Today has been pretty exciting in that I learned that there are some husbands of female doctors out there who are frustrated by the same old script when it comes to gender roles and the archetype of all doctors as young, straight white males who have June Cleavers at home keeping the martini pitcher full and never getting too drunk to walk in their high heels.
The other exciting news is that I learned about FeminEM, and you can cruise over to the resources page to learn more about them. While the site was started as a place to deal with things related to women in Emergency Medicine, there are many of these pieces that are useful to docs and SOs of docs in any area.
Both of these great things came across my desk/laptop screen after my dog walk and some work at the old day job. Before that, I was looking at yet another post from a frustrated wife and mother who used the word "hate" to describe how she felt about her husband's focused studying and time spent with patients. Dr. D came home off a 14 hour night shift to find me on the couch drinking coffee and dissecting the post over some vegan poppy seed muffins (I run a food blog, too. I stay busy).
She read the post and we had a brief co-gripe session about it. One of the statements was that the husband apparently told her the patients he sees are more important than her daily parenting drama, and "think of the Syrian refugees!" I suspect that in reality her husband is probably just as confused and frustrated. While I will say that if he literally said to her that the patients are more important than his family that he's an ass, I have to wonder if what he really communicated was how grateful he is that the kids are all healthy and that he has a spouse to help him through the next few years. He may not be great at expressing himself.
Did I tell you the story about the last third year resident get together I hosted here at the house? If I did, sorry to repeat it, but it's relevant here. The campus I work for is based in Michigan. Dr. D has never been to Michigan with me. I attend graduations and other campus events alone. When I went full time there, she was still in medical school (I worked as an adjunct before that). I was about to leave for a short trip, and one of the residents asked if D had ever gone with me. "Nope."
"Don't you want to go to Michigan with Angel?"
I could see the panic in D's eyes. I just looked at her and said, "The answer is 'yes.' Just say 'yes.'"
She made a good save; she said "yes" but made sure to add that she misses me when I'm gone but that she really has no burning desire to go to Michigan. And, I get it--I don't go to work with her when she has to go to the hospital. We've had discussions about all of this stuff and while those discussions weren't always fun, they're necessary.
At the same table is another female resident whose husband also has HQ in Michigan--but no one ever asks her, I bet, if she goes with her spouse to Michigan. Just saying.
That post I was vaguely talking about? There was nothing in there about what the spouse had done to address the issue. It was all about how angry she gets when he disappears to study. There was no focus on the times when he's not studying for exams. There was no indicators of what she does to try to alleviate the burden to make time so that they can spend time together.
My point here is that it's time to flip the script. None of these expectations really matter. If you got married and started having kids before medical school or residency you're going to have to redefine what it is you want from that marriage. As good or rotten as it sounds, the idea you had about what your married life was going to be should change (even if one of you isn't a doctor). It's part of growing up.
And, if that doesn't work, just remember that you're just here for now.
This blog is written from the perspective of an older medical spouse who happens to be childless by choice. I hope that husbands, older spouses, those childless by choice, and others will find this entertaining and occasionally useful.