Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I'm the doctor my mother wanted me to marry

When I first started medical school, I had not yet started dating the man I was to marry and I had only an inkling of what qualities I wanted to find in that man. Sense of humor? Probably. Brilliant? Definitely. Tall, dark, and handsome? Sure. But I knew one thing with absolute certainty: I didn't want him to be a doctor.

I had a stereotype in my head of male doctors as men who were constantly chased after by women, regardless of their looks or personality. I figured male doctors believed they could have any woman they wanted, and I didn't want anything to do with a man like that. Modesty is a quality I value highly in the opposite sex.

Over the course of my medical training, I've met a lot of men who fit that stereotype to a tee. It's been frustrating seeing the way (some) female nurses swoon over my male counterparts. I've been shocked at the attention some of my male colleagues have received from the opposite sex, when it was clear they would have had trouble even getting a date if they were in a lot of other professions. It's especially frustrating for a female physician to observe this, since a lot of men are intimidated by our profession; whereas a male physician is "a catch". Damn double standards.

Of course, I've met a lot of male physicians who have proved me wrong. (Mostly, those men didn't become surgeons.)

So in the end, I didn't end up marrying a physician. He's in the sciences as well, but not medicine. Although it might be nice if he could understand some of the more medically complicated stories from my day, I'm usually pretty glad I veered away from marrying a doctor. I wouldn't want to come home to a doctor any more than I want to come home and turn on House, MD. He's my much-needed escape from the medical world.

Another unexpected added benefit of not being married to a doctor is that now that we have a child, we don't have to concern ourselves with working out our call schedules so that at least one of us is always home. He's home every night. Lucky bastard.

But I'm sure lots of women out there will assure me that being married to a male doc is all that and more, as long as you find the right one.


  1. My sister is married to another physician and I'm not, so I can do a fairly swift compare and contrast. My life is much less chaotic. That's all there is to it.

  2. I'm a nurse and I've NEVER seen the big attraction to marrying a Dr. Sure, it would be nice to have someone to discuss all things medical with, but the schedule would be horrendous and you are right...the constant fawning by female staff would totally get to me after awhile.

  3. I married the love of my life. Who happens to be an MD. (p.s. not all MDs have call schedules to deal with. Neither of us do.)But, this goes in line with my picking a specialty philosophy: go with what you love and the rest will follow. Although, I've never been able to "pick" whom I fell for.

  4. On my first day on the way to dental school, I met an attractive young man on the bus. We figured out that we were both going to our first day of dental school (from married housing). He wondered why my husband would "allow" me to go to school with a bunch of men....U of M DDS '79.

  5. I'm married to another MD, and thank goodness he doesn't take call anymore, but we often find ourselves mulling over our lack of time for the kids activities, and for domestic stuff (cooking and cleaning) and think about how great it would be if "we" had a "wife". Maybe I'd let him be more than an aquaintance with her (well, maybe...), but at least one day I'd come home to the laundry done, dinner on the table, and a house ready for company to arrive. OK, I'll keep dreaming...I think of some of my med school friends (some of them only marginally attractive at best), and their "trophy wives" (who are NOT of the MD type), and marvel about how different their lives must be. But then the grass is always greener, isn't it?...Gotta go fold some clothes and sleep before my next "torture session" in the ER tonight...But I'm sure your husband is proud to have you around, even with a call schedule...

  6. I'm married to an MD--we are both GPs in a smaller town--and we actually find the opposite. Because we are family doctors, we have complete control over our schedules, and can book clinics & call, anesthesia days, ER shifts and OB shifts as we need to. We are organized, but never frantic.

    We both choose to work part-time since we can easily live on that, and share childcare between us with some part-time daycare to mix things up.

    I actually find it's our non-medical friends who are going crazy: both working more than full-time, travelling for work, stressed about money, busy busy busy compared to us. We're very lucky.

    The hardest thing is taking control of your schedule, but it's doable. It's always doable.

  7. A story and a question:

    I was engaged to marry a surgeon (I am a professional woman from another non-medical discipline). Two months before our wedding, I learned that he was having an affair with one of the nurses he worked with. He told me that they had 'bonded' over the trauma that they saw together every day.

    That was the end of that relationship.

    My mother's friend was sympathetic, her husband (surgeon, also) left her for a nurse after 20 years and two children. She told me this happens all the time.

    Fast forward ten years and I am happily married to a wonderful man (non-medicine). But I still often do doctor/nurse affairs happen?

  8. It happened to me. My husband's a resident and had an 3-month affair (essentially one rotation) with a nurse because they too "bonded" over a trauma. Nothing can excuse their behavior, nothing. But, I made vows and we're trying to make our marriage work.

    As for her, she turned out to be a nut job and I just reported her behavior to HR. I expect nothing will happen, but I hope she continues to feel worthless and embarrassed for a very long time...

  9. I am married to an MD who has been on staff now for almost 3 years. We married the summer before his 4th year of med school. He always told me that I was more important than his medical career and after almost 12 yrs that has continued to be true.

    His career has always been an "us" decision and our goal, not just his (I actually made him reapply after his 1st year of residency to a different program that was better for his specialty). My husband wound up doing his residency and fellowship at one of the country's top institutions and we both loved it there.

    Is being married to a physician all it's cracked up to be? Of course not! My husband is on call a lot, just wrote his first book, and his schedule dictates our lives. I am the master of continuing onto social events or carrying on dinners he wound up not making it to on my own. Everyone has a "normal" and I consider this our "normal".

    I have a lot of respect for my husband for how hard he works and what he does to help others (not to mention being a financial person myself and knowing his job is recession proof). :) But I also think it takes a strong woman (or man) to be married to a physician - given their intelligence, skill, money making power, etc. There can be a lot to be arrogant about. Though I recall respectfully telling my husband that he had reached the point in his life where he had so much going on that he no longer could remember everything. Years later I found out that he applied this principle to his work thinking maybe he didn't remember everything there either.

    I have never based my "end all be all" on my husband's career, but rather I like to think of myself behind every good man is a good woman. Thinking of that way hopefully has helped me help him in his career and not just take from it. It seems my friends who have taken more from their husband's careers are the ones who are divorced (though I know this is not always true across the board - just my experience). My other "doctor wife" friends who have kept their own identity aside from being married to a doctor are the ones who seem to have stronger marriages.

    Being married to a physician is not all peaches and cream, and I don't think it's for every woman, but it can truly be great, if you find the right one. :) Having said this, there are a few books out there called "The Medical Marriage". I plan to read a couple just for kicks just to see what lights are shed.


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