How to survive (and thrive) with a doctor (in-training) spouse

Okay guys and gals, this entry is written tongue-in-cheek, but those of you who are in this sort of situation know that there is a great amount of truth in what I’m about to say.  Take it in jest, and know that everyone is in good company. Once the dust settles after their training is over, life does get a whole lot better…at least certain aspects of it.  Those spouses who just matched into residency last week (#Match2018), well get ready for a bumpy but rewarding journey for the next few years…or decade!

Time 

Time is always in short supply. Sure, there are regulation work hours, but it’s uncommon that the work ends when medical residents leave the hospital or clinic.  There are exams to study for, grand rounds to present, papers to review, and articles to author.  There is a call schedule, where both of you (plus the children and pets) are woken up at potentially ungodly hours.  Depending on the specialty, rigor of the training program, and motivation of your spouse, time will always be in short supply.

There really isn’t too much leeway on this borrowed time, especially if you expect your significant other to successfully finish her training, graduate, and start earning the big bucks.

The key to time management is to set protected time, whether it is only a few hours a day and a handful more on the weekends. This is the 21st century, and not the 1980’s where the doctor spouse essentially lives a parallel life from his (more male doctors then) family. The family gets a say in how time is allocated. By simply having a time management schedule, everyone in the household actually becomes more productive. Once both of your schedules open up with more free time, then you will be superstars.

Organization 

If your doctor spouse is highly organized and contributes to arranging the family schedules, then consider yourself lucky.  Given the hectic training schedules, it is unlikely that any medical resident would have much more executive function that staying alive. If you have more time on your schedule, then it is up to you to plan family schedules and have your spouse follow them. This includes kids’ events, family outings, and whatever other events that your spouse ought to be present in. It is unlikely that you will have any opposition if you lay out everything.  Pack her lunch, make sure you have a good system to keep track of important events, and delegate away.

Leftover donuts from grand rounds might be all you’ll get if you rely on your doctor spouse for dinner.

Finance

Finance is an interesting arrangement in a doctor household. If you, the non-physician spouse, have a full-time job, it’s likely that you are the breadwinner.  This probably also means that you are calling the shots on home purchases, big ticket items, and the general business structure of the home.

Some spouses have career situations where they will always remain the breadwinner even after the doctor spouse finishes training. It’s actually becoming more common as insurance reimbursements dwindle and some doctors opt to work part-time. It’s even more important for you to be attuned to the financial health of the household if your doctor spouse has no interest in money (that is still okay).

If you are lucky / unlucky to have a doctor spouse to trolls Bogleheads or understands all of the latest nuances in tax codes, just hand over the money matters to him (yes, it is almost always a guy). As long as he can delegate time and organization matters to you, then you have the foundation for an efficient household.

What other strategies have you implemented to keep your doctor spouse in line?

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