On the Side

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On the Side - October 2016

by Carol M. Shrader

Having three different children enrolled in three different colleges makes for some interesting – and non-stop – dinner conversation when everyone is home at the same time. One night in particular, the conversation took a turn that still makes me chuckle.
Claire was telling her dad how much her friend had enjoyed shadowing him at work when Wade remembered another student at her college who had requested to shadow and asked her if she knew him.
She was adamant that this student not be allowed to shadow her father. We began to gently probe and question until reaching the conclusion that the young student did indeed seem to be lacking in some social skills, but perhaps it would be harsh to prevent him from shadowing and learning more about a potential career path.
With a deep sigh, Claire admitted that would in fact be harsh before adding, “But I just think people should only get to shadow you if they are worthy.”
Worthy. I couldn’t quit thinking about the word, so I looked it up.
Webster’s defines worthy as deserving effort, attention, respect.
Of course she used it correctly – she is a word-smith! Claire wants her dad to only be shadowed by people who deserve respect and attention and the effort he would undoubtedly make to show a student around.
She was feeling protective of her Dad’s time and energy. I am not sure how her screening criteria should fall out. But I love that she feels so protective of Wade.
And perhaps it gives me pause just a little to wonder if I do as much as I can to protect his time, his energy, even his space by choosing worthy ways to spend our hours away from the hospital.
Oh dear ones, I hope you can hear me when I gently remind you that our marriages often look different than others around us. Early in our medical marriage we were counseled that Wade should leave work at work. The older gentleman even suggested that Wade take the bus home so that he knew he would be home at a certain time and could decompress during the ride.
Wade and I chuckle about it today but the truth is, at the time the comment packed some punch. I honestly DID want a set schedule that I could count on every single day. And the fact that this family had that made me a bit envious. I imagined a job where Wade could in fact leave work at work. But the reality is that Wade couldn’t then – and can’t now -- leave a young patient on the operating table just because the last bus was about to run. Nor can he ignore calls from the “office” because someone’s life could hang in the balance.
This is not unique to my husband as you know. This is more than likely true for yours as well.
And knowing that means we recognize and remember that quality time often has to trump quantity and therefore it matters even more that we take a cue from my college kid and choose the worthy activities.
I would love to offer criteria, guidelines, a rule book for what is worthy and what is not. But sadly, we are 20 years into our medical marriage (counting medical school of course!) and I can still get this wrong as often as I get it right. I want to do all the things with my favorite guy at my side. Therefore, all the things seem worthy to me but far less so to my guy. But here is what I can tell you: having a frank and honest conversation together will help you immensely in putting some parameters in place. My husband uses so much of his social interaction tank during clinic days that he needs to spend some time at home with us re-filling on those nights. But there are other nights that are just fine for social interactions. Your husband may need time in a social setting after work to re-fill his tank. The key is to talk, discuss and plan accordingly.
I dug around and found about 90 mentions of the word "worthy" in the Bible. (Translations vary so this number can vary as well.) Clearly this is an important concept.
My favorite is Philippians 4:8:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  (NIV)
Don’t miss the fact that this could be our very own rulebook we were looking for. Not so much for how to plan our time with our husband – but how to think when we are having to sacrifice his presence perhaps, in order to protect his space. I am pretty sure today, the author would have included a “Finally, brothers and sisters, walk away from social media, and rather think on whatever is true…..”
And then, as a reminder of the one who is truly and wholly worthy:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 4:11 (NIV)
I might need this one plastered around my house- not only is it a praise that should be on our lips all day every day but it is also a wonderful reminder that our worthy God created our men and wired them according to His plan.  He knows exactly what the right formula is for protecting your husband's time in a way that fills his emotional, physical, and spiritual tank.  Allow Him to guide you as you work to do the same. 
Carol M. Shrader

Carol Mason Shrader is wife to her wonderful Wade who requires about 250,000 less words a day than she. She is mom to three college sophomores and one amazing fifth grader – all of who require the approximately 2 million words a day that she requires. Nothing makes her smile as much as having them all in our mini-van chattering about their day/week at once!

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