I realized long ago that in order for this to work we had to be a family devoted to Neurosurgery, we would all be in this together or it would be a disaster.
When we married, my husband was an MS3 and was in the process of deciding what he wanted to be when he grew up. We would talk it over, forward, and backwards. His other interests were Pediatric Cardiology and Orthopaedics, both of which were just as long as arduous as Neurosurgery. So I knew from the very beginning that regardless of which specialty he chose, I would be in for a long ride. What he wanted to be wasn't nearly as important to me as what he would be most happy doing. I couldn't think of anything worse than being married to someone who had regrets about what he chose to do with his life. A specialty is a commitment that is difficult to change midway through.
I think I've mentioned before that we've had two discussion during this residency about whether or not we (I) can survive. It is me who just can't seem to go on another day, and me who needs to express it. Both of those times he has said, and I believe him, that he will do something else if it means we will all be happy. And each time I gather enough strength to go on again. Most of the time going forward on your chosen path is easier than giving up and trying something new. Plus I am not a quitter, a whiner sometimes but I don't give up. That doesn't mean I don't have to remind myself that "we" chose this! What I also try to remember is that when we made the decision to specialize in Neurosurgery we both felt good about that decision and agreed to move forward having faith that it would be for our good (and probably good for his patients as well).
It is a long ride, but I don't have the luxury of being a passenger only. When you are married to a medical professional you are a part of what makes that man who he is. Hopefully as a spouse we can make it easier for them to go about doing their "jobs". Our work is often silent and most of the time not nearly as glamorous as I would like, but it's my part in making it work. I certainly wouldn't want my doctor worrying about things at home (cleaning, cooking, shopping, laundry, bills, etc.) when he should be concentrating on my tumor!
My husband often jokes that it is a good thing he doesn't handle our finances, and I agree! I know how much time it takes me, and he doesn't have the time to do it. The role of a medical spouse cannot be underestimated. While I don't always agree that a residents life is conducive to having a spouse or children, it is that same spouse and children that make a residents life complete and well balanced (and well-fed).
Behind every good man/doctor, is an amazing woman. I am meeting more and more of them each day. I just wish they lived closer!