Do you believe in fairytales?
Every girl dreams of a fairytale love story. Walking down the street, slipping on a banana peel, and gracefully falling into “Prince Charming’s” arms. In today’s world, even though we may dream of a memorable love story, our families mostly wish for us to stumble into someone that can offer us stability in life.
Well, those old-school ‘fairytales’ also come with sacrifice and a few blurry fine print details.
While I feel blessed to have a partner that has dedicated his life to the care and needs of others, there are some challenges that come with being married to someone whose career is service-oriented.
Love Above Everything
In a timeframe of six months, everything happened. We found each other, got engaged, I quit my job, and we got married. With one suitcase each and a few dollars in our pocket, we moved out of state to begin my husband’s medical residency. Our wedding was short, sweet, and unplanned. All we needed was a judge and our immediate family by our side. Nothing fancy, but sentimental and meaningful nonetheless.
Little did we know that it was to be a reflection of our future.
Without time for a honeymoon, we flew straight to our new home and our REAL life began.
I was unemployed and pregnant during my husband’s residency, which compounded the fact that he was earning a very low salary while working 80-90 hours per week. To make matters worse, then the student loan payment requests began to arrive (for both college and medical school). To pay this debt and help us financially survive through three years of residency, my husband joined the Air Force Reserves.
Behind the Scenes
Did you know that finances are often quoted by couples as one of the top causes for their divorce? Many careers that require higher education or prior investment to be financially secure can create similar stress early in a marriage. Success in these fields comes from long work hours, blood, sweat, tears, and expenses that can take a toll on both spouses.
The overhead to run a medical office is over the top (facilities, staff, maintenance, equipment, malpractice insurance, marketing, etc), and there is a constant struggle with health insurance companies due to the high price of coverage.
However, financial planning for our kids’ future is very important to us, so instead of living an extravagant lifestyle, we choose to live a “realistic” one. You won’t see housekeepers, house employees, or nannies running around our house! And though our children are blessed with everything and more than we ever dreamed of as kids, it is important for us to keep them grounded and teach them the value of hard work.
Parenting: Am I a Single Mom?
My husband’s demanding job, unfortunately, leaves him with little time to spend with our family, so I spend my day doing my best to take care of the needs of our home so that we can have quality time together in the few moments we have when he gets home.
Like every mom, time for myself is hard to find.
Most often you will find me sitting alone at parent-teacher conferences, ballet practices, soccer games, and school recitals.
Don’t get me wrong – by no means am I complaining about the life I’ve chosen. I am both humbled and proud to play a major role in our home life so that my husband can do the important work he does. That is an important job by itself, particularly during a pandemic when our health care workers are so overtaxed. I just want to give physicians and their families the credit they deserve. There are many moms out there carrying equal responsibilities plus a full-time career and many other burdens. Many themselves are physicians and I understand how hard this chosen life is.
I also know that stories go deeper than the one I’m telling you – each one with a different challenge and perspective.
Romance: Keeping Love in the Air
Once the kids are in bed and my husband comes home, we try to enjoy some dinner with a glass of wine, whether it’s 8pm or 10pm. We consider it a date since it is hard to plan one anyways. I try to give him my full attention because he needs to decompress after a long day. Or maybe he just needs my non-judgmental company while watching a football game (if he can stay awake).
Others aren’t so lucky and may not even see their spouses at night. Anything romantic is hard to plan given the busy and unpredictable schedule of a doctor. We are happy just having them home and maybe squeezing in a quick trip to Lowe’s or the beach if they are not on call.
Twelve years into our marriage, we have yet to go on our honeymoon, but I’m okay with that.
Reality: Nothing Like a TV Show
The clock of a doctor and their spouse never runs on schedule.
Yes, we are beyond blessed to lead the life we live, but by no means was it handed to us on a silver platter. We’ve both made enormous sacrifices. He works endlessly to help people in need and on top of that has served his country as an active-duty officer in the military which included a deployment right after our second child was born.
His priority is gaining the trust of his patients and taking exceptional care of them around the clock. It comforts him to know he can provide our kids with a safe home to live in, a good education, and take care of our debt.
However, the mental toll and stress that comes with all of that are not to be taken lightly.
The kids and I support him wholeheartedly, but we’ve made some sacrifices too. I gave up everything that made me “ME” and I have poured my life and soul into our home and family. I am usually the last person my husband gets to call during the day because so many others need him more than I do.
In the end, those of us who are married to doctors and medical professionals all have the same principle: to support the person we LOVE by letting them know we have everything under control so they can continue caring for those who need it most, particularly as we have navigated the Covid-19 pandemic over the past 18 months.
I still believe in fairytales and I will keep teaching my kids to dream big and reach for the stars.
It takes a lifetime to reach a “happily ever after,” but it’s the journey, and the lessons learned that make it worth striving for.
“HEROES WEAR SCRUBS”
“HEROES WEAR UNIFORMS”