This week my wife Laura and I celebrated 25 years of marriage together. It hardly seems possible–wasn’t it just yesterday that we were a young couple fresh out of medical school and graduate school, ready to take on the world? Since those early days, we have created a beautiful life as a couple–three beautiful children, successful careers in speech pathology and family medicine, a nice home and existence for the two of us. People frequently ask me (as I query of older married couples) about what is the secret to a long, healthy and successful marriage, as if there is some mysterious formula to be gained or code to be accessed and deciphered. From my perspective, the reality is that there is no specific pathway to marital success; rather, it is a sense of love, loyalty and sacrifice to your partner and your family that is a sustaining force that strengthens and preserves relationships.
With the ever increasing demands of medical practice upon the time and energy of health care providers, I continue to worry about the effects of clinical practice upon relationships and personal well-being. Fortunately, it appears that in many physician and nursing circles, the concept of enhancing personal balance and mitigating burnout is becoming an increasingly important priority. Clinicians are finally garnering the courage to speak out when feeling overwhelmed and inadequate in their day-to-day work existence. The danger looms when we feel that we are in a vacuum, that everyone else is either doing fine or is too busy to support us when we are down or struggling. Worse yet, others will think less of us, or view us as weak in the midst of a personal crisis if we express our fears and inadequacies.
How do we help and bolster each other? Just like in a marriage–deep loyalty, committed love and unmitigated support for your partner. In this crazy personal and professional world we live in, please be a true and loving friend to someone in your life who truly needs it.