Two years ago this month I picked up the phone and called to express my feelings and intentions to the woman who would become my wife. We would get married July 24, 2016. I had heard from many how marriage would be a life-changing event. After 8 months of marriage (wow that was fast), here are 4 ways how getting married made me a better doctor.
1. Getting married provided a person in my life who seeks to continually bless me.
I knew it was going to be good. But I didn’t think it would be this good. Everyday she prepares breakfast. She sends me to work with a lunch. This lightens the demands of medicine and allows me to add more value to my work.
On occasion, I’ll need to stay late to work and Melanie has been kind enough to allow me to do so (I make sure I get permission first).
2. Getting married compelled me to be a better communicator
I knew it would be hard. But I didn’t think it would be this hard. Turns out communication is the most difficult thing for me to do in our marriage. I’ve made decisions without checking in with Melanie. I’ve made assumptions (not a good idea). And that’s been a mistake.
I can’t assume she feels the same way about certain decisions unless I ask her about it specifically. Furthermore, it’s important to pick up on subtle cues – pauses, hesitations, facial expressions. Learning to slow down and check in before rushing ahead is important. Learning this lesson has improved my overall communication with patients.
3. Getting married helped me to be more balanced.
I can be a workaholic. It’s not hard for me to come into the office at 8:00am and leave the office at 8:00pm, long after everyone else has gone home. My mentor and I had a long night at the office before I got married. He advised me: This isn’t going to last long. Soon you’re going to have a woman waiting. She will want to have you home.
He was right. As a result, I’m intentional about developing other areas outside of work. I anticipate more balance in my life makes me more in tune with my own humanity. Thus I can better connect with patients.
4. Getting married has made me more understanding.
There’s a part of me that thinks I’m pretty amazing. I also knew that I was marrying another amazing person. I logically concluded that my marriage would therefore have little or no conflict. Well…
Turns out that theory didn’t last long. The first several months have been punctuated with highs and lows. There were days when I would be soaring from the joy and intimacy of marriage. Then there were the other days. The days of arguing and wondering: Are we really fighting…again?!
While Melanie has been the woman of my dreams, she is human. And I am human. And where there are humans, there are mistakes and misunderstandings and mishaps.
So I get to exercise my ability to extend grace to Melanie. And she especially gets to extend grace to me (I mess up a lot).
I can also take that same grace and extend it to my patients. A lot of what I do pushes patients and rightfully so. I challenge them. I inspire them. I motivate them.
But I can also extend grace to them. I empathize with them. I seek to understand them. I stand in solidarity with them.
And hopefully by doing so, they’ll feel a part of God’s grace, too.
All that from getting married.