Tuesday, August 9, 2016

How to Survive as a Dental School Wife

As I sit here in the beginning of our (I say "our" because when one of you is in dental school, you both are in dental school) fourth year of dental school, I look back and think about all of the struggles, all of the joys, and how fast it really is going by. As they say with children, the days are long, but the years are short. This is so true for dental school. Four years is such a long time, but in the realm of a lifetime, it is such a short journey. We have 9 months left of dental school, which means 9 months left in this apartment that we are in, possibly 9 months left of San Antonio, 9 months to decide where we will live next, 9 months of trying to find a job, and 9 months until we will never be in school again! I just can't believe that we are so close to the end. I didn't think we would ever get to this point. Through these four years we have learned a lot, grown a lot individually, and grown a lot as a couple.

For those wives (or husbands) that may just be starting dental school or for those that are in the middle of it, I just wanted to give you a list of ways that I have survived being a dental school wife!

1. Just know that it is only 4 years and everyone can do anything for four years. In the first year, you will think that this is so new and exciting and that you are so happy that your husband got into dental school. And then years 2 and 3 you will start thinking, "man, this will never end. I'm so sick of it!" And now that we are in year 4 I just keep thinking, "we are so close, I can taste it!"
2. Support your husband. I know this one goes without saying, but it can be hard to do sometimes. You need to know that going into this, he will have to do a lot of lab work after school, a lot of paperwork when he starts seeing patients, a lot of tests to study for, and a lot of patients to call. If you have your mind set on the fact that he will be gone longer than the 8-5 of the school day, it will be easier to cope with the fact that he seems to always be late. Know that he wants to be home with you, but he needs to get that work done.

3. Cook him dinner and do his laundry. Don't get me wrong, you don't need to do this every single night, but if he is having a tough day or week, this will tell him that he can focus on school and that you can take care of the rest. I know that for most of you wives, you will be working also, so taking care of all of the housework can't be only one person's job. I would just suggest that you both decide who will do each household chore and stick to it. We have it where I do the cleaning and laundry, he does the dishes and we both do the cooking.
4. Go to the lab with him. When he has lab work to do after seeing patients or in his first few years of school, go to the lab with him. It might not be the most fun, but at least you are spending time with him. It also takes stress away from him because he knows that when y'all are separated, you are more frustrated with him being gone for so long. Lastly, when you go with him, you learn the things that he is doing and can relate to him more when he is telling stories.
5. Be his patient when he starts clinic. This one is just fun for him. This shows him that you care about him and trust him with your mouth. It has been fun for us when I get to come in for a cleaning because it allows us to spend more time together and it shows his friends that you support him. And hey, its cheap dental care for you!
I found these teeth on my bedside table...WHAT? 
6. Get a drawer for "dental stuff." You will undoubtably find dental stuff everywhere! We have fake teeth, real teeth, dental trays, and molding stuff everywhere. I learned early on that we just need to have a drawer for his stuff so that he would stop asking, "have you seen___?"

7. Get a pet (or 3 like we did). This helps keep you busy and allows you to have someone to cuddle with when your husband is busy at school or pulling an all nighter studying for a test. Having our pets has helped keep me company while Andrew has been at school for extended periods of time. This has been one of the best things that I would say about surviving dental school for me.
My sweet niece.
8. Know that having babies will come. This is one thing that I have struggled with throughout all of dental school. I really want to be a mom, but in reality, having kids in dental school is just not what we thought would be the best for us. If you and your husband plan on waiting to have children until after he graduates, it is probably best if you don't keep bringing up wanting to have children every year. Again, this is not something I did successfully through all of dental school. You will see your family and friends start buying houses and start having children and that will be very difficult. It helped me know that our time was coming and that we just had to wait a little bit longer.
9. Find a hobby. Find a hobby that y'all can do together and on your own. Finding a hobby together allows you to have something to do together when you both have free time. We picked up racquetball as a hobby. It was actually something that we played together in college before we even started dating so it was fun to pick it back up during dental school. It is also important to find a hobby on your own so that when he is studying you have something to do. I have picked up blogging a little bit because it is something that I can do quietly while he is studying near by. It has also allowed me to document our time during dental school.
10. Allow him to have time to himself. Although this one seems like kind of a bummer (and it is sometimes), it is important for him to take some time to himself. He has been working hard all day and he doesn't want to come home to immediately do chores or even talk to you about deep things. Take this time to allow him to decompress after school and I promise that he will be ready to do some chores and talk to you.
We went to the circus for one of our date nights!
11. Find time for weekly date nights. This one has been huge for us. With my work schedule and his school schedule, we have always made sure that one night every week is spent doing something that we love to do together. Our weekly date nights usually involve dinner and either a movie or going shopping for things that we have been needing. This night every week is something that we both look forward to and has been really important in growing our relationship.
12. Have fun because it will be over before you know it. Like I said before, dental school really does go by fast, so have fun during it. You could look for every negative thing in dental school, but then these 4 years will drag on and it will just be miserable for both of you. These 4 years have been pretty brutal at some points and having to wait for everything because you don't have enough money has been frustrating, but after it's over, you will finally be able to buy the things that you have been wanting for the last 4 years. It is all worth it!

So here is just a list of the ways that I have survived dental school.  If you are just about to enter into this world as a dental school wife, congratulations! This is incredible for you and your husband! It is a long 4 years but it will be so worth it. Let me know if you have any questions!

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