You can meld marriage and medical school

November 23, 2010 —

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.


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