How to Survive Your Husband’s First Year of Medical School: Tips from a med school wife who has already done it and loved it!
I wanted to share some tips for new medical school (or dental, or law, or whatever) student wives (or girlfriends) because honestly, it can be scary and sort of lonely when you move to a new place and don’t know where anything is or anyone there. But you can really make the best of it and turn it into an amazing experience!
1. Get involved. I don’t care if you aren’t social or if you are slightly awkward in social situations or if you aren’t good at making small talk. Just get involved. For me, I met several girls at church who were in exactly the same situation as us (one was even due two weeks before me!), and we got to be really good friends. The Mister’s school has a significant other support group, and I would assume lots of other medical schools have them, too. Facebook is also a good way to connect with people. I just discovered a group for wives of the Mister’s school and another in the area and I’ve already made friends through that (so if you do it during first year, you are bound to make more friends than I have). It’s really helpful to find friends who are also wives of med students because you are all going through exactly the same thing. It is really helpful when you can talk together about how much your husbands have been studying for that crazy big test coming up or about ideas you have to help them feel better when they don’t get a good grade on their first test. This is the most important advice I can give you, so even if you’re like me and you are fine sitting on the couch by yourself, just go make friends. It’s worth it and you never know who you will meet!
2. Have fun taking care of the house.If taking care of a house is not your thing, make it your thing! Before we moved here I was not good at cleaning or cooking or making lunches. But I learned, and I learned how to enjoy it! When things get hard or I feel overwhelmed by the amount of ironing I have to do (that is my least favorite chore), I just remember how much it is helping the Mister. I think of all the other students who don’t have wives and have to do their own laundry and cooking and cleaning and bed making. You are really giving your husbands such a big help and a leg up on the rest of the students because they a)have more time to spend studying and b)have more time to spend with you. Taking care of the house really can be fun! But also, don’t feel like you have to do everything. The boys really can make the bed or do the dishes or take out the trash every once in a while. It’s not all on you!
3. Have a hobby or a job. If you don’t already have a hobby, find one. You can get a library card and read all those books you have wanted to but couldn’t while you were in school yourself, you can take up sewing and start making fun things for you and your home, you can start baking and make treats to take to all your neighbors (who will love you). There are so many talents you can develop, and it really does make you feel good to have something that is yours that you are good at and that you can lose yourself doing. It’s fantastic. And if you have time that you can have a job, that is a great way to stay busy, too. Obviously if you have a baby or a few kids having a job probably isn’t an option, but you can still find a hobby to give yourself something that’s fun for you to do.
4. Have a weekly date night. Don’t let medical school take over your lives. You are still married and you should still act like it. It’s really nice to have a date night once a week where you can forget about all the stress of the week and you can just talk about you two. Be romantic. You don’t always have to go out to dinner or a movie, either. Be creative! Two weeks ago the Mister and I rented Space Jam and watched it in a blanket fort. Honestly, it was one of the best dates of the summer. Just make sure you are spending time together that is quality time. After all, when things get busy you need to make the most of the time you get together.
5. Find things to love about your new city. Every city has something that makes it special and unique. In Iowa, there are a few restaurants that we love that we don’t have where we went to college, and there are of course all the fairs and festivals in the summer. We love having cornfields across from our apartment complex, and we love all the trails that surround our area. Ask your friends and people who live around you (or people who are a year ahead in school) what they love about the city. It will make living somewhere new a lot more fun, and it will give you places to show off to your families when they come visit. The Mister and I love where we live, and a big part of it is because of the special places here and unique things to do.
6. Take him lunch at school. Sack lunches can get boring. I mean you can only eat peanut butter and jelly with chips, an apple, and a granola bar so many times a week before you want to throw up (speaking from the Mister’s experience, don’t worry, I’ve gotten better!). So once a week, take him something delicious that he can’t get on or around campus. And even if your budget doesn’t allow for bringing lunches very often, you can bring a sack lunch and eat it with him! It’s nice for him to see your face in the middle of the day, and it’s nice for you, too. It makes you feel more like you are both still in undergrad rather than he is in big fancy grown-up school and you aren’t.
7. Keep updated on his schedule. Whether this is through one big calendar on your wall, or if you sync his calendar to your phone, find a way that you can know when his tests are, when he has stressful weeks, and when he starts new classes. It helps so you know when he needs some extra support and prayers, and you can know when he is actually stressed about school and not really mad that you forgot to pack a lunch. It also helps to know when he is not responding to your text because he has a three-hour lecture and not because he is ignoring you (or is that just me…). Plus it makes you feel good when that week or test is over and you have some time to relax.
8. Take advantage of video chatting. FaceTime and Skype are especially helpful when you live far away from your family. We moved several states away from both of our families, so having video chats with them has been a great way to stay in touch. Especially since Little J has been born, it gives our parents and siblings a way to see him grow up. And while talking on the phone and texting is still nice, it’s even better to get to see each other through video chats. And your families will appreciate it, too!
9. Pray for him. Even if you aren’t religious, praying for your husband keeps you aware of things he need. I have found that when I pray for the Mister, not only can I see how Heavenly Father answers my prayers, but I also have seen ways that I have been able to bless my husband by being aware of his needs and finding ways to fill those needs. What should you pray for? Pray that he will be able to focus on his studies, pray that he can do well on his tests, pray that he will be able to handle the stress of school, really you can pray for so many things. And honestly, prayer works. So pray for him and find out yourself!
10. Stay positive. Medical school is hard. It can be hard for both of you to adjust. Just stay positive and remember that it’s not going to last forever and that it will get better. I talked to several girls who told me how important this was to them. One friend told me to stay positive and try to be encouraging and support your spouse, even when you feel like you want to pull your hair out. Another friend told me to remember that the whole reason you are there is for your husband to get an education so that he can provide for your family in a job that he will be happy doing. Another friend said to learn to laugh, especially at yourself, and to enjoy where you are. It can be easy to say “one day when,” but enjoy your life. Some day we will look back and remember “the good old days” when things were simpler. You can have fun during medical school, and you can make it through!
I hope these tips were helpful. I know it can be scary at first, but you will make it through. Love each other, enjoy your lives, and take care of each other. Make friends, learn new things, and have fun. I promise it will be worth it!!