We’ve “survived” our 1st year of med school - but it feels like my being at school all the time has caused my spouse to fall out of love with me. Neither of us do the little things we used to do for each other. Any advice on how to fall back in love with each other?
Sorry for taking a while to get back to you, anon. Starting medical school is a huge change in life, especially if you have also just started your lives together (I don’t know how long you’ve been married, but I’m guessing it’s less than 10 years, probably even 5). A lot of couples go through something similar, so know you are not alone. Remember that feeling when you first met your spouse and wanted to spend every single moment together and you couldn’t stop thinking about him/her? That is what some people call “love sickness”.
I remember that time well. Doc Star and I would do crazy things for each other to prove our love. When I studied abroad, I wrote him a note to read for every day I was gone. Do you know how long it took me to do that? But I was in loooove :). Yes, today we still do little things for one another, but that isn’t how we know we love each other. I remember reading somewhere that romantic love, on average, lasts only three years. Well, DS and I have been together for 7 years, so I guess our “romantic love” has been “gone” for quite some time. But something else (and better) has replaced that. Deep, meaningful love. It’s hard to explain, but it doesn’t require DS to bring me home roses every week. It forms as you go through different experiences - good and challenging - and you come out stronger.
Med school was one of those. It was new and challenging. Doc Star had to study a lot. But we did it. Our relationship was tested, but we prevailed and grew closer. Then intern year happened, and a lot of things that seemed tough in med school maybe weren’t as tough as we thought. But med school molded us to persevere through intern year. And now we are already in year 2 of residency, and intern year has prepared us for this year (see a trend)!
If you feel this “in-love” feeling has waned in your marriage, put it in perspective and do a little work to renew it - it may take a little more work than it used to, but it will be worth it. Set aside a regular date night, write a love letter to your spouse (it doesn’t have to be long). Try to be creative in the ways you show affection to each other. Remember, as you work on your marriage it will probably result in a deeper love and respect for one another.
Also, don’t be afraid to seek professional help or look for counsel from a mentor couple. Hearing the perspective of others is often times very encouraging, especially when you can relate.
You are in a tough situation where have to put almost all of your energy in to school. However, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to put that our your spouse first, and if you do, it’s up to you to make sure that he/she knows that. DS made this very clear to me - and he sacrificed some study time or sleep once in a while to talk about our relationship.
Finally, I have a couple of book suggestions (one I have read and another I haven’t gotten to yet).
The first is the 5 Love Languages, which I think all couples should read. This talks about five different ways we each feel loved, and each of us usually has a primary “Love Language”. These languages are quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, gifts, and acts of service. For example, let’s say your primary love language is quality time, but your spouse’s primary language is gifts. He/she may think that he/she is showing love to you by buying you a gift, but that may not mean the same to you - you feel more loved when your spouse and you get to spend time together. Seriously, this is a great book and eye-opener!
Next I suggest taking a look at the book The Medical Marriage. It’s on my “to-buy” list and covers some great topics that and unique to a medical relationship.
Finally, I want to make sure you’ve brought up your concern with your spouse. That’s really the first step you need to take. Does he/she feel the same way you are feeling? What are you going to do to make it better? Open communication is one of the most important aspects to any marriage.
And remember, those “little things” that you do for each other are great, but what you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.