Monday, October 29, 2012

How Not To Make Friends

Today I talked with a young woman from my church who has children the same age as mine. We were talking about play groups and how we should start one.  She indicated that there is a group that meets together for a weekly play group but she didn't go anymore.  They were mostly attended by the medical wives and, according to her experience, all they did was talk about their husbands, how much money they were going to make, what kind of state benefits they could get while in school, and their latest purchases.

I wanted to die. I hope she wasn't putting me in that group by virtue of my husbands profession. I could tell this woman wasn't impressed with what she saw. And no wonder that no one other than the medical wives went to play group.  Who would want to sit around and hear that every week? I sure wouldn't!

So a word to my medical friends. It is rude to talk about such things in public. It is one thing to have a discussion with your friends who are in the same boat, but when you do it with others who aren't in the same boat, or even floating on the same ocean, it comes off as exclusive and aloof. Certainly not a way to make friends.

It is in poor taste, regardless of what your husband is studying or what his income potential may be, to discuss salaries. Or maybe I am just old-fashioned, it could be that.

I am well aware that my family income potential is xyz and our friends and family know what he is doing and can take guesses at what that might be. They don't need me or my husband to tell them. And we don't plan to. Likewise, anyone who knows that your spouse is studying to be a doctor can make a guess about what kind of income future he has without hearing it from you. The Internet can tell anyone just about anything who is interested in knowing.

My point is, not everyone has the same income trajectory. Most of the people we will meet during training are at or near their maximum income potential for their particular career. They aren't going to have the same day/night experience that you and I will have.  It is true. But just because it is true, doesn't change the fact they no one wants to hear how much money you expect to make in five years and how that amount is going to be several times more than you make today. And just because you might temper it with a confession of your student loan debt doesn't make it sound any better.

Don't do it.

Many people live on the salary that you and I do through residency for most of their life and make it work. I have complained here about how difficult it is, but it will end. Maybe it is only difficult because I know what is coming. For many, it will never end, or it will only change in small increments. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to make this our life AND know that it wouldn't be changing. I can also imagine how insulting it would be to hear a resident wife complain out loud about her misfortune but that in a few years it will all be a distant memory.


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10 comments:

  1. Excellent point! My husband just started med school at the ripe old age of 34. We have two small children and are making it work to fulfill his dream and goals. I agree that it is rude to discuss how much money you will have, etc. Let me also say that I think it's rude for others to comment in how much money he might make one day. It makes me extremely uncomfortable every time someone else brings it up. Plus it doesn't pay today's expenses. :-)

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    1. You are right! Having someone else take the conversation there is awkward. Good luck with medical school, it certainly looks different starting in your 30's doesn't it? My husband just celebrated his 40th birthday during fellowship year.

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    2. Med school at this age definately looks different to me than what it appears to me to be at 20 something. Most of the people I meet don't yet have families and are still working and have their "own" lives, but I'm sure they still have challenges of their own. I hope I never come across as complaining. This is our story, our life right now, and I wouldn't change it.

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    3. Totally! We have friends who comment that we're "going to be rich" when I finish med school. Ummmm.... if I go into peds, I'll be making less than they currently do. Not poor, but we definitely won't be 1%-ers. Sometimes you have to dispel these erroneous beliefs!

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  2. Yuck! I have never even talked like that with other resident wives! It has always been non-medical friends who bring up the money issue and I quickly change the subject. It is good to point out though that we shouldn't complain about current circumstances...I need to do a better job at being thankful for what we have right now.

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    1. I always thought that ladies were bonkers saying that we'd look back on residency as some of the best years of our lives, but seriously - I have had such a blast riding this med/res roller coaster with the husband.

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    2. I remember thinking the same thing too! Only now that it is coming to an end can I say it wasn't so bad. Probably because it is hard to separate the career training from the family training we started at the same time, and that was a lovely ride that I would never change.

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  4. The dreaded question... "What does your husband do?" Uggs. Hate talking about it with new people and never talk about incomes with others.
    I will say, I have talked to other doc wives (whom I know well and trust) about job packages/benefits/bonuses, etc. to make sure we were getting the best possible offer. That conversation proved to be beneficial.

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  5. Ah! I agree! It can be incredibly awkward when people ask what your husband does, sometimes I feel like once the words "resident" come out of my mouth, they've already stereotyped me with the white picket fence on the fanciest street in town (and we all know residents don't make a lot of money!). It is inappropriate to discuss income in the future, not only because it is poor taste but also because we have no idea what it could be. Why would I want to egg on the stereotypes that already put us in a box (wrapped with a silver bow, at that ;) ?

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