Editor’s Note – This post is a bit more brazen that my usual posts on this blog. If you aren’t in the mood for someone to just tell you straight up how it is (with some occasional sass) then you might want to just skip over this one. Or, now that you’re crazy curious, you can just read it anyway.
When people find out I am a doctor’s wife there is always a comment. It doesn’t matter if they are family members or complete strangers – they are going to tell me their thoughts on it.
Or, if I am complaining to a close friend or a sibling about my husband’s 80 hour work week or the fact that I am basically a single mom, they will try to comfort me with words that end up driving me nutso.
Now I know most of the time they don’t mean to sound insensitive or judgmental. I know it’s because they really have no clue what it is like to be married to a doctor. Just like how I have no clue what it’s like to be married to a military man, a police officer, or a teacher. But even though I know it’s usually from a lack of understanding, I still HATE some of the comments.
And so, here are 5 things you should not say to a doctor’s wife. If you are reading and you ARE a doctor’s wife, feel free to laugh or cringe along with me. I’m sure you have heard a lot of these already (I definitely have). If you are super brave you can even share these with your friends as a not so subtle hint.
If you are not married to a doctor, try to remember these tips the next time you come across a doctor’s wife. We know it’s because you don’t understand and we will try to not throat punch you if you do say any of these things. Just know that the struggle is real and it’s not all candy and roses, that’s for sure.
And yes, people have said 4 out of these 5 things to me, some of them often! I am not making this stuff up.
1. “You guys must make a Lot of money!”
Or, to those of us still in training “It’s ok, he will end up making a lot of money and it will all be worth it.” (I get this one ALL OF THE TIME. I know people mean well when they say this, but argh!!)
Ok. First off, talking about how much money someone makes (or doesn’t make) is tacky. So stop.
Also, when people say this does it mean the money we may make at a future time makes up for the scraping by we do now? Or all of that money he currently makes is a good substitute for him working the equivalent of two full-time jobs in one week?
Just remember, that most doctors don’t start their career until mid 30’s because the training takes forever. And by the time they DO start bringing home the big boy paycheck, they have hundreds of THOUSANDS of dollars in loans to pay off. So for years they are barely able to pay their bills, then still have to live frugally until they can pay off their debts. It’s not just a quick road to money. It is long and it is hard and we sacrifice for years to finally make it to a “real” doctor’s pay. And, sometimes that pay isn’t all that great either, depending on specialty and location.
Also, most of our doctor husbands are not in it for the money! No amount of money would make this craziness worth it! Seriously though. Most of them are in it because they truly love medicine and they love what they do.
2. “You married a doctor?? Good for you!!”
No. I married an undergrad business major. I didn’t marry a doctor, but we are both currently working on MAKING a doctor.
Also, pretty sure my main priority with picking my husband was making sure I was marrying an amazing person, not what he may or may not do for a living.
3. “That Must be nice.”
What must be nice? The fact that he is working ALL OF THE TIME? That because he is always at the hospital I take care of everything else in our life? Yes, it is suuuuuuper nice. *insert sarcasm here* The nice thing about it is my husband is an amazing husband and dad who works really hard for his family. And that’s about it.
4. “You married a doctor? So wait, why are you still working?!”
I haven’t personally heard this one, but I know quite a few people who get this all of the time. Some people work because they worked hard for their degree and they love what they do for work! Just because their husband is a doctor doesn’t mean they should throw away their identity and stop living their life. Just because their job might not be financially necessary anymore does not mean they will stop working. His job does not trump his wife’s job.
5. “You don’t look/act like a doctor’s wife.”
I heard this one while waiting in line for a ride at Disneyland, when talking to a complete stranger. I’m not joking!
Wait a minute. There is a cookie-cutter way a doctor’s wife is supposed to look or act like? No we do not all have to be size 2, blonde, with manicured nails and wearing the latest fashions. Newsflash – we are normal people just like you. Maybe a little crazier, but pretty much the same as you.
Now that I’ve probably scared all of you into silence with all of these things NOT to say to a doctor’s wife…. What do you say?
What to say instead:
If a friend is venting to you about the long training process of becoming a doctor, don’t make any comment about money or about how everything will be better when he is done. Instead, just say, “I’m sorry, that must be hard.” That’s it. Most of the time we are just looking for someone to understand us and agree with us that sometimes this just stinks.
Or, if you find out someone’s husband is a current doctor, again, don’t talk about the $$$!! Because the money situation may not be all that great. If you want to comment, say something like, “Wow, what an accomplishment for both of you!” or “That is so cool your husband is a doctor. I’m grateful there are people like your husband who are willing to take care of patients.” Either of these comments would make us doctor’s wives feel like a million bucks (and our spouses).
Really, just say what you would say to other people when you are talking about their husband’s career. If your friend’s husband was a 5th grade school teacher would you make a comment about their paycheck? No. Would you make judgements on their lifestyle or how the wife should act? No, of course not. So don’t do that to us doctor’s wives either. I always tell teachers how much I admire them, because I could never successfully teach a room of 30 kids anything. That is a hard job!
Just remember – don’t talk about money. It’s tacky. Just talk about what the husband is doing in their career that is valuable and validate the wife for the support she gives him. That’s it. Easy peasy.
And if you do say any of these no-no things to me, it’s ok. We can still be friends. But I may or may not be rolling my eyes when I walk away.