When you work full time you are apart from your partner for about 40 hours each week. If you work in different sectors, like me and my husband do, you’ll might be curious what their daily grind involves. I decided to invade my other half’s workplace and find out!
My husband and I work in very different sectors. He is a dentist while I performed in musical theatre and then switched to broadcast journalism. When he was studying for a serious career that involves diagnosing oral health issues, designing treatment plans and extracting teeth, I was probably still perfecting my jazz hands on stage!
Having a partner who does similar work to you must have its benefits. I expect you could give each other better support during stressful times. But we are a classic case of ‘opposites attract’.
Every marriage book, councillor and expert says that communication is key for a happy marriage. I like to think we’ve got this down… especially since we’re newly weds and there are no sobbing little Gray sprogs that we’ve brought into the world yet!
But no matter how much I probe David with questions, I will never fully understand his day-to-day reality unless I actually spend some time experiencing it.
So, on a rainy Monday morning in August 2015, dressed in unfamiliar baggy blue scrubs, I turned up at a London dental practice ready to investigate!
I thought David’s colleagues might find it awkward that I was tagging along. Honestly, I felt a little embarrassed now this ‘cute’ idea of mine was becoming reality! But actually David’s boss and nurses all seemed genuinely pleased that I was interested in their work. He told each of his patients that I was a work experience student, to explain why this random woman was peering into their mouths.
Personally, I’ve never really liked visits to any clinical place. Hospitals, doctors and dentists all make me a little nervous. It’s because injections and the sight of blood has always made me feel faint. Couldn’t even watch Casualty growing up, ketchup though it may have been!
I soon found out that injections are routine for David. Many patients need local aesthetic to ensure numb mouths during extractions, large fillings or root canals. In the practice I thought I would totally humiliate myself, and my husband, by passing out! Thankfully I got used to the sight of the needle and saw it actually didn’t seem to cause much pain. It’s the thought of it more than the reality.
I suspected that accompanying David to work would lead to the realisation that I could never be a dentist. I don’t think I can tolerate patients’ smelly breath, blood and the years of difficult exams to get qualified! But I’m so glad I spent time at work with David. Now I’ve been in a practice for more than a check-up I feel like, had I been ok at science and a heck of a lot cleverer, I might have considered it as a career.
The main point of doing this though was to understand David more. Now I’ve seen his work place, what’ve I learnt?
We’re a pretty close couple but I can honestly say that I find my husband even more intriguing now that I’ve seen him at work. I don’t think it would be an overstatement to say that some of the first date spark came back again. I saw another side to him that was different to the guy in the jeans that I hang out with at the weekend.
Thankfully, there were no arguments, only one fierce glare as I forgot I wasn’t an expert and tried to interpret one of his foreign patients (who he could understand perfectly well thank you very much… oops).
I saw him do what he gives the majority of his time to, the thing he has specialised in and has been refining. It is strange that I have known him for years and felt like we are so close, yet there was this whole world, from Monday 9am until Friday at 6pm, that I was in the dark about.
Now when he talks about crown fits, wisdom tooth extractions and root canals, I actually do know what they are. Rather than just nod and change the subject I can actually show interest when he talks about the finer details about his day and ask the right questions.
I also understand why I should floss between my teeth a few times a week; I don’t think he’ll need to nag me to do that anymore. Clear images of dark, decaying teeth are engraved in my mind now!
It was really cool to get to know all his colleagues. I thought they’d feel like I was a nosey wife and that I might get in the way. But actually, they enjoyed having someone new there and I think they liked getting to know me too.
I can’t see ‘Take you wife to work week’ catching on any time soon, but popping in to your other half’s office for an an hour or so is something I’d definitely recommend!