Two posts within a week? The blog must really be back! :)
And that's all thanks to Carrie Cheng, here today to chat a little bit about her experience as a residency spouse. She has some great advice and encouraging words within this interview and I'm thrilled to be sharing her story today! Let's get into it...
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you and your partner been together? Where are you in the medical journey?
Hi! My name is Carrie and my husband, "J", who likes to keep a low profile on social media have been married for almost two years. We met at church during the beginning of his 4th year in medical school, and were actually set up by some very clever and mischievous friends! His fourth year in med school was pretty chill, so I was definitely surprised by the stark contrast when residency started! J's residency is four years long and he is currently finishing up his second year. In about a month, he will be officially starting his third year! My husband and I are both huge fans of nature, so we love using his vacation days to go to national parks or somewhere we can just immerse ourselves in beautiful scenery.
What’s been difficult lately?
My husband made the decision for us to live near our family and church, but unfortunately that means he has to commute sometimes over an hour to work. Thankfully, he has a place to stay near his residency program during super hectic months, but that basically means we are apart often. While I am thankful that he was thinking of my well being when he made the decision for us to live near our community, it definitely is a challenge seeing him sporadically throughout the months and also seeing him fight through fatigue.
Another thing that has been a challenge and slightly humorous is meal planning. Sometimes I make too much food and he ends up not coming home. Which leaves me to eat the same thing the entire week by myself. Other times, I will make food for only myself and he surprises me by coming home unexpectedly, so I scramble with ordering take out. Basically the lack of a regular schedule turns me into a headless chicken at times :p
How do you find joy in your circumstances?
It is definitely easier said than remembered, but I am trying to remind myself daily that residency and just this whole doctor-in-training journey is really just a season. Some seasons are indeed longer than others, but nevertheless, all seasons will pass and come to an end. I believe perspective is a very powerful thing. When I view J's residency as a short stroll in light of the life we have before us to live, I am motivated to be diligent and faithful with the time that I have when we are together or apart.
My faith has ultimately played a major role in finding joy in the midst of hard circumstances. As I grow in knowledge and love for my God, I am humbly learning that my joy is not a product of my circumstances. I often cannot control the circumstances around me, but I can control choosing joy for myself. Choosing Joy is rooted in confidence of a God who cares deeply for me.
What’s something you’ve learned about yourself and/or your relationship lately?
I am currently learning how to make our house a "home" and refuge for J when he comes back from work. J's time in the hospital is often filled with stress, high pressure, unpredictably, disrespect, etc.
I have to first confess here that I am not the best at making our home look much different from his work environment. It so easy to just dump everything on him when he walks through the door and turn on the nagging button. I do miss him a lot, but sometimes my impatient tone to get everything done so we can spend time together actually communicates disrespect towards him. I am quite certain, that after a hard day at work, the last thing my husband wants to come home to is an angry nagging wife.
Just like anyone else, my husband needs to be encouraged, respected, and uplifted. These healers of our society often need to be "healed" and encouraged emotionally themselves. I am learning that I have no greater privilege as a wife than to be this kind of support for him and our marriage.
What’s the best advice you could give to someone else in your shoes?
The best advice I was given from a veteran doctor's wife is do not compare. It really is hard, but comparison robs us of our joy and draws us away from enjoying what we presently have in our lives.
I know it's extremely hard not to compare when you see your neighbor’s husband coming home before the sun sets, or when all your friends and their husbands are going out to eat and you have to drive yourself. I understand how easy it is to grumble when you feel like your husband has it harder than other residents in other programs. The reality is, we don’t know what our neighbors are going through, we don’t know how our friends’ marriages are doing, and we don’t actually know how the other residency programs are structured and run.
Try to use this season as a time of exploration. Take on a new hobby or learn a new skill. Maybe even look for ways to connect with wives who are married to husbands with crazy schedules as well. I hope we can use our situation as a platform to be a source of encouragement to others who may be struggling in the same way as well.
Thank you so much, Carrie, for using your platform for good and taking the time to contribute your voice to this community. I so appreciate it!
If you'd like to hear more from Carrie, she has her very own blog and writes frequently about her experience being married to someone in the medical field. Bookmark it and follow along for more encouragement. :)
Love & Respect,