Long Distance Perspective

It’s getting late, and I should be in bed. I am missing Future Dr. B because he has been away for the last week. Long distance is both difficult and rewarding. For one – I am going to be stretching out alone in my bed tonight – my favorite thing. However, I miss his presence and our before bed conversations when he is here. I hate to admit it, but it just isn’t the same without him.

My co-worker, who knows the ins and outs of my relationship with Future Dr. B and who has heard me complain, lament and gush over all aspects of the ups and downs of long distance, sent me an article about why being in a long distance relationship is a good thing. I read the article with a degree of skepticism. However, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I agree completely with the sentiments. I think the article highlights some of the positives that come with long distance. I have gotten a lot of comments from people out there, and have read many blogs, with similar long distance situations. For anyone nervous about their current long distance relationship, hopefully the positives in communication, love, and connection transcends the distance.

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A Review of Dating a Medical Student…Countdown

I am currently at the 6 month countdown to wedded bliss with Future Dr. B, and I figured this was a good time to do a reflective piece. There are lots of countdowns going on in my mind actually. Let me see..

  1. Until wedded bliss – 6 months
  2. Countdown until I know where I live (aka matchday) – roughly 3.5 months (March 18th this year)
  3. Countdown until residency starts for Future Dr. B, well rephrase – both of us really – 7 months
  4. Countdown until the car I bought Future Dr. B is paid for – 4 years 11 months (or 7 months until Future Dr. B has to start making the payments (got him lol)
  5. Countdown until I potentially could need to do all of the following: find a new job, new house, sell my house, move and uproot my life…well that is TBD in all actuality – somewhere between 3.5 months and 7 months.

The list of countdowns could honestly go on and on. Dating a medical student and/or marrying them involves constant changes and new developments. A couple years ago, I wrote my most popular blog post to date: Dating a Medical Student = Constant Waiting Game. Go check it out if you haven’t read it! The constant waiting game blog is really where the story started for me. I was just beginning to become truly serious in my relationship with Future Dr. B, and he was deep into his second year of medical school. I felt like I was always waiting around until he was done with whatever HE was done with. I made a pact with myself during that second year of medical school, that I could no longer view this journey with him as a waiting game and embrace my life for what it was – “living in the moment” if you will. I focused on ME for a time. In doing so, I began to formulate what I saw as a plan for OUR lives, what eventually evolved into a multitude of countdowns. I think I compensated for my lack of control over Future Dr. B’s schedule, which I felt had been defining my own life, by creating my own version of a timeline… or I should clarify – “countdowns”. The one thing I just recently realized though, is that the light at the end of the tunnel, or the end to the seemingly perennial countdown, is an oxymoron because dating a medical student is a continuous chain of countdowns – one beginning when the next one ends. What I had originally concocted as my happily ever after, my end to the “constant waiting game,” and the plan for how I controlled our relationship, really turned out to control me.

I had the “Ah hah” moment this weekend when I was having a pleasant and rare dinner out with Future Dr. B. It was a date night that was unplanned and a totally happy diversion from all the stress we are currently encountering. Future Dr. B was back early from one of his interviews, and we decided to hit the town with plans to have dinner at a local brewery. It was 7pm, and we walked into the restaurant ready to throw back a couple of brews and nosh on some hipster style hamburgers. When we approached the hostess stand to garner a table, she responded that they were no longer seating anyone else for the night. I was totally aghast, surprised that any local eatery would turn away patrons willing to wait. We never got a clear answer as to why the brewery could not take anyone else to eat, the strangest part being that they didn’t even take reservations either. I was perplexed to say the least. However, we wound up going down the street to an equally delicious eatery, imbibing on my favorite Christmas beer concoction and having a wonderful experience. [insert “ah hah” moment here] I realized, in that moment, that if I was always so calculated in my choices, if I always set these imaginary deadlines about what should be next, I would be missing out on the great experience tucked in the corner. Those just might be the events and choices that turn out to be the most fun in the end. Who knows?

Over the next six months, I have decided to let a lot of what I can’t control come as it may and enjoy all of these changes for what they are. I might not know where Future Dr. B will match for residency, where I potentially will live, what my job will be, or what my life will look like in general. This is sort of exciting and scary all at the same time.

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All of us – dating, engaged to, marrying, or married to a medical student/resident – let’s do this together!

Ahh – I’m inspired, I love when that happens!

Financial Stress of Dating a Medical Student

Future Dr. B has been away this week, traveling throughout the eastern half of the U.S. interviewing every day for a residency position. This has not only been exhausting to him, but has also been exhausting to me, as I have been trying my best to help him coordinate his schedule and figure out how to pay for it all. What I find the most nutso about this entire process is not only that Future Dr. B not only has little control over where he ends up (the U.S. match process which I am sure I will get into more in another post), but that he is forced to finance these interviews completely on his own without the help of the programs that he is interviewing with. I fondly call the interviews mini vacations for him, because he is jetsetting across the country on a daily basis. If we could all be so lucky! While I am half-heartedly joking about the vacation, I am very concerned about how all of these interviews are going to be financed and from who that money will come from.

Everyone told me that M4 was going to be the best year yet because Future Dr. B was going to have a lot more time when the stressors of clinicals passed. While I have seen more of him at times, I feel like this has been the most stressful year for me thus far. I’m not sure if it is the combination of the fact that shit just got real for everything. Not only am I going along on this crazy adventure in the same way I was as the “Girlfriend”, but now I have the added pressures that come with “Future Wife.” These stressors include determining if we are going to be financially stable in our marriage, and this is with the added expenses of his interviewing and our upcoming nuptials. On top of all of that, we don’t even live together, so I am constantly wondering if I should just pay for things he needs, like interview travel and assorted other expenses that come with his medical career, or do I put that burden on him as we are still two independent people?

I have sought a ton of advice recently from couples married for decades. How do you get around financial struggles, and what would be the best course of action to take in our situation? Do we split our accounts up? What about Future Dr. B’s loans? How do I pay for things while we are engaged? Does it make more sense for me to help him financially now because I am the bread winner, and he would have to put it on his loans? How do I protect myself since I am a working woman and have been saving every dime I have made for the last six years? Should I even worry about any of this?

Phhew…it is completely and utterly exhausting. I fall asleep to dollar signs floating out of my head, watching the money float away in my dreams. Unfortunately, I haven’t exactly gotten many answers that have been helpful from married couples I know. This isn’t because I haven’t met and spoken to some amazing married couples, including my own parents (30 years married and counting). It is more that I haven’t honestly met too many other people in my situation. For as much as I am connected in Brendan’s medical school community, we don’t know many medical school couples who have been long distance and are in different parts of their careers. I have found some wise information on the internet, including these awesome tips from lovingontherun.com: 7 Things I’ve Learned as the Wife of a Medical Student

However, I am still soul searching and seeking some great advice…If you have please let me know and comment below!

For now…

I have decided to help Future Dr. B in many ways financially and what I fondly refer to as administratively (I am his personal assistant after all). I figure we are most likely getting married (no bad juju here) and we need to start working as a team. As much as it has been difficult on me to carry both the financial burden and the future wife burden, it has definitely challenged us to communicate better and be open and honest about our financial situation. I am sure the coming months are going to be even more challenging as we find out where he is matched for residency and start making the BIG decisions such as: where we will live, what my job looks like following him to wherever it is we are going, and how we handle the massive pile of debt he has already amassed in his quest to becoming a doctor. Oh boy oh boy…so much more to write about….