Married to Medicine: 6 Secrets of Doctors’ Spouses

May 3, 2017


The idea of your parents pressuring you to find a nice doctor or lawyer to marry is an old joke. In American culture, we’ve assumed that those married to doctors are living the good life – spending long days at the country club, lunching between tennis lessons and Junior League meetings and leaving domestic duties to gardeners, nannies and housekeepers. Well, even if that was true for some at one time, things just ain’t what they used to be. With the changing climate of healthcare, a doctor’s salary looks a little different than it did a generation ago, and most of that is budgeted to pay off medical school student loans. Of course, the current doctor’s salary is nothing to sneeze at, but that comes after years of study and sacrifice. No one feels the sacrifice doctors make more keenly than medical families. Here are some married to medicine secrets.

1. Being married to medicine is a leadership role.

Anything having to do with running a household – bills, cleaning, vacations, family schedules, homework, laundry – usually lands solidly on the shoulders of the doctor’s spouse, and this includes spouses that work their own full-time jobs. Physicians’ work days are long and unpredictable with a mix of medical emergencies and all the time it takes to document those encounters in the EHR.

2. Hobbies are important.

A doctor’s spouse will spend a lot of time alone. It’s not uncommon for them to pick up a hobby or three. From creative to athletic, the time gets filled, and they will not wait around for Mr. or Mrs. Doctor to do those things with them.

3. Doctor’s Spouses Are Experts at Making New Friends.

During residency, a doctor spends days at a time without seeing his/her family. And considering that residents typically move to a brand new city for their training, the spouse has to get really good at meeting new people. Usually,  a group of residents’ spouses get together often (and typically, those become life-long friendships). Building that village of support among other also married to medicine is essential to combatting loneliness.

4. Microwaveable Meal Planning.

Sometimes “I’ll be home at 6:30” actually means the doctor will be home at 6:30. But the thing about having a license to save lives is people are depend on you to come to the rescue in last-minute emergencies. “I’ll be home at 6:30” quickly turns into “hopefully I’ll get in before midnight.” Easily reheatable meals allow for this flexibility.

5. They Can School Anyone on How to Vacation.

Once the vacation dates are locked down, the planning begins. Vacations are usually far away from the hospital and nowhere near a cell phone or wifi signal. Family vacation time is family time. Itinerary, meals and accommodations are perfectly laid out, because come hell or high water, everyone will enjoy their time together, darn it!

6. They Are the Soft Landing Place.

The emotions a physician deals with day to day, including the frustrations of running their own practice, are saved for when they come home. Every victory and every terrible defeat is felt deeply by the spouses of our professional healers. They listen, they console and they give doctors the strength to go back and do it all again the next day.

Are you “married to medicine”? Tell us about your experience in the comments!