Published in American Urological Association News - April 2019

Reprinted with permission from AUANews, volume 24, issue 4, 2019; © American Urological Association 2019.

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Marital and Intimate Relationships

According to the 2019 Medscape Physician Lifestyle and Happiness Report, urology was one of the specialties with the happiest marriages! In contrast, the 2019 Medscape National Physician Burnout, Depression and Suicide Report also listed urology as the specialty with the highest burnout. When it comes to wellness these days, I do my best to keep up on all of the literature. Just like we have learned to critique the science of every journal article, I read all of these articles with a skeptical eye and look for the learning points. What would I change in my life and practice? How can I improve?

Applying Coaching Principles

When I got the opportunity to share a viewpoint on marital health, I must admit I felt a significant amount of angst. I have now been married for over 18 years but being married to a busy orthopedic trauma surgeon is not easy. Even more importantly, one of the many values that I share with my wife is that our personal life should be substantially private. How can I be of value to my fellow surgeons with that kind of basis? Then I remembered that I got my introduction to this amazing organization through my 2016 AUA annual meeting presentation “Professional Coaching and Personal Development.” While some of the most inspirational coaches are those that lead by personal example, and many of the most successful coaches are those that have demonstrated their expertise in their specific field, the truly amazing thing is that the core principles of coaching are the most likely to succeed in any coachee.

Offering Perspective and Opportunity

Professional coaching is not counseling or therapy. The coaching I provide in this column is not mentoring or advising. The coaching that would benefit most of you in your personal development or marital and intimate relationships will typically encourage you to

  • Explore situations and challenges to guide self-inquiry and self-reflection

  • Maintain objectivity and encourage alternative interpretations

  • Identify potential barriers and possible solutions

  • Identify goals and potential actions

Taking Proactive Steps

As the reader coachee, you would benefit to avoid defensiveness, focus on learning, set realistic goals, and be accountable for your actions and next steps. Regarding your significant other, below are a few relationship coaching questions.

Strengthen trust and commitment: What do you do in the best interest of, and for the benefit of, your partner? What will you do “for better or for worse” to cherish your partner’s positive qualities for your lifelong journey together?

  • Manage conflict: How do both of you manage natural conflict, and how can you do that a little better?

  • Show appreciation and respect: How do you express your fondness and admiration in your relationship, and how can you do that a little better?

  • Take a positive approach: Despite the challenges in your relationship, how can you maintain or redirect problem solving and repair harm done with a positive attitude?

  • Find quality time and joyful small moments: Despite the time demands of your career, how can you improve the quality of time together, savor the small moments of joy and make each other’s dreams come true?

These are just a few proactive steps we can take that can make a huge difference in our relationships. Being a practicing surgeon can be taxing on a relationship. However, a little effort can go a long way in strengthening your relationship for the long haul. Stay well.