I’ve mentioned before that the passion behind my business comes from my passion for marriage. A big part of why I love to photograph weddings is because I love being a part of the amazing journey that the couple is about to set out on together! Photographing their love on the day that they vow to spend the rest of their lives together is just a small part that I can play in helping them on their way to an everlasting marriage! But I want to take it one step further than that by stepping out of my comfort zone and blogging about marriage! Hence my new blog series, Marriage Musings! This will consist of various blog posts regarding different topics about marriage, including tips and advice that I’ve learned and discovered through my own marriage! Now I am not claiming to be an expert on this or say that my marriage perfect. But rather my marriage is imperfect and we have learned a lot of lessons along the way. The first few years of marriage can be quite a rollercoaster ride with plenty of ups and downs and a lot of learning and adjusting. So it is my goal to help those couples to know that you are not alone and offer any words of wisdom or advice that I can!
One question that I get all the time is “What is like to be married to a medical student? Do you ever see each other?” Being in medical school is no joke and not for the faint of heart. Especially when you have a new marriage to attend to! We even found that there was a spouse support group amongst his class! Branden started medical school a few weeks after we got married so we were faced with a lot of new challenges in a very short period of time. When people ask Branden what medical school is like, he described it as trying to drink water from a fire hose. They expect you to be pretty sharp and able to learn and master a lot of content in a very short period of time. So needless to say, the hours and workload were pretty exhausting. Our few weeks of newlywed bliss were abruptly cut short when medical school started and basically took over our lives. There were a lot of mistakes made along the way in terms of how we responded to this, but in the end we learned a lot of valuable lessons and came out of it stronger! So I wanted to share some tips and advice that we learned along the way. These don’t just apply to a spouse of medical student, but to anyone that is married to someone with a demanding job. I once had a client that was about the start law school reach out to me for advice for he and his wife on how to manage the stress. So if you are married to someone that has a demanding job and schooling, hopefully this can help you along the way and let you know that you are not alone!
Keep yourself busy. This is key! When Branden started medical school, I was already working a full time job but still found that I had way too much time to myself. He had to spend most nights and weekends studying which left me twiddling my thumbs and watching TV. This feeling of being alone all the time led to feelings of resentment towards him, even though it wasn’t his fault! And this caused him to feel guilty and even more stressed than he already was, so something had to change! I knew I needed to find something that would not only keep me busy, but also bring me happiness and joy! This is how my photography business got started! Photography was already a hobby of mine, so I decided to take it one step further and turn it into a business! I never imagined it would snowball into where it is today, but I am SO glad it did! After starting my business, I noticed a huge change in our relationship! Taking some of the pressure and guilt off of him allowed him to focus more on school without feeling like he was neglecting me. I became more independent and happy, which made him happy in return! Win win!
Learn to be present. Now this is a piece of advice geared more towards the one in the demanding job. It’s one thing to have a super busy schedule that doesn’t allow for much time with your spouse, but then when you do have some time to spare, it’s really hard to be truly present! If your job or schooling is stressful and demanding, it’s really hard to just turn it off at the end of the day! This topic led to quite a few arguments for us when we would sit down to finally have that little bit of alone time together and I could just tell that his mind was in another place. As hard as it is, it is so important to learn how to turn off work/school and truly be present with your spouse. It’s important to make them feel like they are still your number one priority and deserving of your full attention. And on the flip side, it is also important for the spouse that doesn’t work the demanding job to be patient and gracious. Your spouse is making a huge sacrifice for you and your future by working this job. So while that doesn’t give them a pass to neglect your marriage, it does grant them some leniency and understanding. So be gentle and gracious when encouraging them to be present with you!
Schedule time together. When one spouse has a crazy demanding schedule, you don’t have the luxury of being spontaneous or planning date nights last minute. Those nights off may be few and far between, so it’s important to plan ahead so that you can take advantage of them! Every few months, I would put Branden’s schedule into my calendar, including any tests he had. That way I could plan weeks ahead when we would be able to have time together. So if I saw that he had a test on a Friday and no tests the following week, I would mark off that weekend for us since I knew he would be able to take a break from studying. But if he had test on a Monday, I would fill the weekend before that with sessions and weddings since I knew he would be studying all weekend. So I was basically scheduling appointments to spend quality time with him! This allowed us to take full advantage of the little time off we had together!
Show your gratitude. Like I said earlier, your spouse is making a huge sacrifice for you and your future together by working this demanding job. While this may feel like a huge burden on your life, it’s so important to let your spouse know how proud and grateful you are for what they are doing. That support and gratitude will do wonders in helping them to push through the stress and struggles there are facing. This will also help you to feel more like a team through the process, cheering each other on, instead of just two people in a miserable situation.
So I hope this is helpful to anyone that may be in a similar situation! But these tips are vital to any marriage, not just those with more extreme circumstances. Everyone’s life contains a good amount of stress no matter what profession or situation you are in! Marriage is hard work, people! It takes hard work and intentional actions to keep your marriage strong and healthy, but it is SO worth it! I encourage you to always keep your marriage the top priority in your life and never let it take a back seat!
As for us, we are enjoying a relatively stress-free period of the medical school process right now! Branden is now in his 4th and final year of school and just submitted his residency application this week! So that means he is done with all the big tests and work that has to be done and will just be doing monthly elective rotations until graduation in May! The only big thing left to do is interviews for residency programs, which will take place over the next few months. Other than that, he’ll just be “coasting to MD”, as he put it! So we are trying to soak up all the quality time we can over these next several months! Because once he starts residency next July, I will basically be single for the next 4 years! Oy! Maybe in a year or so, I’ll have to do another post about being a resident’s wife! Wish us luck!