There are three things that threaten every relationship, but particularly relationships involving medical training: Sleep, Money, Time. Any of the three experienced in singularity are an annoyance, but when working together they have the capacity to fatally wound the parties involved.
This triple threat is what makes medical life unique. At some time or another every person, regardless of occupation/profession, experiences one or two simultaneously. But how often do all three make an appearance? How often do all three linger for weeks, months, or years?
Sleep: I have had a small glimpse of what it means to be sleep deprived, but only in cycles. I have small children. Currently, I am working on a stretch of almost a year without an uninterrupted night of sleep. That is almost 365 nights that I have woken up to take care of someone else. I am optimistic that it is almost over, but also realistic - we are in a state of transit, and no one is sleeping well. I can't very well expect my baby to sleep through the night when I keep moving around from one place to the other. When we get settled, it's on.... that baby will sleep!
Money: That is something I know all too well. There were a few times that we were able to relax and felt like we had abundance. But those times were usually isolated to tax return season, and the two glorious months each year when the payroll cycles worked to our favor - like hitting the jackpot. But outside of those times there was a lot of doing without. I can list all of the things we lived without, didn't experience, didn't eat, didn't do. But I won't, it's depressing. One wrong step and down you go. I'm not going there. But we made it!
Time: How did DrH accomplish anything? Mowing the yard, shoveling snow, running, cycling, studying. He had time. The problem was there weren't any large blocks of time. An entire weekend? Not often. An entire week off? When we had babies. A Friday night where he was home before 5:00, can't recall many. Time that could just be enjoyed leisurely.... No. There was always something to do, some place to go, some one to call. Downtime, real downtime, is what is in short supply. You know the time when you can just sit and talk about nothing in particular. Time that you can spend walking aimlessly without anywhere to go. Time you can spend without worrying about how it is going to make the rest of your day ridiculously hectic.
It's hard to assign an impact rating to these three relationship threats. Is it the lack of sleep? Is it the lack of money? It is the lack of time? Which one pushes things over the edge?
I have tried to figure it out over the last 6 years and have come to this conclusion: I don't know which one is to blame, but when they are present together it's time to put on your game face and plow through it.
During residency there is plenty of sleep deprivation, cash deprivation, and time deprivation. Maybe residency should be renamed "deprivation". If anyone asked what your husband is doing you could respond he is doing his "Deprivation" at the local hospital. Seems self explanatory to me.