Love and Medicine – How to Make It Work

Every professional school student at some point in his / her academic career has considered the possibility of being in a  “Doctor – Doctor relationship/ marriage” (like recently feature alum Abdelle Ferdinand Cheres).   Like everything else, there are pros and cons and over the years, several different groups have done research and written articles  and books on this very topic.

Pros

– If you happen to attend the same  medical / dental school, you get to see each other all the time

– Someone who understands your crazy schedule

– Someone with similar ambition and committment to education

– Substantial combined salary

– Someone who understands the lingo when you come home and talk about work

Cons

–  If you happen to attend the same  medical / dental school, you get to see each other ALL the time

– Someone with a schedule as crazy and unpredictable as yours, and the two rarely coincide.

– Someone as type A as you are

– Substantial combined debt

– Talking with your spouse about how their day went, makes you feels like you’re still at work.

Regardless of which side of the fence you fall in with regards to a doctor-doctor marriage, the bottomline is, this marriage like any other, takes work to stay happy and healthy. There are articles and research about the pros and cons, but not so much about how to keep those marriages healthy.  The list below was taken from “Doctor-doctor marriages: What makes them work?” Medical Economics 1999;24:54  .

How to keep a two-doctor marriage healthy and happy

Donald E. Rosen of Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland offers these pointers on how to avoid and handle conflict in medical marriages:

  • Define and clarify problems. Know what you want to change. Remember, some people have a heavy investment in suffering.
  • Accept that no solution will be perfect. It’s impossible to balance work and family life in a way that pleases everyone all the time, so be prepared to lower your expectations.
  • Make time to talk, even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day. Couples who talk more need marital therapy less. Some people need to learn, or relearn, how to talk. Don’t rely on mind reading. Carve out time for the two of you, away from the kids, to pursue a common interest, and don’t feel guilty taking time for yourselves.
  • In a traditional marriage, it’s important for the woman to establish her own identity. In a two-profession marriage, the partners should have a clear and explicit discussion and negotiate shared responsibilities for home and children.
  • Make time for a sexual relationship. If there’s no time for sex, it’s symptomatic of more basic problems. Avoiding sex must be discussed before it becomes chronic.

Articles about the “Doctor – doctor marriage”

1. Doctor-doctor marriages: What makes them work? Medical Economics 1999;24:54

2. When Doctors marry doctors. Annals of Internal Medicine. February 16, 1999. vol. 130 no. 4 Part 1 312-313 

3. Doctor Marries Doctor: Good Medicine.

Books dedicated to the “doctor-doctor relationship”

1. Doctors Marriages: a look at the problems and their solutions

2.  The Medical Marriage: A Couple’s Survival Guide

3. The Medical Marriage:  Sustaining Healthy Relationships for Physicians and Their Families

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