I have been a nurse for almost six years and married for just as long.
Truth be told, I have a love-hate relationship with the profession. I hate working overnight and the work can be very stressful, but the flexibility is awesome — and then of course there’s the fact that I get to witness, you know, birth.
However, over the years, I’ve come to appreciate a lot of the lessons that nursing has taught me. It’s been both a stress on my marriage and a blessing, providing us with a means to financial security while my husband finished school and a flexible schedule that has allowed me to be the primary stay-at-home mom that I wanted to be to our three children. But working night shifts, leaving my husband alone for sometimes 24 hours at a time, and recuperating from some of the emotions that hit hard on my psyche, with a profession that names caring as a foundation, isn’t exactly a soothing balm on the relationship front either.
Nursing has plunged me into what feels like the heartbeat of the world — full of life, drama, and packed lunches and hurried kisses out of the door as I said goodbye to my husband and daughter who were settling in for the night. It’s sometimes hard to turn off your brain, which is set on caring for your own family all day (or night), and head into work a shift that is completely about caring for another’s family all day (or night) as if they were your own.
It’s true that nursing is definitely not for the faint of heart.
I’ve been pooped on, puked on, witnessed birth, death and everything in between, and through it all, I can’t help but realize something:
That the tenants of working as a nurse have a surprising amount in common with what it takes to maintain a relationship. From lessons on teamwork to celebrating the everyday moments that make a love last, it’s taken me six years of marriage and six years of working as a nurse to see that the profession that makes my bread and butter might have been teaching me more than I knew about love all along.
8 things nursing taught me about relationships 1 of 9
Image via MAURO CATEB/Flickr
Teamwork rules 2 of 9
Honestly, the #1 lesson of working as a nurse is that teamwork rules, which is true in any relationship. Not only is supporting your team member important because it shows that you are willing to pitch in and help when needed, but you never know when that favor will be returned. Teamwork really is the only way to survive working in a hospital — or living in a long-term relationship. A helpful attitude begets a helpful attitude, right?
Image via COD Newsroom/Flickr
Life is made of the big … and small moments 3 of 9
Spending 12 and 1/2 hours a day with patients, you hear a lot about their lives, and what's interesting is that the moments that stand out are often those you wouldn't always think twice over. Someday, if I wind up spending my last days in the hospital, I hope to have all the memories — large and small — with the one I love.
Image via Dark Dwarf/Flickr
A loving environment matters 4 of 9
It might sound like a small thing, but I'll never forget the woman I cared for whose husband took such great pains to decorate her room with touches of the home they had shared for so long. Her favorite blanket, scented candles, and pictures of them, wind-swept and sun-tanned together, were a living display of their love ... even when the doctors told him she would never come home. Creating an environment together that you can make memories and a life together with is so important.
Image via PHUDE-nyc/Flickr
Holidays are just days 5 of 9
Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter — healthcare workers don't exactly get the holidays off. But I love the ingenuity of nurses who have Santa come a day early or make anniversaries when they can. They know it's not the date on the calendar that matters — it's spending time with the ones you love.
Image via Malia Karlinsky - Yesterday on Tuesday/Flickr
Everything bad happens at 3 AM 6 of 9
From breakups to sicknesses to deaths, it's a fact of nursing life that stuff hits the fan at 3 AM. And it's not usually happy stuff. So you might just want to be on the lookout for that dark hour in your relationship ...
Image via JoshSemans/Flickr
Food can solve almost anything 7 of 9
That being said, there are lot of things that can be solved with food. After a hard day of work, any nurse appreciates a nice, hot meal. It's amazing how much one's outlook can change after a full stomach. Handy advice for the next big fight ...
Image via British Mum/Flickr
Everybody just wants to be heard 8 of 9
A little bit of listening can go a long way in making someone feel loved and appreciated. And that's important, no matter how large or small your relationship with that person is.
Image via US Army Africa/Flickr
Never raise your voice in a stressful situation 9 of 9
In the midst of a high-stress situation, it never helps anyone or anything to raise your voice. Keep your cool, get through the situation, and then, when everything has calmed down, talk through it calmly, cooly, and honestly. Don't be afraid to admit your own mistakes and learn a thing or two for next time.
Image via Amy the Nurse/Flickr
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