Q: I'm close to graduating with a doctorate degree in a lucrative field. About a year ago. I met my boyfriend, whom I love dearly. We have a great connection and have started talking about marriage. However, he doesn't have a college education. He was in the military and had planned to make a career of it until he was medically discharged following injuries he sustained in Afghanistan. He currently draws enough disability to live on, but he works full-time at a fairly menial job for additional money and something to do. He enjoys it, there's room for advancement, and he has a desire to move up. My friends keep telling me that he's nothing but a freeloader waiting so that he can enjoy the bounty of my hard work. A close friend says there is no reason for him not to pursue higher education, and his failure to do so indicates he's a poor excuse for a human being. Because we're in a long-distance relationship, my friends don't know him well. His friends have suggested to him that I'm going to dump him once I obtain my degree. I don't have a problem with the fact that he doesn't have a degree. I would support him if he decided to pursue college, but we're both 30, and he doesn't seem interested. If we were to get married, we agree he would stay employed. Is this relationship doomed? My parents really like him and seem on board for the marriage.
A: Your boyfriend sounds like a keeper; it's your friends you might want to get rid of. That's a nauseating level of arrogance and ignorance if they think that by pursuing university degrees they were doing something superior with their lives while your boyfriend was risking his. They need to climb down from their ivory tower, get out in the world and discover that there are successful, interesting people who lack a degree — and disappointed, fatuous ones who have strings of them. Your friends barely know your boyfriend; to them he's just a collection of stereotypes. (His friends, meanwhile, are worried that you're out of his league.) But the people who do know you two — your parents, and, well, the two of you — think you're potentially great partners. Even though your boyfriend draws significant disability, it's commendable that since he's able to work, he chooses to (in general, vets' disability payments do not preclude employment). If he is willing to find work anywhere, the two of you will have lots of flexibility when it comes to weighing your juicy job offers. Don't let your friends' ugly judgments worm their way into your brain. Then if you two have children and you want to maintain your demanding career, you could be the envy of your friends if the bulk of the child care is done by the bravest, strongest, most fun dad around. — Slate.com