Letting Go of Expectations

From hectic life in the USA to island life as a stay-at-home-wife, this blog follows the musings of an anxious Type-A as she learns to slow down and tune in to the important things in life


Category: Med School Wife Life

What to Expect as a Med School Wife: Year 1

Medical school is a long and grueling process. Students have a ton of studying to do, often on little sleep, and the whole thing is stressful and competitive. Everyone knows what the students go through, but it’s harder to know what you should expect as a med school wife (or husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, or fiancé).

For Husband and I, year one of med school is over and he is already in the thick of year two. We survived year one! It was no walk in the park, though. A LOT has changed since then, and much of it has been for the better.

Maybe you’re just beginning life with a medical student and want to know what you’ve gotten yourself into. Maybe your significant other is in the process of applying for med school. In any case, these are all the things I’ve learned about life as a first-year med school wife.

med school wife view man studying at desk with his back to camera and dog laying on bed

I have gotten used to this view.

It will take time to adjust

You may have to move to a new city for your significant other to start med school. If that’s the case, you’re probably leaving friends, family, and familiarity behind. What makes that even harder is that you’ll be doing most of the adjusting and exploring on your own as soon as they start school.

Even if you don’t have to move, the life you had with your significant other will change. You will have a lot less time together. For many people, med school also means having to implement a stricter budget as you watch the student debt pile up.

Things will be hard. Some days you may cry and wonder what you got yourself into. Know that it’s normal, and give yourself time. Little by little, it will get easier. Things will get better.

The stress is real

Med school is every bit as hard as everyone makes it out to be. It’s one thing knowing it, though, and a completely different thing living it with your significant other.

There will be long nights, early mornings, countless hours spent studying, and exam weeks from hell. It’s very likely that your student will be more stressed out than you’ve ever seen them before. You never want to see them unhappy, so it’s hard to watch the pressure pile on.

All of that can affect your relationship and your own happiness. I’ve found, though, that the best way to help with the stress is to understand that…

Medical school will consume all your student’s time

Considering the hours that are necessary to be successful in med school, it’s no surprise that things such as laundry, dishes, and housework will get left by the wayside. No matter what arrangement you had about housework before, they will not have time for any of that now.

The best way to relieve some of their stress is to give them less to worry about. Make dinner, do the laundry, go grocery shopping, pack lunches, pay the bills. I guarantee that they will appreciate it and it will improve your relationship, even if they have too much on their mind to thank you in the moment.

The last thing you want to do is take time away from their studies. I’ve found that Med school students are like cats. They’re not helpful around the house but you love them anyways. No matter how much you love them and want to cuddle them, though, you have to wait until they come to you.

There is a lot you don’t yet know about how to become a doctor

It’s not as simple as going to medical school for four years and then becoming a doctor. There are board exams, clinical rotations that you may do in one location or many, residency, matching into a residency, and a whole lot more.

Since you’re along for the ride, you’ll find yourself trying to figure all this out alongside your student. Especially if you’re the planning type, the confusion and uncertainty about where you are going to end up might drive you nuts but fear not.

You will figure it out as you go

Before you know it, you will start to pick things up. Pretty soon, you will know what an OSCE is and when they need to take the Step 1. You might not know everything yet, like when they need to take the Step 2 and Step 3, but you will have more confidence in the fact that you will get it all figured out it when you need to.

This will help you get better at going with the flow of med school. I no longer agonize over what is coming up and where we’ll end up in a few years. One of the things that has aided me in letting this go is the people I’ve met along the way. Which brings me to…

You are not alone

When school first starts, there is orientation for the students and they get to know the other people in their class. During all this, you might feel like you’re on the outside looking in, but you’ll soon find that there are lots of other people in the same position as you.

Get to know these other med school wives, husbands, boyfriends, and girlfriends. They will become your close friends and some of the only people who understand the struggles of having a significant other who is in med school.

Between this new friend group and other resources, you will learn everything from what to expect in your next year of med school, to the best cities and hospitals you and your student may go  to along the way.

Your relationship will get stronger

There are a lot of relationship changes that will happen while your student is in med school. Maybe you’ve moved to a new city and you have to learn how to rely on each other more. Maybe med school means a shift in what each person brings to the relationship, such as when I stopped working full time in order to support Husband at home while he is in school.

It is hard to keep the stress of medical school from creeping into your relationship. At first, you may fight more, feel lonely, and wish things were different. But if you’ve made the commitment to stick by each other through good times, bad times, and exam weeks, you will work it out.

Not only that, but every time you work things out your relationship will become stronger. Then, when new challenges arise, you can meet them knowing that things have been hard before and you both have worked through it together.

You can enjoy the ride

Medical school comes with plenty of uncertainty, sacrifice, hard work, and tears. There will be moments when you hate the situation you’re in. You might even hate your significant other for asking so much of you while they’re in school. Overall, though, you can choose to look at each change and challenge as an adventure and a learning opportunity.

Medical school has taken Husband and me from the Midwest to the Caribbean. As someone who has a hate-hate relationship with change, I was at first really apprehensive about the move. We went through some rough times at first getting used to our new island home and his med school schedule, but now I wouldn’t trade this time for anything.

Unlike this time last year, I am now looking forward to the rest of medical school, changes and all. I’m excited to see where else this journey will take us and who we will meet along the way. If I’m going to be with him through this process, I may as well make the best of it and enjoy the little things.

There you have it! Those are the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a year-one med school wife. It seems like a lot, and I’m sure there are things I’m forgetting. If you take nothing else away, though, remember this:

It will be hard, but you can do it. Do what you can to help your student, and you’ll both get through med school just fine.

Do you have questions about being a med school wife, husband, or significant other? Are you already on the journey through med school with your student and have other advice you would like to share? Comment below!

From Breadwinner to Housewife

First thinking about it, it sounded great. I get to quit my job and become a housewife?! Sign me up! Sure, I figured I would do a little more cooking and cleaning than before, but then I would have most of my time to myself.

I had this image in my mind of a housewife living a luxurious lifestyle including coffee dates with friends in the middle of the day and regular manicures. I knew that would not be me, though – and not just because it is too hot in Grenada to drink coffee. Being the wife of a medical student means lots of debt, a tight budget, little time with Husband, and lots of time spent doing the housework of two.

Let me back up a little bit, though.

From a time well before marriage and medical school, I always thought of myself as a strong person who wouldn’t ever change my life path just for “some boy”. I was an independent horse girl, and Husband (Boyfriend, at the time) knew that he would always be second to my horse. I had been riding for far longer than I had known him and he respected my commitment to riding, my passion.

While we were dating, we were essentially financially independent from one another. We had our own vehicles and were able to move about as we pleased. Looking back on it now, I see that we were moving through life on two parallel paths.

Then, on a glorious summer day, surrounded by our family and friends, we were married. It was a joyous next step in our relationship, but I really didn’t think that marriage would change things that much. We were already living together. We had been dating for three years. I figured we would continue on exactly as we had, but with new titles and joint tax returns.

One short month after we were married, Husband started medical school in Grenada. We were both well aware of the fact that if I didn’t want to give up my life in the US, I wouldn’t have. Truth be told, though, I was feeling burned out and thought a change of scenery would be a great way to re-connect with where I wanted to go in life.

After a brief period of time exploring the island together, classes started and Husband hit the ground running. That was when I became responsible for every aspect of our lives outside of his studies, and at first, I misunderstood what that meant.

I thought it was going to mean doing a little more laundry than I was used to, not changing the laundry schedule that I have always kept because that schedule doesn’t fit his needs. I thought it was going to mean making more of the decisions, not making the majority of them because it is more important for him to be studying.

I really grappled with this feeling of making changes to accommodate Husband. It sounds terrible, I know, but hear me out.

On the one hand, I knew that he is in school, he is incredibly busy, and him being in school now is something that is going to contribute to our future together. He is busy because he is driven to succeed in a difficult field and I am super proud of him for that.

On the other hand, I pride myself on being an independent person who wouldn’t change who I am for someone else. I also refuse to fall into gender roles and being the good wife who has a clean house and a hot dinner ready for her man when he gets home is not at all what I aspired to be.

I always had goals, and I attained them for myself. But when I was no longer sure what those goals were, or what direction I wanted my life to go in, and I seemed to be turning into the good little housewife without her own goals or aspirations, I began to resent doing the things that were my side of the bargain while Husband is in school.

It was only after a lot of reflection that I was able to understand the source of the resentment. I realized that instead of walking on two parallel paths, we needed to be walking on one path, together. His path was the one leading to a more stable future, and he had already made room for me on it, so I finally decided to leave my path and join him on his.

He is leading us down this path right now, but I know that will not always be the case. And now that we are on one path together, I am not doing things either for myself or for him, but everything we do from this point forward is for us.

Now, I feel like instead of doing things for him, I do them out of respect for him. And out of respect for me, he is giving me – as he always has – the time and space to try new things and have fun.

It was worth it, but it wasn’t easy. It was only when I ceded my expectations about what it meant to be a strong, independent person that I saw that I could be that person and help my husband through medical school at the same time.

Now, I am okay with being a housewife, because I finally understand that this is the best thing that I could be doing right now to help us achieve the future that we want.

And, someday, when I am leading us down the path chasing my dreams, I know that he will be right behind me.