Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Helpful Spouses

What are some special things that your spouse has done to make you feel loved/supported during your residency?


(recently earned a PhD in Immunology and is married to a 4th year medical student/ soon-to-be orthopedic surgery intern. She has a newborn and a 2 year-old.)

My spouse was amazingly supportive during residency. He listened to me when I needed to rant about my crazy day, understood when I needed to work late and would make special visits to bring me dinner when I was on call. He had always been helpful around the house, but that also went to a new level in residency.

Residency is about survival, so one thing we found helpful was to dream. We had regular date nights, and early on it was hard not to spend the entire time at dinner just complaining about work. So we began to talk about our future life or plan the next vacation. Having something to look forward too was always helpful.

We had our son during my third year, so that obviously changed the dynamic. At that point he became a stay at home dad and truly embraced that position.

So, I think the answer is to do everything you can to meet his needs. Which will be different for a man than a woman. It will obviously be challenging since you have needs too, a job and 2 small children going into this process. He may not care about the house being clean, so figure out what is most important to him, focus on those things and let the other crap go. I am going to venture out on a guess that his 2 biggest needs are respect and sex. This is based completely on my observation of men and specifically orthopedic surgeons.

Obviously he should try to meet your needs as well, but the question was how to be supportive of your spouse during residency.


  1. One of the most helpful things my husband did for me while in residency was be flexible. He never questioned the fact that I had no set time to be leaving the hospital and didn't get offended or upset when I was later than I thought I would be.

  2. I wonder if I'm the only person who read this post and did a double take. Listening, being understanding, spending regular time together, making plans for the future. Sounds logical and healthy. But "Do everything you can to meet his needs"? (With the stereotypical assumption that those needs would be sex and respect. Huh.)

    For me, that totally comes out of left field. Too often, I see doctors' spouses who subjugate themselves. They take care of their partners at their own expense, they put their own careers on hold, they leave behind family and friends to move back and forth across the country during medical training.

    My husband did lots of supportive things for me during medical school and residency, but I certainly never expected or even wanted him to meet all my needs. I think to put that kind of burden on a single person is unhealthy and unrealistic.

  3. Yes, "meet all his needs" was perhaps not the best phrasing. You are right, you should not look to one person to meet all your needs. I was trying to answer the question honestly. What I was trying to say was to when you trying to be supportive of him don't waste your efforts on things that aren't important to him. Keep communication open. The things that my husband did for me that I thought were helpful, won't necessarily apply to a male surgeon.

    Yes, "sex and respect" are stereotype male needs. But stereotypes exist for a reason.

  4. I need respect and sex, too, and I'm not a male.

  5. Sex is key!

    - busy resident mom and wife to busy resident dad

  6. Luckily my husband watches Grey's Anatomy. When he saw Baily's husband file for divorce, he was like - What is wrong with that guy? She is a surgeon!

    I am still a first year medical student - so residency is a long way off, but he gets it. Thank you television for easing my fears.

  7. Thanks for the clarification Gizabeth.


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