Couple are compatible for now, but maybe not for the long run
Q: I am 23, just graduated college, and for the past four months I've been dating a great guy. He has a lot of wonderful qualities and we have a good time together, but I don't see any long-term potential because he's in the military and plans to make his career there. I admire his dedication and courage, but the life of an "Army wife" comes with a lot of responsibilities and issues that I am not willing to take on.
It doesn't help that my friends and family are not his biggest fans for various reasons (he's not a "young professional," didn't finish college, and comes from a more blue-collar background).
We may well break up before marriage ever becomes an issue. Do I stop looking so far ahead and focus on the present, or should I end the relationship? He knows I have some concerns, but we've been having so much fun together that he's really going to be blindsided if I bring this up.
A: This may seem like a live-in-the-moment vs. plan-ahead question, but it's not. The issue is whether you're well-served by the way you're evaluating "long-term potential."
For the record, I don't believe in "good" or "bad" reasons to break up. If you don't want to be an Army wife, then (please) don't be an Army wife. If you think the way he holds his fork is a deal-breaker, then by all means, walk, even if that feels shallow or stupid or cruel. You're the one who has to live with your choices, so it's your voice you heed.
But you do need to make sure your voice is trustworthy. Right now your voice is conflicted, which suggests you don't really know what you want. Any decisive action would be premature.
You may ultimately find your goals are incompatible, but your "having so much fun together" is a powerful statement of emotional compatibility, especially when it's packaged in a courageous, dedicated "great guy."
The military career, the unfinished degree, the non-"professional" job and your skeptical family all matter too, of course — like I said, if they matter to you, then they matter.
However, they differ in one significant way from those "wonderful qualities": What he chooses, and even how you feel about those choices, is more subject to change than who he is. Please stop dwelling on what you think you want, and attune yourself instead to what you really need.
Mom troubled by son's rush to marry
Q: I know I risk sounding like a meddlesome mom, but I'm utterly heartbroken that my 22-year-old son has vowed to marry a girl he met in college less than a year ago. I suspect she is against premarital sex for religious reasons, and he thinks he has to marry her for their relationship to progress.
My son has closed off from me entirely since I expressed my concern. He thinks I hate his fiancee, which actually isn't true — I think she's fine, just that this engagement is a mistake. Do I have any choice besides butting out?
A: You can state to him clearly that you like his fiancee; that you questioned the haste, not the person; and that you acted in haste yourself by judging him so reflexively. You can say you're sorry, and hope he's mature enough to forgive.