MDs' Spouses Happy in Relationships

Physician's Money Digest, Spring 2013, Volume 15, Issue 1

The long, stressful hours that physicians log can put a damper on relationships if the high physician divorce rate is anything to go by. And, yet, most spouses/partners of physicians reported being satisfied with their relationships.

Time spent together is a strong predictor of relationship satisfaction, according to a recent survey. The more time physicians spend with their spouses/partners, the most likely the partner was to be satisfied with the relationship

In a Mayo Foundation survey of 891 spouses/partners of physicians, the vast majority (86.8%) reported they were satisfied with their relationship with their partner. However, they did report that their physician partner frequently came home irritable, too tired to engage in home activities or preoccupied with work.

In addition to providing demographic, relationship and work life information, the respondents also indicated whether they had seriously contemplated separation or divorce in the last 12 months and whether they would choose a physician as a spouse/partner again, knowing what they know now.

“The mean daily amount of time spent together with their physician partner appears to be a dominant factor associated with relationship satisfaction, overshadowing specific professional characteristics of the physicians’ practices, including specialty area, practice setting, and work hours,” according to the report. “This information may be useful to physicians seeking to nurture their relationships and may be informative to medical students and residents considering the potential implications of specialty choice on their relationships.”

Half of the respondents said they spent more than 90 minutes awake with their physician partner daily; however, 26.3% said they spend 45 minutes or less. Just 12.4% said they had seriously contemplated divorce or separation in the last year, but 80% said they would choose a physician as a partner/spouse again even known what they know now.

The greatest source of stress among families was the physician’s lack of time for family activities because of work responsibilities followed by the physician’s chronic fatigue and preoccupation with work-related issues while at home. Almost half (48%) of respondents said that their physician partner comes home from work irritable at least once a week.