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Consider what's best for both of you

Consider this: 'What's best for us,' not 'What's best for me'

Q: I gave up med school because my fiance was scared of the massive debt and uncertainty about where we live. I've wanted to be a doctor since I was young. Now how do I stop resentment from creeping in? Thanks!

Sacrifice Is Worth It??

A: You pre-empt resentment by finding another vocation-plus-life-purpose combination that's as appealing to you as being a doctor, or more.

If a good-faith effort to find a new calling comes up empty, then you tell your fiance you made a mistake and would like to pursue a career in medicine.

It's not only possible, but also necessary, to factor his concerns into your decisions without giving up a large part of who you are.

That is, unless your fiance is asking too much. You have to consider that possibility; hoping it will go away just means you'll have a bigger problem to deal with later. If he sees himself as your true life partner, then he won't want you to sacrifice your identity in service of his sense of security.

I do realize that last line echoes the rightly despised "If you loved me, you'd (give me what I want)" construction. But think of it as "If you loved me, you'd want what's best for both of us" — not uttered as a shakedown, but kept in mind as the standard for a loving partnership.

And with that in mind, please do some research, if you haven't already, on ways to get a medical education that don't involve crushing debt; the National Health Service Corps comes immediately to mind (hrsa.gov), as does training to become a physician assistant. The military is also a path to a paid medical education, if your fiance is willing to buy financial security for the price of about as much geographic uncertainty as a career path can offer.

This is not a comprehensive list — your undergraduate college's career office is a good place to start for that — but instead an argument against capitulation. It's not your only option, and arguably not a viable one for a healthy marriage.

Absolute silence is best way to deal with unwanted exes

Q: What if you've said "no" and someone is still bothering you? My girlfriend has told her ex-boyfriend several times that she is seeing someone else and that she does not wish to be contacted. She has said it more emphatically each time, but when should she stop and . . . just ignore him? Call the cops? I really don't know, but I'm highly creeped out that he won't buzz off.

Saying No

A: Every time she talks to him — even to say, "I do not wish to be contacted" with super-duper-wowee emphasis — she proves to him that all he has to do is persist, and he will get her attention.

In other words, assuming she doesn't want his attention (ahem), she's already well past the point where she needs to stop responding to him. It's a two-step deal: (1) She says, "Do not contact me again"; (2) She never again responds to his calls, e-mails, texts, appearances on her doorstep, sky-writer messages, whatever else he tries. Absolute silence.

If she thinks persistence is flattering or ignoring him is "mean," urge her to read The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. And to document the ex's attempts at contact, just in case.

Consider what's best for both of you 11/23/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 1:23pm]

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