Convincing my husband ...

I need some advice input, etc. on a family situation.

First, a bit (kind of a lot …) of background. Bear with me, please:

My husband of 6 years (we’ve been together more than 9), whom I love dearly, is not, shall we say, overjoyed at the prospect of working his stressful job (or one like it) for the next 10 years while I get to go off and learn how to save people’s lives and do all kinds of other exciting things. (We’ll just forget the part about how it’s really hard work. And exhausting. For the moment.)

He doesn’t like the idea of risking our necks (to the tune of ~$300,000; post-bac + med school) for this proposition. He is afraid of losing our house. He is fearful for our relationship, that I will not have the time/energy to invest in it while a med student/resident, and that I will neglect him in favor of studying, working, etc. He has doubts that I possess the strength and fortitude to complete this long, grueling journey. (That last one PISSES ME OFF especially. I worked my a** off in undergrad, and in my professional career. Argh. But never mind.)

While at first I was highly defensive (and offended), I have taken a step back and have come alongside him in an attempt to understand and acknowledge his fears and misgivings.

We have agreed to think not about the next 10 years, but about the next semester – how my first few months back at school (my post-bac) will go. And then go from there. (“Baby steps,” as Bob would say. )

Here is where I am asking for input. Any suggestions on how to demonstrate to him (I avoid the word “prove” because it’s so absolutist) that, well, this going to medical school thing is a good idea? (Perhaps that begs the question …)

Seriously, though. Some thoughts on how I can show him:

a) I am capable of going from BS in Journalism to MD (which I do not doubt for even a nanosecond)

b) I am not abandoning him

c) I am capable of living a balanced life (extension of part b)

d) We are capable of living on his salary + loan money

I’m so on this already, as much as I can be. The house is spotless (well, getting there). I’ve got dinners covered. I’m working on being more attentive, and being more “balanced” (less med school stuff, more quality time with husband when he’s home). We’re working on a budget (not finished yet, but working on it, and doing it together). I’ve submitted all my loan applications EARLY, with my cosigner info, just waiting for decisions/feedback from the evil banks (sucks being a non-degree-seeking student). I’m really trying. I am.


I just feel like it’s not going to be enough. That, inevitably, we will have another blow-up over this, and he will, again, tell me to “Go get a job!” (Yes, direct quotation, from a couple of weeks ago.) Or that we should “re-evaluate” my going back to school this fall. (When I start classes in 5 weeks.)

You see, I really love this man. We’ve been through a helluva lot together. But I also have a dream. Where does that leave me when the two seem to collide?

A corollary to the above: You know that whole Langston Hughes “Dream Deferred” crap? (see the bottom of this post for the poem, which I’ve copied/pasted off the Web) Well, I don’t think it’s crap. I believe that poem can have meaning for us as OPMs (it does for me, at least), because we’re pursuing a dream that has, in most cases, been deferred. Sometimes for a very, very long time.

OK, now I’m going off on a literary tangent. That’s what you get for working as a textbook editor for too long.

Anyway, my vent/rant officially ends … now.

Thanks for reading, and for any input, in advance. I really appreciate the support.

“Dream Deferred”

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up

Like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore–

And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over–

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

  • Langston Hughes

Hi Terra,

Warning! The following is simply my opinion and not in any way meant to be offensive. I believe in earnest that you really want this to work so I will be as honest as I can be with little knowledge of you or your spouse.

If there is one valuable lesson I have learned from my wife it is the idea that less words are often more. Yes, it is indeed essential to communicate, however, it is often a futile exercise to convince. In other words, any person at any given time can convince just about anyone, anything. You need your husband to BELIEVE that this is the best course of action for you and him. This is best done by finding solutions that clearly demonstrate the likelihood of success rather than the simple possibility of. You and I know that we can do anything we set our minds to but, you are asking your partner to risk most everything that (I suspect) is near and dear to him. Really think about that. I suggest that you let him play some role in determining how this will unfold. This may give him a sense that he has some control of how his life and relationship go.

Second, people respond to the subtle cues in our pitch, both positively and negatively. Again this is an area I would make sure you have a fool prof plan that is thoughtful of your needs and his. Not just wishes and dreams but rather concrete solid plans of how your marriage will not only survive but be stronger when you are finished with school.

While it is a nice thing that you are doing chores around the house it may feel like you are trying to sell him on the idea. Be honest with yourself about how this is going to negatively affect your home life. It might help to really empathize with his ten year plan of work at a job that he may really dislike. The best way to deal with resentment is to avoid it in the first place. He too has dreams and plans and they should hold court as equally as your own.

I do believe that you can make this work and thrive both personally and in your marriage but is absolutely essential that you be honest and not convincing.


PS you may want to give consideration to the National Health Service Corps. I know people that have had great success with this.

Believe vs. convince: I like your subtle paradigm shift there, MileHighOldMan (can’t remember your IRL name … sorry.). I don’t disagree with you.

One thing I’ve realized in the last few days, since writing that last post, is that whenever my husband comes up with a potential “challenge” to the med school plans, I become hyper-defensive. I see it as an attack. And so I respond in kind. This has not made it easy to talk about things in the calm, collected way that is required for us BOTH to believe that this path is the right thing. So I think the first thing for me is to stop being so defensive, and start being more emphathetic to his concerns. That’s step #1 for me. And I’ve started doing that, and so far so good.

And yes, having a “plan” for how our marriage will survive is also a great idea. I think I could start with suggesting setting aside certain time aside for us to spend together, for example, and have that time be sacrosanct. I think that would go a long way toward showing him that our relationship IS important to me, and I’m not setting it aside for my educational/professional aspirations.

Regarding the household work that I’ve been doing of late – that is something that my HUSBAND asked me to do better with, so I don’t see it as me selling him on the idea, I see it as me trying to honestly meet some of his needs (ie, not come home from work to piles of dishes in the sink and get even more stressed out than he already is). I see it as me trying to work on something that I’m really not so great at: being balanced. I have a tendency to run with an idea or a concept, and go whole-hog. I need to be more well-rounded, and mixing post-bac prep and my work at the research lab with fixing dinner and making sure the dishes are done is a way of practicing that.

I do want my husband to fulfill his own dreams. One of his big dreams, truly, is having a “family” with me, (we’re not sure about kids yet), settling down in a house (as we have done), making a life for ourselves together. So I can understand why the med school idea is so scary – it threatens one of his most important ideals. So yes, I do need to show him that I have not put my goal above his, but that we can work together to acheive both of our goals. It just may be a few years before we have such a “steady” life, but it will come.

Regarding the Nat’l Health Service Corps – I’m not really interested in primary care, so that’s not an option for me. But thanks for the suggestion.

And thank you so much for your long, thoughtful reply. I truly appreciate it. And I wish you the best on your journey, with your spouse as well – it seems to me that it’s both a challenge and a blessing doing this with another person. You get that added support, which is huge, but you do have to take another person into consideration, which you wouldn’t be doing if you were 22 and single.

Anyway … thanks again. My husband and I have had our scary moments in the last few weeks, but things have gotten better even in the last few days, and I believe that this will actually bring us closer together. That’s my hope, at least.

Hi Terra,

I am glad to hear things are better, if maybe just for the moment. I know what a real heart ache it is to sometimes not have that support we so desperately seek.

Regarding the Health Services Corp…while it is targeted at primary care and the like, I have know several people that have gone through that are in surg and radiology. Typically what happens is that you contact your state or where you want to go and see if there are any unfilled primary slots…if so they will most often fill them with whatever field they can. Keep that in the back of your head.


My wife came to me a year and a half ago with the question, “Can I go to Nurse Anesthetist school”?

The first six months was pretty rough with a three year old son.but after seing how much she enjoys it, her absence isn’t as unbearable as it once was. We have learned to figure it out, adapt and overcome. It also helps that she said she would send me to Alaska on a fishing trip when she is finished as a reward for my extra home duties completed.


I’m glad you brought up this issue, I’m in a similar situation and I’m sure there are many of us out there. My husband is a PGY-2 internal medicine and while he does understand that I’m not being fulfilled in my current role as an audiologist and have always wanted to be in medicine as a physician, the last thing he necessarily wants to do is relive the medical school/residency process through his wife. We’ve had MANY discussions about this throughout our relationship and he is certainly supportive of me switching careers but being in the field and knowing first-hand what it entails is encouraging me to seriously consider NP or PA as well as medicine. I certainly understand his point of view and it is ALOT to ask of him to go through the process twice. My biggest fear is that I will switch careers and choose a different route than MD/DO (i.e. NP or PA) and end up feeling exactly the same way I do now. Then what? I’m really only trying to focus one day/step at a time. For me right now that is taking my pre-reqs while working full-time and seeing how that goes and how it affects our life/relationship.

Can anyone elaborate on this issue or offer any advice/wisdom/insight?


The long and arduous journey that all of us are about to take requires a “leap of faith”. At least that is what I told my wife…even though she thinks I am having a mid-life crisis, I beg to differ…lol…

In all seriousness, you have to understand that this is one of the most selfish things you can decide to do. I don’t mean that in a bad way, its just true. If you can come to terms with it, it may be easier to deal with your spouse. It was really helpful for me to decide, in the beginning, that I was going back, with or without her. It took away alot of the second guessing and worrying for me. She saw that I was committed to the point that she needed to decide to come along for the adventure or not. It stopped alot of the harsh “challenge” conversations and turned to how we were going to make it work. If you are projecting less than 100 percent commitment, it is easier for the spouse to try to talk you out of it. I know it sounds harsh, but I hope that helps, good luck!

The other point of view, the one that I take, is that nothing is more important than your marriage. Your spouse must know that s/he comes first in your life, no matter what. This knowledge may give your spouse the confidence to support you in your pursuit. If so, great! Go for it! By the same token, if your spouse just cannot get behind you for whatever reason (money worries, insecurity, “this isn’t what we agreed to when I married you”, etc.), then your first priority is to her/him.

While I am still trying to position myself for the possibility of prepping for a med school application run in the coming year or two, I have stopped affirmatively moving forward for this very reason. My wife just isn’t behind me at this time. Some of her reasons are quite valid; others seem specious to me. Doesn’t matter. My first loyalty is to her, not to my own personal (or, as drdriddle puts it, selfish) desires. If and when she takes my point of view, I will decide if I have the desire, time, and willingness to sacrifice to make the jump. Until then, my marriage vows have to be more than just words.

Ugh, I knew I was going to sound like the bad guy for not going with pick the marriage first. But having been divorced once, I guess my views on life have changed alittle. It is of course up to the individual to decide. In my case I think I knew that if I picked school,and was a 100 percent committed, she would come along for the ride. There is risk in everything. Being that committed to going back, may actually make it easier for the other to believe in you and take away some of their FUD. (fear, uncertainty, doubt)

Of course if the spouse follows you and you crash and burn and end up in a van down by the river…you will probably never hear the end of it.

No “bad guy” stuff intended, drdriddle. Just presenting my viewpointnt as a contrast to yours.

No worries Spoxjox!! That was more a projection of how I was feeling and not anything you said.

I think both points have merit.

Dear terra,

How are things going after all these months? Are you going to the Conference this summer?

You are in your second semester now probably… how is that going too?

Keep us updated!


Hi Shan,

I actually keep a diary here on OldPreMeds, which is probably the best way to keep up with what I’ve been doing. Feel free to read along! I also keep a blog (outside OPM), and the link is in my signature. (The link to my diary is also in my signature.)

As for how things are going … my school work is going quite well, so that’s good. I’ve just registered for next year’s classes, so that’s exciting! I’ll be moving beyond gen bio and gen chem to anatomy, genetics, and all that good stuff. Yay!

In terms of my family life, my husband has actually decided he wants a divorce. Which is very sad to me, because that is something I definitely do not want. But clearly, I cannot make him stay. So my future (in terms of living situation, etc.) is rather uncertain.

Hope you are finding OPM helpful, and will continue to post!

Oh, and yes - I am most DEFINITELY going to the conference this summer. I can’t wait! Hope to see you there.

  • Lorien