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Divorcing in medical school

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tncx3m5

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I’m an MS2 who is considering filing for divorce from my partner. We’ve been married for a few years and this is a decision that I’ve considered very carefully from the personal, financial, and legal aspects. What I’m still uncertain about is the timing of a divorce given the demands of med school – in particular, with Step 1 coming up around the same time my divorce would be underway, and then rotations starting right afterwards. Although I anticipate that this divorce will be civil, it remains an incredibly painful and mentally distracting process.

I’d really like to hear the perspectives of people who’ve been through a similar experience. I have supportive friends and a therapist to help me work through the emotional impact of this decision, but none of them have personally been through it. Any advice or perspective from the post-divorce side is much appreciated.

(I know that a common concern for people in my situation is divorcing before graduation in order to protect future earnings potential. Although I don't want to drag things out until I graduate, that probably won’t be an issue in my case, as my partner is doing well financially and is unlikely to either seek or receive spousal support.)
 

Foot Fetish

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I'm sorry to hear about that, buddy. If you don't mind sharing, what was the cause of the divorce? Were you long-distance? I ask because I just got engaged and am about to start MS1.
 

tick_tock400

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I know of a peer who is divorcing. The situation is very difficult upon them and the divorce isn't going as smoothly as planned. Is it possible you could take some time off? Perhaps you could do some research in the meantime or something while all the paperwork is being settled. Sorry to hear about your predicament. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.
 
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OnePunchBiopsy

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    I've never been married so I can't completely understand what you are going though OP, sorry to hear about your current circumstances.

    Coming from a guy who ended a 3 year relationship, that for me was a lot of emotional stress in the midst of 3rd year. Seeing patients every day made life better, but I could not imagine having to study for Step 1 while going through it all. I imagine a divorce would be much harder to bear.

    Maybe consider not rocking the boat until the middle/end of 3rd year? IMO 4th year would be an ideal time since you may have away rotations to take you away from it all.
     
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    DokterMom

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    Consider how rocky your life is now and various practical aspects such as STEP 1, lease terms, spouse's 'busy season' or academic calendar, if such a thing applies. Then choose the best 6-month period (it will take at least that long) that is reasonably soon. If you're certain divorce is the right answer, don't procrastinate, because "I supported him/her through all four years of medical school" is a lot more persuasive (aka expensive) than "S/he filed for divorce in the middle of second year."

    If you are willing to play slightly more than fair, you can save a lot of time and anguish -- even money when you factor in legal fees. You take all of the medical school debt. S/he takes everything s/he came into the marriage with, all the wedding gifts from his/her family/close friends, plus half the assets accumulated together. I'm assuming no kids (?) and no owned property? Don't get sticky about who gets the apartment, engagement ring and/or the pets as those things can get nasty, and when things get contentious, they take a long time and drive up legal fees. I'm not saying to go so far as to be a doormat, as that can sometimes spark an angry "S/he's desperate to get rid of me!" reaction that can make things worse. If in doubt, do what is customary and usual in your state. Overall, maintain your sense of fairness, but meet him/her slightly more than half way.

    Find yourself an attorney that prefers to mediate and ask that attorney to recommend a few others with a similar mindset for your spouse. If the two of you can come to a conceptual agreement first, it'll minimize the pain and cost.

    Yes, divorcing is stressful. But it can also be very empowering. Best of luck to you --
     
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    tncx3m5

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    Thanks, everyone, for the supportive words and insightful advice. We don’t have kids or real estate, which makes some of the logistics easier.

    Foot Fetish – in our case, I can’t provide the kind of lifestyle (in terms of things like free time and living situation) that we had before. It’s made my partner very unhappy, and that in turn has bred in me both guilt about not being able to do more and resentment about feeling unsupported. Being the significant other of someone in medical training is not easy; they often have to be the bigger person, or make significant sacrifices, and the best we can give back in the immediate term is our love and appreciation. I don’t mean this as an indictment of either party, but sometimes it’s not enough.

    It’s funny, we’ve been long distance at some point, too, and I found that time as a couple easier. Since we saw less of each other, problems got put on hold. Once we were living together, though, many of our ongoing issues as a couple got magnified under the time constraints and stress of med school. If I can give any advice in turn, it would be to have an honest conversation now with your fiancée about how challenging this coming year could be and what you each need from the relationship. Continue this conversation as the year goes on and your perspectives adapt to your experiences.
     
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    Crayola227

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    It’s funny, we’ve been long distance at some point, too, and I found that time as a couple easier. Since we saw less of each other, problems got put on hold. Once we were living together, though, many of our ongoing issues as a couple got magnified under the time constraints and stress of med school. If I can give any advice in turn, it would be to have an honest conversation now with your fiancée about how challenging this coming year could be and what you each need from the relationship. Continue this conversation as the year goes on and your perspectives adapt to your experiences.

    This was my experience with LDR as well.
    Except, things were great when we were together.
    Except, when we weren't they were cheating.

    Anyway, best of luck to you. You got some good advice ITT.
     

    DO2015CA

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    Thanks, everyone, for the supportive words and insightful advice. We don’t have kids or real estate, which makes some of the logistics easier.

    Foot Fetish – in our case, I can’t provide the kind of lifestyle (in terms of things like free time and living situation) that we had before. It’s made my partner very unhappy, and that in turn has bred in me both guilt about not being able to do more and resentment about feeling unsupported. Being the significant other of someone in medical training is not easy; they often have to be the bigger person, or make significant sacrifices, and the best we can give back in the immediate term is our love and appreciation. I don’t mean this as an indictment of either party, but sometimes it’s not enough.

    It’s funny, we’ve been long distance at some point, too, and I found that time as a couple easier. Since we saw less of each other, problems got put on hold. Once we were living together, though, many of our ongoing issues as a couple got magnified under the time constraints and stress of med school. If I can give any advice in turn, it would be to have an honest conversation now with your fiancée about how challenging this coming year could be and what you each need from the relationship. Continue this conversation as the year goes on and your perspectives adapt to your experiences.

    This was pretty much my exact situation I was in. Doesn't even matter if you have the conversation because she will think she knows what she's getting into and alas she didn't. Haha
     
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    Crayola227

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    this is why you see so many people with professional degrees married to the same

    besides all the other obvious reasons, no matter how "independent" they are blah blah blah, the only person that can understand that level of career focus is someone who's also that focussed or has been
     
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    lymphocyte

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    I’m an MS2 who is considering filing for divorce from my partner. We’ve been married for a few years and this is a decision that I’ve considered very carefully from the personal, financial, and legal aspects. What I’m still uncertain about is the timing of a divorce given the demands of med school – in particular, with Step 1 coming up around the same time my divorce would be underway, and then rotations starting right afterwards. Although I anticipate that this divorce will be civil, it remains an incredibly painful and mentally distracting process.

    It’s funny, we’ve been long distance at some point, too, and I found that time as a couple easier. Since we saw less of each other, problems got put on hold. Once we were living together, though, many of our ongoing issues as a couple got magnified under the time constraints and stress of med school.

    I'm really sorry you're going through this. I went through something similar, and it frankly sucked. I was lucky enough to have a very amicable divorce. We were both in a major accident that made us fundamentally reevaluate what we wanted from life. Her heart just wasn't up to moving for residency or being mostly alone for the next 6 years or so--and I don't blame her in the slightest. People change. Sometimes they change into different people entirely. And that's okay. As much as Western culture hypes Forever Ever After, I don't see why the definition of a successful marriage should entail one or both of the partners dying. In fact, sometimes a successful marriage (or relationship) is getting the **** out of a bad one and learning from your mistakes.

    But it still hurt. I still felt lonely. I still felt resentful. I still felt embarrassed explaining things to people. Until I didn't. And then it felt like a breath of fresh air. New opportunities. And I felt stronger for it. You will make it through okay. And you are definetly not the only one who's been through this. Out of my clinical stream of 40 students, about 10 were married. 3 of the 10 got divorced. 2 probably should've gotten divorced. And 1 guy probably shouldn't have gotten married in the first place.

    @DokterMom's advice is completely spot on. If you're done, you're done. There's never a good time. Be pragmatic, but sometimes a toxic relationship can be even more distracting than a somewhat amicable divorce. And if she's feeling as unhappy as you suggest, then maybe she'll be just as keen to make a break. But be sure to get your ducks lined up before broaching the subject...

    Double check with your home PDs/PDs on SDN, but I'd imagine some time off for a divorce would be pretty understandable (if you felt like you needed it). A few months off would certainly seem better than bombing Step 1 or failing a clinical rotation.

    As an aside, LDRs are often a tremendous strain. And even if you live together, being in medical school sometimes feels like a LDR. Shoulder rubs, breakfast every now and then, folded laundry, cuddling up while watching something dumb, remembering not to put the bras in the dryer--little acts of affection, mutually-reciprocated over time are ultimately what bind couples together. Unfortunately, fear of loneliness sometimes keep couples together too, and that just sucks for everybody.

    I wish you the best of luck OP.
     
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    Crayola227

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    I'm really sorry you're going through this. I went through something similar, and it frankly sucked. I was lucky enough to have a very amicable divorce. We were both in a major accident that made us fundamentally reevaluate what we wanted from life. Her heart just wasn't up to moving for residency or being mostly alone for the next 6 years or so--and I don't blame her in the slightest. People change. Sometimes they change into different people entirely. And that's okay. As much as Western culture hypes Forever Ever After, I don't see why the definition of a successful marriage should entail one or both of the partners dying. In fact, sometimes a successful marriage (or relationship) is getting the **** out of a bad one and learning from your mistakes.

    But it still hurt. I still felt lonely. I still felt resentful. I still felt embarrassed explaining things to people. Until I didn't. And then it felt like a breath of fresh air. New opportunities. And I felt stronger for it. You will make it through okay. And you are definetly not the only one who's been through this. Out of my clinical stream of 40 students, about 10 were married. 3 of the 10 got divorced. 2 probably should've gotten divorced. And 1 guy probably shouldn't have gotten married in the first place.

    @DokterMom's advice is completely spot on. If you're done, you're done. There's never a good time. Be pragmatic, but sometimes a toxic relationship can be even more distracting than a somewhat amicable divorce. And if she's feeling as unhappy as you suggest, then maybe she'll be just as keen to make a break. But be sure to get your ducks lined up before broaching the subject...

    Double check with your home PDs/PDs on SDN, but I'd imagine some time off for a divorce would be pretty understandable (if you felt like you needed it). A few months off would certainly seem better than bombing Step 1 or failing a clinical rotation.

    As an aside, LDRs are often a tremendous strain. And even if you live together, being in medical school sometimes feels like a LDR. Shoulder rubs, breakfast every now and then, folded laundry, cuddling up while watching something dumb, remembering not to put the bra in the dryer--little acts of affection, mutually-reciprocated over time are ultimately what bind couples together. Unfortunately, fear of loneliness sometimes keep couples together too, and that just sucks for everybody.

    I wish you the best of luck OP.

    I agree except taking time off for divorce or break up will never be looked on favorably. Take it first hand. Avoid prolonging your grad date at all costs unless cancer car accident or research is involved.
     
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