Mary is a stay-at-home mom with three boys (ages 10, 8, and 7), and wife to her soul mate, who is an orthopedic surgeon. They reside in Pittsburgh, PA while he finishes a fellowship in hand surgery and then will be moving home to Georgia to start a private practice. She is a runner and avid a reader. I am grateful Mary was willing to open up on a really personal matter. Her story is exactly why I started The White Coat Wife and continue to bring on guest bloggers. Thank you Mary for sharing your story!
Two weeks. That’s all
Two weeks into my husband’s orthopaedic residency I walked
out to the back deck to take stock of the dog food. There I was met with a
scene that set me on a new course.
Maggots. Thousands of them. Maybe millions. (Let’s be
honest, it was probably only thousands, but if you’re counting maggots, it
might as well be millions). They were
voraciously consuming 39 lbs. of Purina One, and as I stood staring into the
can, evaluating the shocking mess, I only had one thought. This is
me. This is all me. Had we still been in school I would have
waited it out, until my husband came home.
But I wasn’t sure he was actually coming home. Nope, this
And for the next two years I adopted this as my mantra: You got this.
We had three small boys at the time, between the ages of 15
months and 4 and a half, and so most of my work centered on them. It was a one-man show. I cooked and cleaned,
changed, made, washed, arranged, ran, cuddled, read, measured, folded,
refolded, and folded again. So I started my days early and worked until I
couldn’t anymore. Missing dads make for
a lot of work.
I had seen other women – wives and mothers – guide their
families through residency, appearing on the other side to be whole. I assumed I could too. And I assumed that if
I worked hard enough, if the t’s were crossed and the i’s were dotted, we would
all make it. But nobody told me that
this life – the one where you lose the man you married to a system you don’t
understand, and you raise boys alone, and go to bed alone, and go to church,
weddings and funerals alone – might be more than I could manage. Nobody told me that medical training would
stretch the limits of my mental, emotional and spiritual health to their breaking
Somewhere between the Day of the Maggots and PGY3, the
curtains began to close. Subtle at
first, the signs were easily dismissible.
More tears, more yelling, less energy.
A tight chest. And GI problems
that sent me to the doctor. And then all
of the lights simply went out. The show
was over. Everything was dark. It felt like a 300 lbs. man sitting on my
My family was several hours away, but their support was
immeasurable. They couldn’t fold the
laundry or pull the 300 lbs. man off of me, but they could encourage and
pray. And so they did. And while there is no replacement for a
husband lost in the vortex of medical training, they helped lift my head above
water long enough for me to see that I needed help.
I think the truth is that many of us find ourselves still
“performing” long after the curtains have closed. We keep acting
like the show goes on, but its time for an intermission. Of course, the kind of help that we each need
varies. Help folding the laundry and
mopping floors can go a long way. But
sometimes we need more than that. For me it came in the form of an
anti-depressant. For those with space in
their schedule, the listening ear of a counselor can help, or perhaps the
community of like-minded and encouraging friends, or a local church.
No matter the device, the first step is to tell someone. A little bit of fear goes a long way in
keeping us trapped in our own struggles.
But a little bit of light shed on a dark subject like depression and
anxiety goes a long way in freeing us. Depression
and anxiety are amuck in the news. Movie
stars are coming out of the wood works to talk about it. We all have friends that have struggled with
it. We even warn one another about the
dangers our husbands face. But it’s
usually someone else. And when the world claps you on the back and
asks you how residency is going then retreats with, “You got this,” there’s not
much room to explain that I don’t got
Because it doesn’t matter how hard you work to make life
work. Sometimes, you just don’t got it.
So, after nearly 12 years of following my husband around the country, supporting him psychologically, emotionally and spiritually, raising three boys, and eventually falling prostrate in exhaustion, my advice to those of you who find yourself in the dark: find someone you trust and tell them. Let someone help you get the lights back on.
After endless hours of house searching, we finally were under contract! I wrote a little bit about all our previous moves and why as a first-year medical student my husband and I decided to purchase rather than rent a home on my very first blog post A Happy Life of Endless Transitions. Its been two years into home ownership, we are almost done with our renovations, restorations, and remodeling. Let’s be real, we will never be done, but we are certainly at a place where it feels like our home and I’m not constantly walking around noticing all the quirks that need fixing. From a financial standpoint, we would have not been able to afford half of what has been restored or renovated had we not been hit by a microburst six months after moving into our home. There are perks to having hail the size of a baseball hit your home. Here’s to a light-hearted post of the journey of renovating our first home.
Our cute, cream, cape cod house on the corner was pretty well maintained for a 20-year-old home. But there was just one little glitch with the inside…
A custom build BAR!… with track lighting! This might not have been so bad in a man cave or bonus room, but our house is around 1500 sq. ft. A bar isn’t exactly what a young couple about to have a baby wants in their only dining area. Trying to save us a little $, I listed the bar on Craigslist and got a few hits only to find out as we were trying to move it that it was screwed together with over 100 screws all the way to the floor. So rather than making a few dollars, we realized we were going to need to replace the entire first-floor lament. New flooring was entirely fine for Tom because the laminate was buckling in some places and went horizontal in some rooms and vertical in others. A dizzy spell came on if you looked down.
My handsome husband tirelessly worked all of his first-year winter break and then most of the neuroanatomy block putting in beautiful floating laminate floors that flowed through our first floor, including the once dog scented carpeted master bedroom. *If you are every purchasing a home with a strong animal scent removing the padding, then using Kilz on the plywood maybe your only hope of removing the odor. I bathed our carpet in baking soda which did help a TON but didn’t ever fully remove the odor.
Tom raised the home office to make it level with the living room and took out all the transitions that once broke up each room. There were a few glitches to the settling of a 20-year-old house where we had to call in assistance, but the majority was my man’s labor of love. Though I am pretty sure he will NEVER put in floors again…he prefers interventional work. And yes, he did still ace neuroanatomy!
Taking out the bar wasn’t the only renovation needed in the kitchen. There is nothing more that says bachelor pad than dark blue textured walls combined with evergreen Formica counters. Tom and I both tirelessly hand sanded the textured walls. In hindsight, leaving the textured walls or buying a sander would have made for a more efficient process.
My favorite change we made was putting in a herringbone subway tile backsplash. With white walls and a grey leathered granite countertop, our kitchen looked gloomy like a cloudy day before the backsplash went up. The herringbone provides just the right amount of texture and sheen to brighten the kitchen.
We worked with a local granite company and were able to pick up remnant pieces to fit our two bathrooms. For more counter space we went with underlay ceramic sinks and updated the faucets. The new stainless steel kitchen sink required restructuring of piping to get the garbage disposal attached and from that experience, we learned that we could not afford a plumber for anything else…$175/30 minutes :0. The cost also made us rethink pursuing a career in medicine. Tom was able to install the new faucets fairly easily and didn’t need to hire a plumber for the other sinks. Whew!
In buying a house and renovating sometimes you have to take a step back from the ideal Pintrest worthy design and think about what is practical for the price point of your home. In our case, we bought for location, location, location. 1.5 miles from Chick-fil-A and 2 miles from Aldi….j/k. While the market is trending in our fast-growing area we will make money on the home or turn it into a profitable rental after the medical school years. However, our price point isn’t one which a tile shower, as attractive as that is on Pintrest, is a smart financial investment. A tile shower alone is in the upper 8k range. Thankfully we were able to later have the main/Master bathroom floor tiled. My parents also had recently built a house so we were able to use their leftover tile for the laundry room which saved us several hundred dollars. This was only possible because I opted to sand and stain our huge deck to save some insurance $ and use it toward having these rooms tiled professionally. I think many people could tile their own floor but professional leveling was needed between the bathroom and hallway transition. We knew this was beyond several Youtube tutorials and hired a professional tiler. The last step for the bathroom will be new light fixtures and double mirrors, but we have had too many unexpected expenses with cars. This is one to look forward to in the distant future, like when our son grows up to be an electrician…also a lucrative career to consider.
When we bought the house we had agreed to paint, put in tile and engineered floors, and update to granite countertops including a backsplash with a bit of saving we had from working prior to medical school. The rest would be updated as needed when we got extra money or replaced something broke. BUT…When the microburst hit it caused 35k of damage to the exterior and interior of our home and a year-long process of restoration began.
Water came through the 2nd-floor bedroom window. Not enough to cause too much damage, but just enough to thankfully soak carpet that had a pretty serious pet odor and was torn in some areas. This caused damage to part of the first-floor ceiling. Insurance provided the funds to repair and repaint the living room and kitchen ceiling. We had popcorn ceilings but I got thrify and found an excellent painting company that removed all the popcorn, repaired, and repainted the space within the allotment from the insurance company. We did pay a little extra to have the main bathroom done as well so that all the main hosting areas now had freshly painted flat ceilings. Taking out popcorn ceilings makes the 8ft ceilings appear higher because shadows from popcorn ceilings give the illusion of a smaller space. An added bonus to removing the popcorn was updating the light fixtures without leaving a mark.
Carpet color was probably the hardest to pick. There are so many colors and brands but getting a clear picture of what it will look like covering two entire rooms is difficult. The color I ended up with as it has a more golden tint then I was hoping. However, we stayed in the budget by removing the carpet ourselves. Rather than replacing only the carpet in only one room, we were able to cover the two upstairs bedrooms, hallway, carpet runner, and our downstairs master closet! Staying in the budget and getting more is a complete win in my book, especially when considering resell appraisal doesn’t account for the type of carpeting you use.
Before the new carpet, our stairs were half carpeted and my mamma’s heart needed the relief of padding on the stairs. Wanting to keep part of the painted wood showing so I settled on a carpet runner. Paying someone to prep the upper stairs for a runner was out of the budget. Since I just had a baby, my dad and husband came to the rescue and helped tare out the carpet. I then sanded, repainted, and caulked during my daughter’s nap-times and the new carpet runner was installed on the stairs.
Another quirky area was a former ventless fireplace nook in our living room. Having a fireplace would be lovely but with young children, we didn’t want to worry, nor have to get a propane tank. When our daughter started accumulating toys, I realized it was time to put that space to good use and install some shelves. It was so fun to work with a local fireman who’s hobby was custom woodwork with old barn wood. He took an idea for a design and made it happen. GIFTED! They fit perfectly and the baskets offer a “hiding” place for most of the kid toys. The basket system has also provided a simple way to rotate toys and cleaning up is super easy for even an 18-month-old. Trying to install good habits now so that I’m not dealing with tantrums of a three-year-old.
The vinyl exterior of the house was destroyed by the microburst. Our lot is on the corner and we don’t have many large trees, so we were hit pretty hard. Though we already had a fairly new roof after the storm we had to get another and all new gutters. All the windows on the front of the house were cracked or busted around the edges. The vinyl siding was completely destroyed on the right side and front of the house. We were so thankful to work with an amazing contractor and window/siding company that installed the windows just a couple months after the storm. Wanting to stick with the traditional style of a cape cod but also wanting more natural light to come through, I opted for no pains on the bottoms of the windows. I’m pleased with how the windows turned out and feel like it the style brings more warmth to the exterior of our home.
When it came to replacing the shutters, I got a little caught up on Pintrest and decided to build my own for a 1/3 the cost of replacing the vinyl shutters. And the vinyl ones were salvageable, so I sold them on the Marketplace. My dad and husband yet again came to do all the sawing, heavy lifting and screwing, but we absolutely love how they turned out. And my dad and Tom even barred with my absent mindedness when I made four shutters…we needed SIX…opps. So we went back for round two of cutting, staining, and assembling.
My most recent project came just a few days ago. We have a lovely office addition which was the main reason we bought this home. The office would allow us to have space for Tom to study and a guest room. Now that Tom spends most of his time in the hospital on rotation, for Christmas, I asked him if I could take over the downstairs office space for my business and he could study upstairs. I have been wanting to paint the beadboard walls white ever since we moved in, but it wasn’t a necessary remodel. Now that I am caring for two babies all day and working from home, I needed to brighten the space for a mood lifter. It’s so refreshing to start the 2019 New Year with a remodeled office for less than $25!
What are your favorite ways to repurpose a space or redecorate on a medical student budget? Comment below with your wishlist or projects you are working on in 2019.
The calendar is booked for the next six months with guest bloggers for The White Coat Wife. We have a wide variety of medical wife life experiences, so I thought we would start off with Sarah, who got married to her husband Joe between the first and second year of medical school. She was planning their wedding, while he dug deep into Anatomy. Sarah Stallings is a wife of 3rd-year medical student and mama to their baby due in summer ’19. Her week is filled with work, field practicum, studying for her clinical MSW, and one cup of caffeine a day. She enjoys chocolate, long walks on the beach, and 80’s movies.
“That season of life revealed that grace is in the messy.”
We got engaged and he went off to medical school. Very romantic, I know. My behind can attest to the strain of the long distance as I traveled the long commute to visit him almost every other weekend. Looking back on engagement and the first year of medical school, we learned a lot one step at a time. We mapped out strategic visiting plans and had lots of phone calls. That season of life revealed that grace is in the messy. These moments built on previous experiences and serve us so well as we continue through medical training. I’d love to take a moment to sit down and share what we learned. I hope this sharing will bring laughter, encouragement that you are not alone, and to know that it works out in the end-somehow, someway!
The first take-away for me was to embrace the rhythm of the season. It’s easy in medical school to peek over the fence and admire the “easier 9-5 life” we assume others have. In reality, every life is different due to free will and God’s individual call in our lives. Embracing the moment as a gift and choosing to respond in a creative and accepting way eases the comparison game. There is good right here. Yes, maybe it would be easier to plan a wedding in person; but that’s not the life given here. So I’ll take the 5 mins of a study break call to ask and check-off, “How much do you like the color blue? Who do you want to be in our wedding party? Where do you want to go on a honeymoon?”
I had no idea what medical school was like or how we’d prepare for marriage. But, life moments build upon each other! I had helped with medical school applications, night classes to get pre-reqs (for which I still ask—why Physics??), and supported MCAT study sessions. Discerning marriage taught both of us the attitude that marriage is a journey you go on together. In the same way, that attitude carried over to medical school training. I thought I understood then how to be together, how to support, how to be on the same team. However, that “togetherness” rhythm must be renewed and lived out in every season.
For us, preparing for the unity in our marriage meant supporting each other in our callings to serve and provide. Which for my fiancée was medical school and for me unfolded into applying for master programs in clinical social work. I would never have imagined in the middle of wedding planning to begin graduate school for myself, but that’s the beauty of doing life together. It challenges us to grow in ways we never expected. Ultimately, we realized it’s much easier to expect the challenges of medical school (or hey life in generally!) when it’s something faced together rather than in isolation. When he graduates and when I graduate, this couple is going to celebrate because we ran this race together!
It can start to feel as if medicine is the boss and is calling the shots on all areas of your life. It’s so key to remember to respond rather than react.
The second takeaway was scheduling. All you type-A friends clap with me and hear me out non-planners, this is good for all of us. A schedule brings harmony between us because decisions need to be made but also relaxation needs to be had. Medical school’s first two years of course-work are demanding with tests every other week and the student asking, “can he try taking your blood pressure just one more time?” It can start to feel as if medicine is the boss and is calling the shots on all areas of your life. It’s so key to remember to respond rather than react. Medical school, like all things, is what you make of it so Carpe the Diem, Seize the Day! Setting aside specific time with time limits allowed us to get the essentials done that need to be done (people need to eat something at the wedding!) and go do something fun; like hiking!
Through this season though the biggest grace was prayer. The
value of prayer together and prayer apart cannot be underestimated. This
journey, medical school and more importantly marriage, cannot be accomplished
without the One who strengthens us. As Romans 16:25 states turn “now to him who
can strengthen you.” Furthermore, prayer shapes our minds and hearts to know
how to be in rhythm with God’s heart and with our neighbor’s. Somehow, we prayed
together nightly on the phone; asking for the other person’s intentions and
sharing our struggles. This enabled us to be in tune with each other and
encourage one another. So often the act
of praying together would encourage us and reset our hearts to gratitude for
what was given. It provided the space for us to truly hear and share in the
other’s person’s joys and struggles. As Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 reads
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:If
either of them falls down, one can
help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together,
they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not
Finally, to use the popular slogan going around now, do what
sparks joy. I got mono as my medical
student was studying the spleen so I blame karma and choose to embrace the
season through TV. Hey, it brought me joy. The first year of medical school and
its process of training was and still is overwhelming to me with foreign terms
and lingo. It felt akin to learning a new language. Once, I started watching
“House”, then I too could say things such as “lumbar punctures, lab cultures,
and CT scan” in somewhat accurate ways. Just last night, I watched an episode
of “Call the Midwife” where a c-section was preformed, while the medical
student practiced his sutures. Win-win for all.
Two weeks of away rotations completed and two weeks to go! On July 31st, my husband, Thomas, started his third year of medical school and the first month of clinical rotations. For those who are unfamiliar with the training schedule of medical school. This is the year we pay $$$$$ for him to work over 60 hours a week at the hospital, while he still balances studying for boards, more exams, family, and attempts to sleep, eat, and exercise.
For many student doctors, clinical rotations are connected to the University hospital they are attending, but we are at a private university in a rural area and there are not enough local options for the 160 students per class to stay local. Fortunately, my husband was placed at a rotation site that has four hospitals connected to each other and most sites will be within an hour commute. However, for his first rotation, he started in general surgery at a hospital 1.5 hours away with a start time of 6 am (end time TBD daily, but usually after 6 pm). Way to be thrown in the deep end right? Commuting from our home wasn’t a safe option.
But let me just brag a minute on my God and then my man. We are expecting our 2nd baby (our daughter is only 15 months old…so yes, TWO BABIES under two) September 22nd. When we were talking about expanding our family again, I knew this would be the year I would mostly be at home raising our kids alone. We hoped for kids close enough in age that they would be besties. Plus the medical school route we are on is realistically a 12-year journey, so there really isn’t a right time for baby number 2, 3, or even 4. And throw in the fact that I’m thirty-three (he is a bit younger). When I found out the due date for our son, I also had to come to terms with the fact that my husband would most likely not be present at the birth. Several weeks later my husband was asked to switch with another student who had military responsibilities so that Thomas’ vacation month would land in September AND then my due date was moved up a week to Sept. 22nd. What a huge answer to prayer! Not only will my husband be able to be at the birth but he will not have hospital responsibilities the two weeks before and two weeks after our son’s due date. Oh and don’t let me forget to mention that he has a free apartment to stay at during this general surgery away rotation. Two of his classmates are assigned vacation month this month and went home to visit family, so they offered for him to stay at their apartment.
Now to brag on my man. He is balancing an 80 hour+ week between board studies and general surgery rotations. He drives back home on Friday’s to stay the weekend and spend quality family time, while still balancing board study, and any weekend activities we have planned. Like throwing a 20 person party at our house for the medical wives ministry Side by Side last weekend. Every night despite long hours, long-standing surgeries, and then having to prepare for the following day’s surgeries, he makes time to FaceTime us with undivided attention. So attractive! When he was studying M1-M2, it was harder for me to appreciate his work ethic. I’m task oriented and place value on $ making work. It was easy to downplay his long hours studying because it was sedentary and not income producing, but that hard work and dedication is what has prepared him for the skills needed to jump straight from books to assisting in operations on very sick people.
We both feel our marriage has been strengthened by the time apart these past two weeks. After three years of marriage and one toddler, it’s so easy to be in each others presence but not present. For the first two years of medical school, he studied from home. Although he was physically at home the majority of the time, he was focused and in one of our office spaces studying while I was going about my day with our baby girl. With FaceTime, we are actually gazing into each other’s eyes again for more than 5 minutes undistracted. It reminds us of the period of time before we were officially dating when I lived in Thailand and he would Skype me once a week from the U.S. Our attention is focused on one another, we are listening intently about each others day, celebrating our daily highs, and verbalizing our attraction to one another again! I’d call that a win for our society where everyone is looking down at their phone and not making eye contact with those around them. Of course, I wouldn’t want this FaceTime communication to last forever and I hope it will help me build a habit of intently listening as I gaze into my man’s eyes on a daily basis when we are back living under the same roof.
At some point in your medical career journey, there will be a time when living apart from your spouse may be necessary. Maybe it is during audition rotations or during a 7-on-7-off schedule or during fellowship where you have to live apart. Whenever it happens, even if it is during your 8th month of pregnancy while your toddler wants to climb everything and you are having to learn to food prep so your husband doesn’t eat Bojangles every night for dinner, keep your eyes fixed on what is ahead. I’m not just referring to the paycheck at the end of the month or the exotic vacation (like for real… for the majority of us student loan debt will be taking our vacay $ for a while anyway). Fix your eyes on the fact that your husband’s work will change lives and your work as a spouse will change his and the people around you. Your attitude and your response can make a positive difference or a negative one, its for you to choose from. Pity parties over being a “single” parent or resentment toward your spouse for not “pulling his weight” during this exhaustive season, will not make the challenges more comfortable.
I was reminded tonight of the verse in Hebrews 11: 13-15 that many people living in the not so urgent generation had the perseverance to face the unknown with faith. They wavered at times, yes. They lost sight of the end, yes, but in their old age, they still remained faithful.
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one.” Hebrew 11:13-15
On July 12, 2015, I married my best friend after having really only known him for eighteen months. Insert surprise emoji face! You would think making one of the biggest decision of your life, one you literally have to live with daily would require a little more preparation. It still amazes me how God brought us together from opposite sides of the earth, literally, and we have actually enjoyed every day-in and day-out with each other. If you haven’t read it yet you can read our dating story here.
At a time when people are getting married after years of living together and long engagements our story is by far not the norm for millennials and these reflections will be quite “odd” and maybe “old school” to several of you reading this. As always I hope that our story inspires you or at least brings you a laugh or two.
Not safe but good…
One of my favorite books growing up was The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis.
Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion. “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Although the Lion in this novel is symbolic for Christ, I find this to be true of marriage as well. So many millennials are afraid of marriage, because its results are not something we can control. We cannot control the outcome because the outcome involves not just our commitment to our spouse but our spouse’s commitment to us. For some people their past relationship experiences may even create a self doubt that they can live up to the commitment required in marriage. In our years of marriage, I’ve had days where I have been hurt or frustrated enough to want an “out” and have even verbalized it. Not recommended by the way. Though our future careers, children, standard of living, relationships with in-laws, hometown, hobbies, and health were not guaranteed or known and still are not, I believed God has ordained marriage and it was “very good”.
And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Genesis 2:22-24
Even up until the very moment I was about to walk down the aisle, my dad was very clear that I still had the option to not go forward in marrying Tom. Don’t take this the wrong way. My dad respected Tom and gave him permission to marry me months before, but he also is a father who has always empowered me to do what I felt was best. He, married once before my mother, probably wanted me to realize the weight of the decision. And in the moment I did feel pressure (some from the weight of all $$$ he spent on the wedding if I did back out) but that the covenant I was about to make was not just between Tom and myself, but one with God Himself. It was almost paralyzing so much so that I have never shared this part of our story with anyone except Tom. Yes, I was able to have peace (and a little naiveté) to look back at my dad and smile with a yes on walking down the aisle. I knew that it ultimately wasn’t about whether I felt confident or prepared for marriage. It was about an order created well before my life-time and a covenant that would be held not just between two young, imperfect people, but one held by a good and perfect God who had captured our single hearts and brought us together as he had done for Adam many, many years before. If God saw it fitting to bring us together then we ought to see to keeping the covenant, even on the days when it is “worse”.
Benefit of the Doubt…
-a concession that a person or fact must be regarded as correct or justified, if the contrary has not been proven- Google dictionary
I’m pretty sure all marriage conflicts would never even arise if this was lived out by both individuals on a consistent basis. Coming from being the oldest of two girls, I’m still learning the male mind. I’m often envious of girls who have brothers, because I feel like they have an early advantage of learning how the male mind was created and functions. I am so thankful that Evelyn Paige will have Warren to grow up with and learn from. (Plug: to all boy mom’s for advice of raising a boy) Tom was the middle of two brothers. Sometimes in marriage we just “miss each other” in communication and in physical affection signals purely from a male/female mindset difference. Personality and learned communication patterns play into this some, but we have both felt “disrespected” or “undervalued” by the other without that being the intention. It’s so easy for me to want to react either in defense of my true intention if I have said something that has disrespected him or if I feel undervalued then I want to him to know it and change his statement.
I’m a fighter. It is not good you all. If I was super political I might say the feminist movement might have influenced this or maybe it’s just me wanting to be right…either way it never pushes me to understanding my spouse better and it creates more conflict than there was from the misunderstanding. So I encourage you to learn from my big fat flaw and learn to not jump to conclusions about the words or actions of your spouse, but to give him/her the benefit of the doubt and ask for clarity without defensiveness. Tom has taught me that asking is ok. Seeking understanding is a gift that he has and has made him a humble learner. #beliketom #submityourwin #diffuseconflict
Sometimes your position on the team changes…
Though this scenario may be true of many marriages, it’s especially true of a medical marriage. I’ve seen so many posts on social media and heard from so many women/men in medical marriages that they feel like their career goals or dreams are put on hold while their spouse is pursing his/hers. I get it. After spending thousands of dollars, almost a decade, and lots of energy into building a resume, networking, and practicing, you feel ready and a little entitled to continue growing those skills. I taught at and then ran a homeschool cooperative overseas for seven years before I got married. I had years of ministry experience, learned a foreign language, fixed my own leaky sinks, took masters degrees classes, and new my ideal “Right Path” career choices. I am currently a stay at home mom of a 14 month old, due with our second child in two months, and building a small business, but mostly I’m a mom that changes diapers and prepares meals for my husband. And I love it! Ok maybe not the diapers when its comparable to wrangling a small calf or going grocery shopping for a paleo diet on a budget, but most days I am very content with where the Lord has us.
Our position on the team may not be “starter” position or even the best fit position for our personality. I know we are on a budget, but I am just not a coupon-er. Tom’s not a yard guy, but until we have enough $ to pay a lawn service, he has to help mow 3/4 an acre while completing medical school rotation and commuting.
It is a choice to be content with not using my education degree daily or being a part of the big project of the new international school being planted that I dreamed about and worked toward for years. Contentment isn’t giving up on dreams or settling. Just because something doesn’t come naturally, doesn’t give us the excuse not to do it or learn from it. And sometimes we may learn but still not be excellent. There is a belief out there that we have to be the star player in every position or we need to get out of the position or switch teams…and quickly. Consider that maybe we are in a position to support and not to excel or at the very least (most) be humbled and molded into a more empathetic and loving human.
I choose to find the moments we are IN satisfying and energizing to my soul because THIS season is the one we are in at the moment and it too quickly will change. There will be other seasons where my husband is working even longer shifts or my babies are grown or we can take an exotic vacation or my business requires more training or we are caring for aging parents. My position will change. His will too. We have a choice to play our position on the team well enough that it benefits the team or to play it for my own ambitions and hinder our team from thriving. Personally I want our team to WIN. I care more about supporting my husband in pursing his career calling, because frankly it is lot better growing together through the teamwork with my best friend then going at an individual dream alone. In the end I’m not sure it will matter if I was a good cook or built a profitable fortune 500 or if he was a successful surgeon and brought home the bacon, but it will matter if we were faithful with what we had been given and loved others well.