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Marriages, Madness, and Medical School

A college professor talking in his office


Dear Student,

It's been a minute since we've talked. You've spent hours with your books and devices in the library. I have had various teaching, research, and administrative tasks to fill almost every second on my calendar.

I appreciate last week’s office visit. Our conversation reminded me of why I work in this field. Brothers like you need someone to connect with and offer solid advice.

I am happy, honored, and humbled to be that person for you, but this is not about me. It's about you. I am writing you to reinforce a couple of points from our meeting.

You talked about your relationship challenges. I listened and empathized with your circumstances.

I affirmed that marriages can be difficult. They often travel through moments of ecstasy followed by hardship and then soon after repeat the cycle. This process is normal; hopefully, you grow stronger each day you work to sustain the partnership with your wife.

When you couple the long distance with a stressful endeavor like attending medical school, a marriage can feel especially tough. Your wife is there working in her career, and you are here getting the education to begin your career. Although you share professional interests, rarely will your days mirror each other.

You're in different parts of the world and in life.

You have every right to feel frustration. Still, I want to encourage you to stay in there. Continue to make time to talk and listen to her love language. Send her the special gifts she enjoys.

Remember the vows of your wedding day and the love that flourishes five years later.

Although living in separate countries, you can maintain intimacy through consistent communication. Every night before bed, you show up on Facetime or WhatsApp to see her face, helps to build trust. Doing what you say you will do lets her know you are a man of your word.

The stress in medical school is enough. You have high-stakes quizzes and higher-stakes comprehensive exams. Personal challenges only prevent you from focusing on your studies.

It’s an honor to become an ethical medical doctor. Think about the foundation you are laying for a family. Contemplate the inevitable impact in your community.

The discipline and sacrifices you invest in yourself and your relationship today will pay dividends in the future. Having a family to share successes with is worth the effort. Men often live longer and more fulfilling lives when they have a family.

My wife and children pushed me to earn a Ph.D. during a difficult time in grad school. They gave me a reason to write when I didn't want to and encouraged me to connect to a larger support network. My family continues to fuel my days with the necessary energy and desire to learn, grow, and improve.

You have studies to complete, so I will cut this follow-up letter short. But know that I am here for you.

As mentioned during our meeting, I've been married for almost 14 years. I am happy to share my experiences to help guide you down a similar path. Don't hesitate to email or stop by the office.

Before I let you go, remember your wife's love language. Although you can't convey emotions through physical touch across the Atlantic, you can let her know you care through your words, time, small gifts, and effort.

Talk with you soon,


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