You can meld marriage and medical school

by Barb Boose 4 Comments

Any spouse will tell you that a good marriage requires work. And any medical school student or graduate will tell you that that level of professional education requires arduous study.

“Put those two together, and you have your work cut out for you,” says Lynn Martin, Ph.D., DMU’s director of educational support services. “Spouses often feel taken for granted. Students often feel torn between academic performance and the ability to be a contributing member of the couple and family.”

Martin offers these tips to juggle both successfully:

  • Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Always greet each other (this does not include yelling, “I’m in here on the computer”) when you reunite at the end of the work/ school day. Let your partner know you missed them.
  • Try to spend at least 10 minutes each day to talk about “non-maintenance” topics. (Maintenance conversation includes, “Will you pick up Ashley from child-care tomorrow?” “Did you pay that bill?” “What do we need at the grocery store?”) Sound easy? Give it a try: Most married couples spend less than 30 minutes per week in non-maintenance conversation.
  • Sync your calendars once a week to find at least one block of time that you can spend as a couple – then follow through.
  • Put the couple first. When children see the stability and love within the couple, the safety and security trickle down. Prioritize time with your partner.
  • Don’t absolve the student of all household responsibilities – and then expect that to change once the student moves on to rotations and eventually residency and/or a job. It won’t.
  • Remember, medical school is training for a career, not an identity. You can be replaced in your career by the next talented individual who comes along. You can’t be replaced in your family.

  • 4 responses to "You can meld marriage and medical school"

  • Beth Seidl
    15:52 on December 8th, 2010
    Reply to Comment

    I couldn’t agree more with your advice. Communication is a key element in any healthy relationship. I know that picking one night each week for a “Date Night” has really helped my husband. Even if that means renting a movie and cooking dinner together–it gives us that sense of normalcy.

    Thanks for the wonderful advice!


  • Barb
    21:55 on December 8th, 2010
    Reply to Comment

    Good for you, Beth, about your date night – even for couples NOT in medical school, that’s a great habit that too often goes by the wayside. Best to you and all our students and their spouses in “keeping your eyes on the prize.”

  • Daniel Kraeger
    14:33 on March 30th, 2011
    Reply to Comment

    Hi Barb, nice article. When I began at DMU in 1983, there was an organization at school for the spouses called SAA: (Beth later became president of SAA for three years), At the very first meeting my wife attended, Leonard Azneer, the University President at that time, told the wives to look to their left and right and realize that at least one of those people would not be around at graduation. His words were prophetic as unfortunately our class had its share of divorces. Beth and I made a commitment to our marriage by meeting for lunch one day each week when I began my practice. Now, nearly 20 years later, we both feel it is one of the best things we have ever done. Each Wednesday we meet for lunch at a local restaurant. It’s been Cousins for the past five years. Many of Beth’s friends know about this, my associates at work know not to schedule anything for that noon because I will not be there, and many of our friends from church or around town who see us each week know of our little get together. People will literaly say to me; “oh it’s Wednesday, are you meeting Beth today?” This hour has allowed us to stay on top of our work schedules, raising three children, and social event items. We both sit down with our calendar and catch up. Beth will agree with me that this hour is the highlight of our week because we know we get to have lunch with our best friend. This year we will celebrate our 30th year of marriage. Not bad for a couple of kids who began dating at 15 and 17. God bless, Dan

  • Barb
    19:05 on April 8th, 2011
    Reply to Comment

    Great advice, Dr. Kraeger, from you and your best friend! And I’m glad DMU continues to have an organization for our students’ significant others. Congratulations, too, on your 30th anniversary this year – that’s truly a wonderful accomplishment, gift and example.

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