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Wellbeing in partnership
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  1. Simon Toye

Abstract

Simon Toye is all too aware of the pressures of the veterinary profession, given his wife works in the field. But he wonders whether vets are sufficiently aware of how those pressures affect their partners, and of how they can work together on wellbeing.

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Simon Toye is a freelance writer. His wife, Penny, is a small animal vet at a Vets4Pets practice.

This section is supported by the VDS and is aimed at improving the efficiency and wellbeing of vets. Encouraging you to have a more balanced life outside of work.

As the husband of a busy vet, I am delighted that the profession is becoming much more aware of the importance of maintaining good mental health. But are you aware of how your job affects the wellbeing of the people closest to you?

My wife is an asset to the profession. One of the side effects of this, however, is that she brings her work home with her. By that I mean she is constantly thinking about her patients – although we have been known to hand feed various animals throughout many nights. Each case is discussed in minute detail, wondering if there is more to be done.

Her job is so consuming that she cannot make another decision – even a trivial one – after a day at work. I run her life, but not by choice. It takes its toll on me, day after day.

These things mean we need to work hard at supporting each other. We have three steps we take to make sure our relationship stays a healthy one, despite the pressures.

Listen

Understanding each other’s mental state is such an important tool in supporting wellbeing

We try to be honest with one another, as well as with our friends and family, about how we’re feeling – while listening to the other person too. Understanding each other’s mental state is such an important tool in supporting wellbeing and realising when cracks may be starting to appear.

Keep connected

No one person can satisfy all of our individual needs. You need to feel loved, whether by a life partner or by family members. You also need friends who make you forget all your troubles and allow you to escape, if only for a few hours. We try to make time for these people, and make sure the other person has time to stay connected to their social pool too. That way, we both reap the psychological benefits of healthy social lives.

Make time for fun

We try to ensure our lives aren’t just about hard work and stress by planning in fun things to do together. Those don’t have to be huge; it could just be having a night of board games or maybe a trip out. For us it’s going to new places. We regularly plan trips and have just returned from eight months travelling Asia. I know this is extreme and won’t be possible for everyone, but we also enjoy finding somewhere new to walk the dog. We jump in the car, drive in a random direction and see what we come across.

The key is to find what makes your relationship tick, no matter how big or small.

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