MARRIED TO MEDICINE: An Intimate Portrait of Doctors' Wives by Carla Fine

MARRIED TO MEDICINE: An Intimate Portrait of Doctors' Wives

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A perceptive, modulated report on doctors' wives and how they cope with the peculiar conditions of their lives. Doctors' wives are a privileged group, but for many there is a conscious trade-off: financial security and prestige are seen as some compensation for the doctor's unpredictable schedule, emotional distance, and unequal needs. Many doctors' wives do most of the parenting, oversee the family finances, and entertain extensively for business purposes. Academic medicine and some specialties have always been less intrusive on family life (psychiatrists' wives are not even included in this study) but most doctors' wives have experienced the darker side: birthday parties interrupted by emergency surgery, sex lives repeatedly put on hold, sleep disturbed by 3:00 a.m. phone calls. Fine's conclusions are similar to those of Cynthia Smith (Doctors' Wives, 1980); but Fine, herself a doctor's wife, is working from interviews instead of questionnaire responses and her book, written in a smoother prose, gives a fuller perspective. Though aware of the disruptions which arise from the way medicine is practiced, she also gives weight to the character traits of the men who become doctors and the traits of the women they marry, in an effort to discover, for instance, why so many of these women have chosen to share their loneliness over drinks at the club instead of finding more fulfilling activity. Fine understands the stresses on medical marriages, but she recognizes that women have more options today and different motivations: younger wives especially seem less willing to spend their lives ""hibernating in an affluent cave"" or trading on reflected glory. Balanced and solidly based, this presents the lives of doctors' wives without overdramatizing the hardships or underestimating the strains.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1981
Publisher: Atheneum