Louisville Medicine Volume 67, Issue 9 - Page 21

MARRIAGE & MEDICINE Practical Advice and Lessons Learned Dr. Mary Helen Davis Dr. Al Martin 1. Better to be Superwise than Superwoman (You can’t do it all– be willing to ask for help). 2. Having a housekeeper is an essential, not a luxury. 3. You work hard– don’t forget to play hard as well (have friends, hobbies, take time off). 1. Men and women communicate differently. 2. Embrace dual roles, learn to share all responsibilities, and man-up to outside criticism and judgement. 3. Develop and pursue additional common interests outside of medicine (even when you don’t think you have the time or desire). The playwright George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “The problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” While this is an important issue for any couple, it is especially essential with medical couples. Fatigue, stress and burnout are high in physicians across their professional life cycles from medical school, residency, early career to retirement. Clear communication, with personal and professional disclosure, can be a way of alleviating stress. Recogniz- ing when you are prone to permitting your communication skills to deteriorate is also essential, i.e. the bad day, the difficult patient, the sleepless call night, the ongoing demands of family life. One of the first lessons is learning how to be collaborative. The “team concept” is one the medical couple must learn—we got into medical school by being competitive—so learning how to turn the dial down on competition is crucial. Hopefully we learn early on it is better to be happy than right. We must give up keeping score as “I” and change it to “We.” We must practice the art of compromise and collaboration. Compromise comes in many forms, from choice of specialty, timing of fellowships, having children, other family relationships, the location of practices, the sharing of household and childcare responsibilities – the list goes on and on. These are just a few reflections on the topic, looking back over more than 40 years of a medical career. The dynamics of medical relationships are still evolving. The complexities of family life and dual physician parenting would constitute a whole other article. It also would be interesting to hear how current day early-career couples manage the issues of role strain, work-life balance and coping. Is this an issue that our medical societies should address in supporting membership? Dr. Davis is a practicing psychiatrist with Integrated Psychiatry PLLC and works as a consultant for Psychosocial Oncology at Baptist Healthcare of Louisville. Dr. Martin is the System Medical Director for Pathology and Laboratory Services at Norton Healthcare & CPA Laboratory. FEBRUARY 2020 19