When my husband started medical school, I remember feeling a bit upset about the number of hours he was gone and/or studying. I remember often whining (silently) and thinking, "I married him because I liked to be with him." I could not figure out how any couple could possibly survive the demands of medical school and still emerge with a strong marriage relationship.
When my husband and I were first married, we did need to spend a lot of
time together. I remember feeling so completely dependent on him, so
grateful for his love - and so changed by it, and I literally couldn't wait to see him every day
after each period of separation - despite the length. It seems silly to
think of now, but I couldn't stand not to have him at my side.
When people get married, I don't think we have any clue about how the marriage relationship will change, as well as how necessary it is that it does change.
It is amazing to think of how much more I saw my husband during those years compared to now. If our current relationship still depended on how much time we spend together, my husband and I would be completely miserable.
Many people have posted about how unsure they are about getting married to a doctor (whether in medical school or residency or practicing) because their careers are so demanding. It is true that relationships are stronger when people invest in them and spend time together. However, over time my husband and I have discovered how to meet each others' needs without spending much time at all (forget immense amounts of time) together. We do try to get away for a weekend once a year. We do try to go on a date each week (though we sometimes miss once or twice a month). Often our dates are brief, one-hour long, either spent running five miles together, or sitting next to a cozy fire at a Starbucks talking and slowly sipping salted caramel hot chocolates. Of course our relationship has changed since we were first married. Of course our needs have also changed. Of course sometimes I silently moan about how little he is around. Of course I am sometimes grateful that he is in fact working all night (especially if I don't feel like cooking dinner...). But, in general, despite my husband's busy schedule, I think what matters is that we both do our best to invest in our marriage relationship.
A wise person once told me: "There will be times during your marriage that you will not feel an ounce of love toward your husband. All that will matter in that moment is your level of commitment to him."
I think once a couple makes the choice and then works diligently to stay committed to each other, the couple will be amazed by how the relationship can and will develop, deepen and become one of the most wonderful gifts of life.