We've done a lot of adjusting in our three years of marriage, and many times prior to being married as well. Living internationally, a long-distance relationship, choosing a graduate school, moving to a new city, adjusting to medical school, new jobs, job relocation, transitioning to residency, moving to another city, so on and so forth. Sort of seems like the name of the game at this point. In no time at all, we'll already be looking into fellowship programs and re-starting this entire process. That's how quickly this first year has flown by!
I won't tell you it's been easy. It hasn't. The most difficult for me was moving back to Ann Arbor. Not because I don't love this city, it's because I also loved Charlottesville. We had such a wonderful life there, and starting over is never easy to do. New friends, jobs, home, church, grocery store, etc etc. Things change. If you have been around here a while, you know that zero percent of this is new information. I started this blog when we moved, so there have been plenty of posts about our home search, settling, (...and the list continues). That's only natural since this blog reflects life. Our life.

This particular post is for those of you who are packing up your lives and starting an entire new adventure. Just last year we were doing the same thing, and it was overwhelming. Exciting, but overwhelming. I want to reassure you that everything you're feeling right now is all very normal.





I don't talk intimately about Kyle and I's relationship, but I will tell you we got in the biggest fight of our marriage during this time. I still get chills thinking about it, because it rocked us both to the core. It wasn't pretty, a lot of screaming (we don't tend to raise our voices at one another) and many tears. I'm telling you that because didn't feel like tensions should be that high, but they were. There's simply a TON of pressure and so many unknowns. It quickly feels like your life is slipping through your fingers and you can't do anything about it. I used to think I was pretty good to adapting to change, but this one hit me much harder than I had anticipated. Then, days turned into weeks, weeks to months and we were full fledged riding the residency train. A "hold on tight" kinda feeling.

If you are reading this and thinking that all of this sounds eerily familiar, I hope you find comfort in knowing you're not alone. The reality is that this can be a really difficult time. But don't feel dismayed, it's also a time to grow individually and as a family. Here are some of the things that helped us through it:

1) Reach out - try your darnest to meet other people!

2) Be selfish with your time together. This has always been a tough one for us, but it's critical to maintaining a healthy relationship through residency (or any demanding career). There's a difficult balance when someone has limited free time, between spending time with friends/family and with your spouse. We both had to learn to say "no," to things that we'd never question attending before. BUT, we know that our time together is precious and needs to come first.



3) Communicate. When you're spouse gets home from their first shift and realizes 'this is going to be tough,' make sure you take the time to be the sounding board. It will help you serve one another better, as you'll be able to understand what your spouse is doing from day to day. It's easy to think, "oh, their working," without grasping what that entails. Just take the time to listen.

4) Pray. If you aren't a praying person, I suggest doing it. That's not some religious threat, I'm being honest. Pray for your spouse. Not only does it help connect you, you'll be able to be more understanding and compassionate towards them. Life is hard to do on your own strength, and residency seems to be a perfect platform for proving that. You'll quickly find yourself in reliance.

5) Allow yourself to vent. I went through a lot of guilt for wanting to complain but feeling like I couldn't since more than likely I wasn't the one putting in unsustainable work hours. Long hours effect everyone and it requires sacrifice on all levels. Find someone who you can trust, who will encourage you to simply talk about the experience.





6) Get busy! Find a gym, volunteer, attend events, pick up a new hobby, etc. The last thing you want is to sit around and wait..and wait...and wait... for your SO to arrive home. I remember those days last summer thinking, "but he said he'd be home by 6!" Ha. (Talk about not being in control of your schedule!) Use this as an opportunity to meet new people, or try something you've never done before! Go explore the new city!


7) Set realistic expectations. I'll be honest, this is something I really struggled with. Kyle is super energetic, ready to try new things and loves just being on the go. That changed a lot after beginning residency. It has a way of zapping a lot of energy from you! I needed to realign reality with what I wanted or expected of him, those two didn't match up in a way that fit my (unrealistic) desires. It's an adjustment that takes time for both people.


With one year down, I can say that it has gotten easier. Not the schedule, but the way we relate to it. It finally seems like we've found some ebb and flow to the demands, as well as the free time. Through the ever-present challenges, I can say we've learned to appreciate one another in an entirely new way. Life's a journey, and we're in it together.



“It is good to have an end to journey toward; 
but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
Ernest Hemingway



For some more conversations on Residency, go here:
 The Residency Forum (there will be a new post coming soon)

I'm sure there are others who have advice too, if so, please chime in :)



13 Comments

  1. Great advice as you move through these times of transition. The first three years of our marriage were exactly about picking up and moving - countries that is. It was exciting, stressful, and discombobulating all at once - however, you get through it and nothing lasts forever! Hang in there - and good luck with your move!!

    Ray Doc Wife

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  2. Hi, new poster here linking over from Medical Mondays. Great suggestions! For me the most helpful thing has been finding a women's volunteer organization and really getting involved doing something for others. Not only have I made great friends, but it also gives me something to do other than watch TV on those weeknights when Hubby isn't home and gives me a sense of greater connection to the community. Also, we had a very similar situation with the worst fight of our relationship happening during a surgery month of his intern year, but we both now realize that it was due to his extreme exhaustion and my stress at just not seeing him enough to connect and being far from home. Who knows where life will lead us once he finishes his residency, but I am not scared about it because I know we have seen the worst and can face anything.

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    1. Hi! Glad you stopped by! "Not seeing him enough to connect," definitely rings true here too...and the extreme exhaustion part. A women's volunteer group is an excellent idea, as it has also proved difficult to feel involved in the community since 'doing things alone' just isn't as fun. Thanks for the advice :)!

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  3. thanks for sharing this! I feel like I can relate to a lot of these things now and my husband is still in med school...maybe that means I'll be extra prepared come residency? I can only hope!

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    1. Hi Sarah, I related to them all when my hubby was in medical school too - it's a great preview & preparation! When will you two begin the residency process?

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  4. I've been reading your blog for a while but have never commented, and I just felt the need to say that this was a great post! I'm not married, and have no connection to the medical/residency world but this advice is still relevant to my life too. Oh, and I'm in Michigan as well! About 40 minutes away in Berkley :)

    Julia
    Cup of Tea
    http://cupoftea-style.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Julia! So glad you commented, I just spend 20 minutes enjoying your adorable blog - looking forward to following :)
      Love that you are so close too! Berkley is a great little area - so accessible to everything!

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  5. Amen to #2! It can be so hard when family expect you to visit on your free weekends, but you just have to say no sometimes. Just because we have a "free" weekend doesn't mean that we want to travel. Most of the time it is spent catching up on sleep for the hubs and just getting to hang out around the house together. It's so nice and so necessary!

    Anyway, all good tips! Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Such a sweet post - a great list of advice for people in that position!

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  7. Hi there!! It has been a while... And I am obviously catching up from a crazy few months. So... I am catching up on your blog while having my first solo dinner out. What an adjustment?! Sometimes you just want Mexican and a Margarita. So... Thanks for this post 3 months late. Just want I needed to read!!

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  8. Meredith,

    Came across your blog the other day and it has been such a HUGE blessing to me. Thank you for all the truth and advice you've shared about residency! My husband is about to graduate from UVA and match day is in exactly one month, so I feel like I can totally relate to just about everything you've said. :)

    It's been so nice to find that I'm not alone...and so refreshing to hear your positive outlook on life as a resident's wife in this crazy time of transition. Thank you, thank you!

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    1. Hi Lindsay! My husband went to UVA for med school as well - We LOVE Charlottesville!!
      I remember the feelings you are going through so well, it's such an exciting and yet stressful time. You are certainly not alone! Looking forward to keeping in touch and hearing where you guys land :)

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  9. We love it too! It will be difficult to leave, that's for sure. Thanks again...and I'll definitely be reading along and keeping in touch :)

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