Relationships in Residency

August 28, 2017

Thursday is my third wedding anniversary! If you are doing the math, that means the bulk of time we have been married (um, all of it) has been when while we were (slash are) residents.  There is no question, residency is hard and it can certainly take a toll on a relationship.  To top that all off, my dad was diagnosed with cancer and died shortly afterwards during my second and third year of residency, which put an additional load on us.  In honor of our anniversary, I figured I would talk about a few things that have helped us navigate challenging times. Now full disclosure, I am no relationship guru and every relationship is different, but this is what have worked for us.

Don’t talk about work when you get home. This may seem obvious, but it can be REALLY hard to do in residency. You literally live and breathe work. The amount of time spent at the hospital is enormous! It can be really tempting to come home and unload your day’s work on your partner — especially if, in my case, your husband is also a resident — but we have found that not talking about work all the time is much more therapeutic. Of course, there are times when you genuinely need someone to lean on, and then you absolutely should talk to your partner! But making it an every day thing will just wear down on your relationship.

Make time for each other.  I know, you’re probably looking at me like “yeah, duh.” But this one is important, and I have seen many relationships fail in residency because this just wasn’t happening. Sometimes you are just so tired, or overwhelmed, or you have work to do. You can literally come up with a million things to do, but it’s important to realize that there are other things besides work that are important — like the rest of your life! Do something simple like going for a walk or grabbing some dinner together or even cooking together. You have more time than you think! Our motto in residency has always been quality of quantity.

Put away that smartphone. This goes hand in hand with making time for each other. But putting away the smartphone and not being glued to twitter, instagram, and facebook will do wonders for your relationship. You will listen more and be more engaged. Being present never hurt anyone. Be present.

Try out the other person’s hobbies. If your partner loves to snowboard (mine is obsessed), try it! You might love it! I didn’t love snowboarding, but I sure as heck tried to so that I could be out there on the mountain with my husband on weekends. In the end, it turned out I was much more of a skier — so even though we aren’t exactly doing the same activity, we can still ski and snowboard on weekends together.  My husband also started running after we started dating, and now we go on runs together. Getting involved in your partner’s hobbies will open a new channel for spending time together. Now, I don’t always have to choose between going for a run or spending time with my husband… I can do both at the same time. Win, win.

Split chores. We both do different things around the house so that one person doesn’t get stuck doing everything.  I found that chores could get really overwhelming in residency when I would get home at 7 and would only have two or so hours before bed to get everything done. Splitting chores was key! When the other person was on a busy rotation, the other one would try to pick up the slack and so forth. It just worked for us and kept things manageable.

These are just a few things that have helped us survive the murky waters of residency in our relationship. I think they can honestly apply to any relationship, though!

I’m curious, what are you relationship tips and tricks?

By Lia