How Working as a Nurse Practitioner Affects My Marriage (for the Better!)

It's inevitable that whatever career path you choose will affect your relationships. From your friends and family to your spouse and kids, your job impacts your daily life and therefore the time you spend with others. Sometimes this impact is positive, other times it's not. Needless to say with my husband owning a business and my work in the emergency department, we adhere to a non-traditional schedule around our house. 

It's inevitable that things don't always happen exactly as planned, or that pulling a string of overnights at the hospital leaves me feeling a little bit grumpy on occasion. In our three short years of marriage, I have noticed a few ways that my career as a nurse practitioner makes my marriage look different than many of my other friends' relationships with their husbands-from the outside looking in, anyway. Here are a few of my observations.

A non-traditional schedule forces us to be flexible

Many people are perplexed when I try to explain my work schedule. Essentially, my schedule can be described as "there is no schedule". I work days, nights, evenings, weekends, and holidays- all in an unpredictable pattern. I may have a month where my shifts are evenly spaced, then another when my hours seem crammed into one part of the month over another. It's beautiful. 

While most of my friends view it as a negative, my non-traditional schedule (and accommodating employer) allows my husband and I flexibility on our time together. There's no routine rut to for us to fall into. We may be able to go on vacation without taking PTO. We might be able to meet for lunch on a random Wednesday afternoon when I happen to be off work. The fact that I often work weekends means that when I am able to have a Sunday on the couch at home it is that much more enjoyable. Our flexibility around scheduling trickles down to other aspects of our life. It forces us to be a bit more laid back and go with the flow as a couple when faced with life's daily challenges.

Time apart leads to individual independence

I am by nature, a very independent person. But, given my work as a nurse practitioner I think my husband and I have become even more so, in a way, at least. When I am working nights or weekends, he is free to pursue personal hobbies and interests that might not involve me. Even if it happens to be ordering a pizza and vegging out in front of the TV, or working late into the night on his laptop at the kitchen table, he's free to do what he wants for the evening. 

On my end, I have a lot of free time during the week given the fact that I work a lot of nights and evenings. This has forced me to be OK with some alone time during the day and also opened the door to new opportunities. I have taken tennis lessons (and quit tennis lessons) and picked up kickboxing. The idea for MidlevelU was even born out of thinking up something to do on lonely weekday afternoons. While working schedules that don't always match up certainly has its disadvantages, taking time for individual pursuits leaves us personally fulfilled and more appreciative of our together moments. 

We've found financial freedom

I'm sure most working couples will tell you that living on a double income is quite nice. Before I was married, even though I was making a good salary working as a nurse practitioner, I still felt the ever-present background stress of supporting myself financially. In a marriage where both of us work, that stress has dissipated. We back each other up. If something should happen to either of our jobs, we would be OK. 

As a nurse practitioner, I am able to earn a significant income whether I work part-time, full-time or PRN. Having flexibility within my career path as well as the potential to make a significant contribution to our household bottom-line mitigates potential financial stressors. The fact that I can pick up a few shifts if needed, or scale back but still earn a good income should our situation change, gives us great freedom as a couple in planning for our future. It opens up doors we might not have otherwise had and makes looking ahead fun!

We've developed a more even day-to-day partnership

I wouldn't classify myself as a feminist, but I wouldn't say I love the idea of the 1950's housewife either. With both my husband and I working, and especially given my crazy emergency department hours, we've developed a good partnership when it comes to managing the aspects of daily life. For example, when I'm working the weekend, he steps up and mows the lawn so the time I do have at home on Saturday isn't spent doing yard work. On the flip side, I often have weekdays off so I get the chores done in anticipation of free time spent together once he gets home from work. 

For the most part, we don't have designated 'jobs' at home, but flow with our schedules. Some weeks he does more around the house than I do, other times it's the other way around. We've developed a sort of system that adapts to accommodate whoever has the busier week- and I like it!

The foundation of a solid marriage is of course choosing the right person. But, having fulfilling careers and taking advantage of their unique offerings helps make daily life together flow much easier. Here's to many more fun and exciting years ahead!

 

How does working as a nurse practitioner affect your marriage? Do you feel your career has a positive or negative affect on your relationship?

 

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Comments

Congratulations on your wedding! 

Erin Tolbert

Loved reading your observations on this topic. I'm about to get married to a NP in a few months and you've provided some interesting insights for me to note and learn from for future. I do agree with your view about having a spouse with a non-traditional work schedule as something of a positive. It lends a certain spontaneity to an otherwise predictable schedule.
Warm Regards and Thanks!

Vir Singh