MARRIAGE & MEDICINE
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do yourselves and what you are willing to pay others to do.
JLR: Guys, the early years are foundational. It is a time
when the rules of war and peace are defined, a time to learn
the tactics that can be used with some success and those that lead to
sleeping on the couch. I agree with Jan, physicians make a decent living
and can afford to pay people for services you don’t have time to do
or don’t enjoy doing. When you find yourself cutting your lawn with
a headlamp on, it is time to find a lawn service. House cleaning: If
you can afford it, pay someone to clean the house. Housekeepers are
cheaper than marriage counselors.
WHEN SHOULD PHYSICIAN-PHYSICIAN COUPLES BEGIN
The authors deferred having children until their fellowships.
JLS: If you have an option for a quiet year professionally,
that is great. If not, go for it. Just be sure you are both ready
for parenthood. Or, as ready as one can be.
JLR: Guys, we all know the answer to this one: when she
DO KIDS CHANGE YOUR LIFE?
JLR: If you have to ask you are not ready! Once the kids start
coming, my advice to my fellow male physicians: learn to cook. You
need to eat and there are nights when she will not be home. When
she is home, it saves you from having to change as many diapers. But
keep in mind you can’t have Hamburger Helper every night.
JLS: If you both are planning to continue to practice full time,
you will most likely need help with childcare. We found that
using an au pair service had many advantages. Over the years we
had college-aged “nannies” from Sweden, Australia, Germany and the
Czech Republic. It was a great cultural experience for our kids growing
up. And, the individuals remain close friends of the family to this day.
ARE THERE SPECIALTIES MORE CONDUCIVE TO A SUCCESS-
FUL PHYSICIAN-PHYSICIAN MARRIAGE?
JLS: There are probably specialties more conducive than
cardiology and neonatology, given the rigors and frequency
of night call. Bottom line, you need to love your job and your
spouse to make it work.
JLR: No matter what specialty you are in it is also important
to have supportive colleagues who are willing to trade calls
with you as you try to coordinate schedules at home.
DO PHYSICIAN COUPLES EXPERIENCE BURNOUT?
JLS: Probably, you can burnout if you don’t grow in your
profession, if you don’t support one another, if you feel you
are not able to devote the time to your family you desire. Clearly,
physicians are not immune to burnout in their interpersonal rela-
tionships. You must continue to support one another and make time
for spouse and family.
WHAT ARE THINGS TO CONSIDER LATE IN YOUR CAREER?
JLR AND JLS: Replacement parts. When your part-
ner’s parts start to fail, it is time to get new replacement
parts, not a new partner. Thanks to the advances in orthopedics there
are many new replacement parts available.
RETIREMENT: THE CAREERS ARE ABOUT OVER, NOW WHAT?
The authors confess they are still trying to figure this part out.
JLS: Make sure you have an interest to pursue that you enjoy
and that your spouse can put up with, and hopefully share
in. Plan to travel. Have some goals.
JLR: Make sure you retire to something, not from something.
JLR: Regarding the au pair, guys, this is a misnomer. They
do not come in pairs.
WHEN SHOULD PHYSICIAN-PHYSICIAN COUPLES STOP HAV-
JLR: Five is a good number!
JLS: I am afraid I don’t have much perspective on this. Babies
are wonderful! But don’t let the kids keep you from traveling
and enjoying life. Make them an integral part of your travels
and share the joys of parenthood.
JLR: Five is a good number!
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Janet L. Smith, MD, graduated from Angela Merici High School**
(now Holy Cross), John L. Roberts, MD, graduated from Bishop
David High School** (also now Holy Cross). They both graduated
in 1972 from Bellarmine College** (now Bellarmine University) and
from the UofL School of Medicine in 1976. Dr. Smith graduated
Summa Cum Laude and was the Valedictorian.
*The book has yet to be written but if enough people are willing to
pay the asking price of $100, the authors, who have put five kids
through private schools and colleges, promise to write it. Please
arrange a secret bank transfer to: The Smith-Roberts Retirement
Account #33984, Cayman Bank, Cayman Islands. Or, to save time,