25 May 2012

Yr 1 Perspective of a Med School Wife: Shelli

Q: Give us a little background of your family, your education/work, and where you came from before coming to Lebanon.

A: I'm from the San Francisco Bay Area (Walnut Creek, CA) and my husband is from Mesa, AZ. We met at Brigham Young University in an Italian class. I fell in love with this sweet, gentle, dorky neuroscience major, and married him a year before we both graduated. I took my last final at BYU sitting on a boppy pillow, still too sore from childbirth to handle the hard chair. I literally took the pillow with me to the testing center. You do what you have to do, right?

Q: What are your responsibilities while your husband is at school?

A: We have two little girls, and I stay home with them. We spend our days playing, reading, coloring, taking pictures, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, snuggling, watching movies, and bathing (it's an event, the bathing). Eldon leaves for school around 7:30am and gets home around 8:00pm. Usually he gets a few minutes in the morning to play with the girls, and a few at night before bed. He's our hero, so when he's home he's the center of our world. Oh, the question was about responsibilities. I forgot. :) I do everything except take out the trash. That's his job. :) He always helps me with my jobs whenever he's home ... he's just not home that often. School is his responsibility right now, and I understand that.

Q: What resources did you find in the community that are supportive to you and your family?

A: The library, I suppose. The comminuty pool. And our church, of course.

Q: What did you find was the best way to support your husband while he was studying this first year?

A: The best way to support him was to make sure he ate well and that I was happy when he came home. The last thing he needed after a long day of schoolwork would be to come home to a wife who resents that schoolwork. It's hard work to be a med student, so vocalizing my appreciation for his effort and not complaining about his long hours away from home was helpful for him. I just tried to make sure he only had to worry about school, because I had home all taken care of.

Q:Did school become stressful on your relationship at any time? How did it effect the relationships he has with other family members and friends?

A: There were times I felt like the last thing on his list, which was hard for me. But luckily I could just hug him and tell him I missed him and he'd make an effort to spend more time with me. It felt like having a long-distance relationship even though we lived in the same house. He keeps a blog, so his friends and extended family all read that and feel connected to him. I actually think that's been extremely helpful for him and for them. We all just get less of him these days, and we have to just accept it as a temporary necessity.

Q: What solutions have you found for dealing with the stress or burn out for either you or your SO?

A: Physical and emotional intimacy. We love each other, and that rejuvinates us both to fulfill our separate roles. Love is powerful, and it's the reason we're in this together in the first place.

Q: Do you feel connected with other signicant others of students, and have you found good friends?

A: I could write an entire BOOK about how grateful I am for the other med student wives. I think women need girlfriends, so that has been extraordinarily helpful. We hang out, babysit each other's kids, do playdates, and keep each other sane through the husband withdrawls. I could do this without them, but I wouldn't want to try it. They are the highlight of my days here.

Q: Any advice you would give to new medical student wives?

A: Make good friends. Try not to fight over his time. Find out what he needs from you for him to be successful and DO IT. Just make sure he knows you love and support him. He'll worship you for it. He's going to feel pulled in 50 directions during med school ... there's always going to be something else he could or should be doing for school, and that can make him feel guilty 100% of the time - no matter what he chooses. Try to be sensitive to that. And be tough. Make friends and have fun with them so the responsibility of keeping you company or fulfilling all your needs isn't completely his. Otherwise you'll be lonely and he'll be miserable because he can't help you more, which is a no win situation. But above all, don't forget how much you LOVE him. You chose to do this together, so don't let it tear you apart. Fight for a happy marriage, and don't pity yourself if it's hard ... it will be. :) But it's so, SO worth it.