April 10, 2023

Married in Medicine: A Journey Worth Pursuing

Andrew Dakkak, MD, BS, MBA

Andrew Dakkak, MD, BS, MBAThe journey and commitment required to become a physician is a stressful and arduous undertaking. When that road is even more complicated because your spouse is also in medicine, we must master additional skills to achieve career success and marital happiness.

My wife and I started dating when I was a second-year medical student and she was in her first year, which led to a roller coaster ride of board exams, demanding clerkship rotations, anxious residency applications and stressful interviews … and now the demands of residency. At least one of us is always worried about an upcoming academic responsibility. That being said, two of the greatest benefits are celebrating career milestones and supporting each other during late call shifts.

Aside from our wedding day, the second-most meaningful and memorable moment in my life was my wife’s match day when she ended up in the same city for residency at her top choice in a field she had dreamt about and worked diligently toward.

We were fortunate to end up together in the same city in our preferred specialties: diagnostic radiology and obstetrics/gynecology. Each year, we make improvements in our relationship and lifestyle. As residents, time is our most precious resource, and our list of responsibilities seems to increase every year: overall nutrition as well as psychological and physical wellness, not to mention managing finances, coordinating vacations, growing closer as a couple, meal planning, and most recently — family planning (we’re expecting our first child in two months).

We’ve learned to divide our shared responsibilities based on who has the least time-intensive rotation, and our weekly date night helps us prioritize our most important relationship and keeps us committed to reconnecting and enjoying each other’s company. We optimize our budget and prepare for upcoming financial obligations with an Excel spreadsheet and outsource certain errands using Instacart and Uber Eats.

Another significant virtue we have learned to apply to our personal and professional lives is the concept of respect. The respect I have for obstetricians and gynecologists greatly increased after hearing about some of her tough experiences like fetal demise, emergent deliveries and postpartum complications.

From a relationship standpoint, our respect for each other has improved by becoming better listeners, encouraging each other to pursue individual and professional goals, and seeking out and understanding how and why we are feeling the way we do. We have learned to never use our words to criticize, condemn or complain because at the end of the day, we are both here to make one another the very best versions of ourselves and grow closer together.

I’d be mistaken if I said we’d figured out how to master all the tasks of marriage and residency. Nevertheless, the challenges we have faced to-date and the upcoming mountains we have yet to climb are lessons that only motivate us further to improve our crafts. Our meaningful relationship is the foundation of our career success, and as theologian Lynn H. Hough wrote in 1920, “Life is a journey and not a destination.”