosen the perfect life path for himself. He’ll come home and tell me all about a specific patient whose life he was able to save with his quick thinking or about an elderly woman who thanked him over and over for helping her feel well again. More than a time or two he’s come home with a craft a patient has made for him or a bag of walnuts an old man picked and shelled for him. This is why he can work a 30 hour shift without breaking down and it’s why he is so determined to be an excellent physician; because the work he is doing really matters!

I am his right hand woman. If he were a performer, I’d be his publicist. I’m his behind the scenes girl; his loudest cheerleader and his biggest fan. I work hard to ensure that his primary responsibility is being a top notch physician by making sure that things are taken care of here at home. I cook. I clean. I pay the bills. I stay home to care for our baby. This is just the way I want our life to be. We are a team.  He leaves our home to do his job and my job is to keep things under control in our personal life. Call me old fashioned if you will, but this is what works for us and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I’m here each day when he gets home to listen to how his day went. When he gets tired and discouraged, I remind him of how hard he’s worked to get where he is and how fantastic he is at what he does. I truly believe he was meant to help people and as such I truly believe I was meant to help him do it. And that, my friends, is the glamorous life of a doctor’s wife.

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Us just before his graduation from Medical School and my graduation from Undergrad. Yes, they were on the same day!

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His first day of Family Practice residency.

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32 thoughts on “The Glamorous Life of a Doctor’s Wife

  1. I must say you are an awesome sidekick for his profession. As well as he is for yours.You both complete each other. You couldn’t of looked the world over and found 2 perfect people for each other and of course Lilly completes you both. Just hang in there and maybe you guys will be able to enjoy the rewards that’s in store for you both. I love all three of you so very much!

      • What a positive thought! It’s true that many people doesn’t understand the struggles of others not until they get the to see the real picture! People always assume that people live a perfect life just because they are married to a top professional. And the way you shared your thoughts opens up the minds of others who doesn’t have any slight idea of what it is to be a wife of a doctor. May God continually bless you and your family as you continue to serve Him.

  2. I work with your husband on labor and delivery. Brian is one of the kindest hard working Doctors I know. We are so blessed to have him. You are such a blessing to him! Love you post!

    • Thank you so much! He works so hard and worries so much about how he is doing. He is blessed to have you all as well!

  3. I remember one party that was put on by the state osteopathic association, in my husbands 3rd year of school asking me “What do you do?” I replied that I stay home and do the mundane things so he could go out and shine. Very “un-PC” even just 16 years ago. I still stay at home with our soon to be all grown up children and I really can’t remember at any time that I want to leave this life. He to was in Family Medicine, but had to leave for health reasons but still works in the medical field to help Dr.s have productive offices. With your attitude it will only get better.

    Mona Sanderlin – Texas

  4. love you both keep up the good work and never stop being your honey’s right hand women love is why you both are together and to God we give all glory for you both.

  5. I’ve been with my husband since we were both in undergrad, and now we’re 2months into opening up his own medical practice. And each time someone hear’s that I’m the wife of the doctor, they tell me how lucky I am. And I am. But certainly not because of his degree! They don’t see the long hours, the building a family for the two of you sometimes on your own, the mountain of student debt, and the never ending studying (even after he’s “done” with training). They don’t see that we’re paying for our own insurance completely, or the townhouse we rent in a questionable part of town to live within our means, or the expansion of our family we’ve delayed. So when we do get to retirement? We’ll have Both earned it, and our life together, in every sense of the word!

    • Meg, exactly! I’m not complaining at all. There are so many positives to living this life, but there are also negatives. Unfortunately most people don’t see those. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows. There are HUGE sacrifices made. It’s nice to know that there are others like you who get it.

  6. Hello, Lisa & Young Moms! How wonderful to “hear” from you! You are not alone, and I invite you to contact me anytime and come join us anytime when D.O.s gather. We are one big Osteopathic Family, and we’ve got your back. Personally, I’ve been at this for 30 years – wow – as the wife of a rural, sole proprietor, family practice physician in Bonham, Texas. Individually, you are welcomed to contact me anytime – and for any others who may share the D.O. family experience, here is my email tossed out for the public: d2froelich@verizon.net . Did you know that there is a group that is just for celebrating and supporting our osteopathic profession? The ADVOCATES for the American Osteopathic Associaion http://www.advocates4dos.org . We even have a start at an Interns-Residents Advocates Association as a part of AAOA to try to keep you all in touch with each other and new friends as you go through the intern/resident years. You have many adventures ahead of you, and we want to give you the encouragement (or shoulder) you need. If it would help, we can try to find others in your area, or those with shared interests. With the internet, new friends are just a click away, too. I am so happy that the AOA shared your story today. Thank you for speaking up. I hope to hear more from you as your years pass. Contact me anytime! Deidre L. Froelich, wife of Jim Froelich, D.O., F.A.C.O.F.P., and president elect of the Advocates for the American Osteopathic Association.

    • Deidre, thank you so much for reading and appreciating my post. 30 years is super impressive! I can only hope to be blessed with that many years. Thank you for sharing your contact information and also for working to ensure that folks like you and I have a place to connect.

  7. My best friend is married to a doctor. She has said to me everything that you’ve written! However, when it comes to finances you only mentioned having a strict budget during medical school and residency. Perhaps your husband is still a Resident? Because now, my best friend and her husband are more than comfortable. Their student loans are paid, they drive beautiful cars, they live in a huge house, they just paid for a timeshare for the rest of their lives outright and they are searching for other ways to spend their money! They are putting away tens of thousands each month. Not in all cases, but in many … there are definitely glamorous aspects to being a doctor’s wife!

    • Hi Melissa, yes as I mentioned in the post my husband is still a resident. So we are for sure hopeful that there are better days to come, financially. For us, there will never tens of thousands to put away each month, Brian is a family practice doctor and also with the Affordable Care Act those days are going to become a thing of the past. However, we should be comfortable that is certainly true. And you are absolutely right, there are some huge positives to being married to a physician. I just thought it’d be nice to share my experiences in an honest light which includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and for sharing your thoughts with me!

    • I think if she stuck by him and supported him and took care of everything else, through the years of undergrad, med-school, residency, and even a fellowship… she deserves to be living the glamorous life! people who haven’t experienced it just don’t understand just how hard it is. They don’t understand how much is/ was given up for someone to become a doctor.
      My husband and I have been married 7 years and we have 7 to go before he finishes his residency and fellowship. and I am so bone tired that the thought of the next 7 years makes me cry myself to sleep at night quite often! and nobody even knows when i spend those nights crying because nobody is here but me and my kids cuz he’s at the hospital in emergency surgeries or keeping people alive all night long. My daughter was super sick for just over a year; she threw up every other night and we couldn’t find anyway to fix it! he didn’t get to come to her appointments. He wasn’t able to be there for her surgeries and never-ending testing. He wasn’t able to be there to help me change the soiled sheets, bathe our precious girl and rock back to sleep. Why? because he was helping other people’s babies. It’s hard! It’s really a hard life. i don’t begrudge him it because he loves it and because he’s helping others in ways i never could. But i do begrudge people who think we’ll be paid too much and we’ll be given a life of luxury when he is done. Because if you add up all the hours of work he’s put in and will put in and divide it by what he’s being paid: the man’s making about a buck an hour! So lets just say his future salary will be back-pay. subtract the half a million dollars of debt we earned by going to a private med-school. average all the years out and he’ll be making less than your average business man and doing much more important work!

  8. It really is a blessing to read what a support you are to your hubby’s dream. I have met many women who have no idea that they are burning their happy home down around their ears because they refuse to support their partner during the education process. I know a lot of people think that once you get through med school and residency, and you suddenly “arrive” at gobs and piles of money, that suddenly you are happy. But the seeds of happiness are sowed during the learning and journeying to the dream. And it’s not a destination, is it? Even when you “get there,” you still have to work hard to stay together and have a good partnership. Besides, with the changes coming to health care, it looks like if you can just pay off your loans and pay your bills, you’ve done good.
    I’m still in my undergrad with the intent of going to med school, and my hubby is my number one cheerleader. We’re at a different place in life than most, I’m 39 and we have six children ages 10 to 20. My hubby calls me his retirement plan. 😉 It keeps me going when I think I might be too old to get this done. Anyway, keep up the good work!

    • Val, I’m so glad you enjoyed reading my blog post. You are so right about it being a partnership, it SO is. Also, I am so pleased to hear that you haven’t given up on your dreams of becoming a physician. It won’t be easy, but with the right kind of determination you can make it happen! I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors and if there’s any advice I can give you to help you along your journey (or your husband) I’m just a click away. Thanks!

  9. We are now on the other side of residency…but even with him now in a “real” job, I still attend many events without my hubby…the hardest for me are the Sundays I sit in church alone. However while we were having lunch together a few weeks ago, I was “dreaming” about what I would like to do if I could change careers…I asked Lane what he would want to do if he could have any job…just dreaming…give me your ideal job…and he looked at me with the sweetest look and said “I would want to be a doctor…I love my job” …that made me feel like the hard days have been completely worth it…he’s right where he’s supposed to be!!

    • Hi Amy, were you aware of the hard times ahead when you were dating, and if not, would you still have pursued the relationship? I’m only asking because I’m reading all of these posts, and realising that all my nursing friends are right. My boyfriend and I have been together for one year, (we both go to church regularly as well) but plan to get married once he finishes studying (in about 3 years). My friends who are nurses all tell me I’m ‘very brave’ and I ‘won’t see him much’. When I tell him these things he assures me he’ll be there for us, and we won’t miss out on too much. But from reading everyones posts and comments I’m starting to wonder if I should continue. I love him, so much that it hurts a lot to even think about life without him. And I want to be a supportive wife one day, and if this is the way we can minister to the world than I guess that’s a good thing. I understand that any man dedicated to his profession isn’t going to only be at work 9 – 5, Monday – Friday. But just how much am I going to see him? When our children are sick, he’s not going to be there. Are they going to grow up and wish they’d had a father who was there for them. Are they going to know their dad? Am I going to know him! I can’t bare the thought of being married and having a family with a man who isn’t there. Is it like being a single parent (obviously without the same financial strain as a single parent)?

      • Hi Amy! I can tell you with one hundred percent honesty that I would marry my husband again and again and again. I couldn’t live without him, not happily anyway. I would ask yourself if you feel the same way. If you do, then there’s your answer, if you don’t then you probably have some thinking to do. Being a doctor’s wife isn’t easy, it’s a lot of sacrifice, but as far as I’m concerned it’s completely worth it. We just make the best of the time we do have together. The time you will get to spend with him will vary a lot depending on which stage of his career he is in. During med school, there are times that are more hectic than others. Residency requires a great deal of time, but some rotations are more relaxed than others. When he’s building his practice, he’ll be pretty busy, but after a while things will calm down some. I can tell you that our daughter is now 8 months old and even though I’m the parent who’s with her most, she loves her daddy better than anyone. Her eyes light up as soon as she sees him and she says “da da da da” over and over while they’re playing. There are days you might feel like a single parent, but certainly not the majority of the time. My advice is to ask yourself if the time you spend together is worth the time you wont get to. For me it is. “I’d rather have thirty minutes of wonderful, than a lifetime of nothing special.” That’s from one of my favorite movies, Steel Magnolias and is one of my favorite quotes. I hope this advice has helped.

      • Hi Elle,

        Just wanted to underscore what Lisa replied to. I met my husband in undergrad. He’s now finished with med school and two residencies, and we’re 6mo into opening our own practice. There have absolutely been days/weeks when I felt like a single parent – night rotations, surgery rotations, ob rotations. But I wouldn’t trade a day of it for a life with someone else (or with him in another profession). As with any relationship, there are good times, then bad times, then good times again. You learn to make the most of your time together – and to make the most of your time apart too! (Who doesn’t want to watch their favorite guilty pleasure and eat ice cream w/o having to share??). Intern year was probably the roughest, and is for most programs – but it’s just one year. And if he’s passionate about what he’s doing, and you work together to make your relationship work for both of you, then a medical career does not have to be a deal breaker.

      • Hi Elle,
        I think I am probably in a slighly different situation because my husband and I had already been married for 14 years and had 3 children when he started medical school. We had experienced a different pace of life when my husband ran a christian radio station and often had the kids there with him. So, it was a MAJOR life change for us. HOWEVER, even with the struggles and the changes – we are adjusting. Life is just different. Perhaps I had to adjust my idealistic view of having my husband around for every event, yet when he is around, we all enjoy our time together. I would definitely walk this path again, even knowing all I now know because I am certain that my husband loves us and makes us a priority. For those in medical careers, they often have to miss some holidays or birthdays or special events…people are sick and need care; however, my advice to you is to live with intention…intentionally build your relationship…take steps to strengthen it and help it to grow. Going into a relationship with your eyes open, being ready to invest in your relationship will give you the best opportunity to avoid having unrealistic expectations yet still have a wonderful fulfilling relationship.

  10. I also am a Dr.’s wife. An Orthopedic Trauma Surgeon. That in itself creates it’s own set of challenges. I have to laugh at your blog. It’s all so true. Being 10 years out of residency I still remember it all and wonder how I ever managed to have 3 children through it all. One thing I know for me is that it was a blessing that I was a Nurse and got to work with these guys on a daily basis to understand their “other life” otherwise I don’t think I could have ever appreciated what they truly go through and have the patients and understanding as a Dr.’s wife. When my husband/children’s father “the surgeon” is absent for a “big” event in their life I always have a saying for them. “Just remember kids there is someone in life that needs Daddy more right now then we do…….that was God’s plan and that’s why he’s not present in body but he’s always present in heart and mind”

  11. I just remember 13 years ago while living in Indianapolis. I asked a well respected Surgeon’s wife who appeared to have a happy/healthy marriage. “What advice would you give to a new Dr.s wife”? This is what she told me. “Only have as many children that you can handle alone because the majority of their life you will be a single parent.” Interesting observation from someone with wisdom.

  12. there’s no such thing as a glamorous life for anyone involved in any relationship with a doctor. So much of our world thinks all the doctor spouses live like Dr.90210. As a female physician, I think one more thing that makes it even harder for non physician spouses is those doctor socials where everyone just talks about medicine. I was at a party last week, there was a non physician wife sitting alone in the corner cause every single person can’t stop talking about work, so yes, we decided to have a good conversation about the bachelor show. There are gold seekers, but most do it for sacrifice and love. there’s no glamour. you’re totally right about that.

  13. Wow. My best friend just sent me this article and as I layed in my bed dreading laundry day and taking care of my baby because I was tired and alone while hubby is at work (yes feeling sorry for myself) …She texted me and said: “read this i think you will like.”
    This made my day!! made me feel so wonderful and gave me tons of energy. Made me feel special and unlike what many people think, beign a wife and stay at home wife is not a job….let me tell you…it is!! I is what we choose to do and we enjoy it eventhough it has its hard crazy moments. It is no les difficult than a 9-5. In the contrary it can be harder but so much more rewarding. Thank you for postiing this. I feel so much more love, respect, and wonderful for my hubby baby and myself. Love this Blog!!

    • Great! I am so happy that you could find some encouragement here! You’re right being a stay at home mom IS hard work anyone who says otherwise has obviously never done it. We’re happy to have you follow us!

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  15. I relate to this completely. My husband is an anesthesiologist. I married him between his first and second years of medical school during my undergrad. You’ve really encouraged me with your positive attitude toward your role. Let me tell you, the finances will get better but the hours stay the same.

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