Rocks and Hard Places

I’m in a tough spot. I’ve been married for a little over a year and unlike most (or at least many) folks in the premed stage, being a physician isn’t a lifelong dream of mine. I’ve always had a huge respect for physicians but it’s always seemed like a career that required much more schooling than I was willing to put in. So, I never really gave it to much thought.

After being married for about a year my sister had a baby that died at birth. It was a horrible experience. While spending all of that time visiting in the hospital I really was touched by the comfort their physician was able to provide. Long story short, that got me thinking about how nice it would be to be able to help people like that.

Right after that, an older relative of mine was in and out of the hospital several times over the course of a few months. I met several really friendly doctors and a few who weren’t so friendly. It was really interesting to see how the doctors attitude affected my relative, a negative doc made for a more nervous and scared patient, and a smile seemed to spread like the flu in an elementary school.

Anyway, I hear people talk about feeling a calling towards a profession and I started to feel a calling to become a physician. That feeling was confirmed by a great experience volunteering in a local ER. Everytime I leave there I feel full of energy and totally motivated to reach my goal.

Now for the problem. My wife is less motivated. Even though we’ve talked about it several times and never argued about it, we’re just really not on the same page. She wants to start having kids soon and isn’t interested in having a house full of kids with a husband in a library or hospital 16 hours a day. To make it worse, my wife is unwilling to move. And because of my academic past (and because I love their view of medicine) the D.O. route seems to be the most likely. That means a move of at least several hours away from home. So I feel stuck between the love of my life who I would choose over anything, and what I feel truely called to do. I’d choose my wife over anything, but it’s a little sad to have to give up on this. I told her that I like computers, so maybe I’d go into something along those lines. She wasn’t even crazy about that (she wants me to stay in real estate while I want to get out of real estate and never look back) but said it sounds better than premed, med school, and residency. Now making a new schedule for next semester is just a little depressing because it’s not what I really want to be doing. Should I just get over it and move on with another career choice, should she be more supportive of what I really want to do, or is there some middle ground I’m not seeing?

Thanks for your help everyone, and for giving me a good place to vent my thoughts.

Man, I am so happy I am not married. It definitely sounds like you are in a tough situation here. From reading what others post on the board here, especially those who are in medical school now and have a family of their own, they all pretty much say that this decision has to be a family one. Indeed its really up to you but since you do have a wife, your actions will affect her life as well.

How long have you been volunteering in the ER? Have you ever thought about switching careers and working primarily in the health field? Maybe after sometime your wife will come around and see how much it means to you.

Thats just my two cents (but don’t worry someone will come along shortly and explain how wrong I am :P)

Actually, I think “the Dude” is precisely on the money with his advice. Once you’re married &/or have children, it becomes not just a communal decision; but a communal undertaking as well. No, my wife did not sit through all those classes or exams nor did she get the pretty diploma nor has she endured the freakish hours & horrific lifestyle. BUT, she has damned near been a single parent to our two daughters, had to keep the ship afloat while her husband was sequested in the ICU up to his elbows in someone guts or keeping some cat from dying in the OR all night long or any of an infinite plate of other diversion for the last 12 years. Never fool yourself, this must be a common-commitment if you are to avert a relationship disaster.

Most likely she is scared and has a multitude of questions on how this will impact her life - and she damned well has a right to explore these feelings & fears. Irrespective of whether you proceed with medicine or some other career, these are fears that will continually need to be readdressed. It is all part of the give & take of a successful marriage.

My advice to you: take your time, allow the luxury to think things through & let her know that you are open to discuss this, make compromises & above all else - that she & your marriage are your top priority. This may take some time…maybe a lot of time. And, the end result may not be what you desire today. Of course, there is the potential that through working this out, you will refine your calling & learn of other venues where you can scratch the itch you are suffering.

Great advice “the dude”!

Remember: no success can compensate for failure in the home.

You will never be happy as a doc if you ruin your marriage to get there. Work toward your goal, but when “push comes to shove” you will simply have to make a different career choice if your wife cannot be happy with the decision. The only really important variable in life is relationships.

  • Crazyman Said:
You will never be happy as a doc if you ruin your marriage to get there.

And he may begin to recent his wife if he never becomes a Doc. Resentment can eat away at the best of marriages like a cancer.

I'm in marriage#2 primarily because my first husband didn't support my dream which he was well aware of long before we married. After we had our daughter, I think he thought I would forget about becoming a physician, which I obviously never did. In my mind a true soulmate is a person who supports your goals and dreams, not just the ones which are "convenient" and similar to theirs.

Sometimes, it just takes time for the other spouse to get on board, so I'd give it some time.


I think that you should tell her everything that you just said in the post. You should have her read it. That might help the two of you to get on the same page.

Also, I think that you should volunteer and get some more practical experience under your belt, so then you will be more sure of the decision.

She might sense your uncertainty and not take it seriously.

Communication is the key in a successful relationship.