Ask Mary Jo: Finances after marriage & compassion fatigue

Hi Mary Jo,

In a marriage, are the finances split or are they together? What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours?



This is an important question, and one you and your spouse should discuss early in the marriage. There is no one “right” way to manage money as a couple; what’s important is that you are transparent with your finances so both partners know what the plan is in managing it. Most couples have a joint account, where they equally share the money, or they keep separate accounts but share a joint savings account. This works well, especially if they have monthly budget meetings where you discuss big cost items that you want to purchase, such as a car or a vacation.

Hi Mary Jo,

I work at the hospital with critical patients. How do I cope better when things aren’t going well with them, so I don’t get depressed?

Thank you,



You bring up a very good question about “compassion fatigue,” which is stress that comes from caring too deeply, too often. When you see suffering and share the family’s grief, you empathetically experience their emotions. The most gifted health care professionals struggle with this type of stress so don’t lose heart. Caring deeply about your patients is a gift you bring to the families whose life you touch, but it’s important you remain resilient and balanced.

Begin to practice these suggestions multiple times a week, so you can continue to see and experience the joy in life and be there for your patients and their families during difficult times. 

  1. Find a group with other health care workers going through the same issues. Feeling connected with others in the same situation strengthens us.
  2. Increase your social get-togethers with people who are fun and have a joyful outlook on life.
  3. Keep your faith strong and try to attend a spiritual event at least once a week. Faith encourages resilience and trust.
  4. Exercise. A walk, gym work out, or yoga after work is a must.
  5. Eat healthy foods. Medicating with fried, salty, or sugary foods adds to feelings of sluggishness and depression.
  6. Allow yourself at least 20 minutes per day for quiet time. You can allow yourself to grieve during this time, journal, pray, or sit still in quiet meditation.