I am married to a doctor and a sailor. Trust me, they’re the same person! Being married to a military doctor has demonstrated that being a doctor’s wife and a military wife are actually not all that different. The similarities between the two are uncanny. My fellow doctor spouses understand why my husband is never home, why he’s late to dinner, and gone for a month (or more) at a time. But so do my fellow military spouses! The reasons for the latter may be different, but our homefront looks the same.
It’s the Same Life
It’s no secret that military families are constantly being uprooted and moving around the country (or world). But doctor families deal with moving every two to three years, too. First, they move to attend medical school, next they move for clinical rotations, then there’s another relocation for a residency program, they move again for a fellowship program, and finally, they may move once for their real job. (Whew!)
However, unlike the military, the government doesn’t financially help doctor families move to every location. Being a doctor’s wife in the civilian world can be very lonely because we’re so dispersed, but my military spouses get me. They understand what it’s like to be forced to find a whole new community: friends, church or synagogue, schools, hairdresser, dentist, etc.
Both sides know the hardship of finding an emergency contact. There’s so much irony in the fact that I can’t put my doctor-hubby as an emergency contact, even though he would be the most qualified. Chances are he wouldn’t be available to answer his phone because he’s taking care of others. The same is true for soldiers, sailors, corpsmen and the like. And — guess what — odds are that both a doctor family and military family are not geographically anywhere near extended family to add them as emergency contacts. Being married to a military doctor has taught me to develop and rely on relationships outside of my family. I have my military “sister-wives” and my “doctor wives.” I don’t know what I’d do without either of them.
Military wives and doctor’s wives instantly understand when I’m stressed about whether I should wait for my husband to come home for dinner to eat. They wholeheartedly identify with me when I show up to an event solo, or don’t come at all because I don’t have anyone to stay home with the kids.
Military spouses sometimes compete for how long their spouse is deployed. I hear dependents say, “Oh, your spouse is deployed for three months? You’re lucky — mine was gone for a year.” Similarly, I hear doctor’s wives say, “Oh, your spouse worked 60 hours this week? You’re lucky — mine worked 90.” Whether my spouse is spending too many hours with the squadron or too many hours at the hospital (not by choice), we still share the same angst. We’ve both learned how to pick ourselves up, all while dealing with our children’s sadness at home, too.
Both military wives and doctor’s wives are empathetic to the innumerable lifestyle uncertainties: Where are we going to move next? What job or squadron are you going to accept/transfer to next? How am I going to find a new job? Doctor’s and military wives feel the same anxieties. As a doctor’s wife, I supported my husband while he waited to find out where he was accepted for medical school and residency. Likewise, I supported my sailor while he waited to find out where he’d be deployed. I support my doctor husband every time he strives for another certification, and I support my sailor with each new rank.
And We Love It!
Want another huge commonality? We both hear, “You knew what you were getting into when you got married,” (insert: eye roll). Whether medical or military, we experience the struggle of trying to find happiness in our circumstances and battle the bitterness of our spouse’s job. Not to mention, we both know what it’s like to sleep alone — a lot.
I’m happy to be married to a military doctor because I feel like my tribe has grown a whole lot larger. Being a doctor’s wife in the civilian world can be lonely, so I’m thankful for military wives who swoop in, hand me a glass of wine with a hug and say, “You’re not alone.” But what’s the biggest and single-most important resemblance between being a doctor’s wife and military wife? Our husbands are heroes.
Photo Credits: Katie Van Brunt | Renee Dolan | Unsplash