Friday, August 26, 2016

What's it like going out with a vet?

Are vets the best partners?

What’s it like to be the partner of a veterinarian? For fans of TV vets like Chris Brown, the answer is, “probably awesome”. But if you’re a vet this question might make you shudder. According to one e-Harmony post, vets “look cute in scrubs”, are patient, passionate, smart and big-hearted. According to an excellent retort to this post, scrubs and helpful personality traits all have their down side, and these aren’t often experienced as positive by partners of vets.
As blogger Once Kitten wrote, “veterinarians spend all day dealing with stressful situations and delivering bad news – if you want sympathy and understanding, date a therapist”.

This morning a colleague shared a post from the partnerof a veterinarian who is very frank about his marital woes, many of which are triggered by his wife's job. Specifically, he is concerned that out of work hours, people want to talk to her about their animals and she feels compelled to help. The author comes from a particular cultural background and his point of view is informed by this, but whether you’re religious or not, this post invokes something familiar about being a vet – and going out with one. The author of this post comes up with a novel idea, “the rule of five” – “You may not ask my wife a professional related question unless you have first talked to her that day about five other things.”

You can read the full post here. He does use the term lover liberally, and his wife doesn't get a say, but if you can handle that it may be worth a read. Despite some fairly significant cultural differences between myself and the veterinarian being written about, and my immediately defensive response which was "its never just one thing wrong with a relationship", I reflected on the suffering of significant others in my life. 

Not just the impromptu consults, at weddings, funerals, in taxis and Ubers, but the nights spent fretting about cases, the days I’ve spent being nice to clients then come home and just can’t think of anything to say, and the occasional surprise patient in the bathroom (one even laid an egg) (which I have to say was the highlight of that day for me but perhaps not those who share my bathroom).

Of course, I wanted to defend us too. Vets aren’t the only people whose jobs follow them after-hours, and I've been stood up for work-emergencies too (shouldn't we all just get in the habit of packing a good book in our bags?). Every relationship is different, and the blogger in question has a very specific perspective about relationships that doesn't reflect many people's realities. And would the rule of five genuinely help our relationships, or would it extend the impromptu consults? Aside from that, do we need some sort of relationship continuing professional development? I’m not quite brave enough to ask!