Committing to a relationship for the long term is about compromises and shared goals, but is your partner's happiness more important than your studies? How far would you go in trying to be together permanently, and is it ever ok to give up on your education just because they won't wait for you to get your degree?
Is having a family more important than college, or would you regret making such a choice in a few years and end up leaving the relationship, too, because of resentment?
My friend Vicky has been engaged to her fiance, Shawn, for three months. They dated for one year and a half until he proposed to her.
When they met, Vicky was just starting college. She's still studying to attain her degree because she wants a better job than what she's earning, working part-time for now.
"My career matters a lot to me. And my parents supported me through it all. I don't work full-time yet, but I'm going to get a good job after I graduate. And my relationship has to be about that, too. I want my partner to be there for me and understand I have to do this for myself and for the future," Vicky said.
While they were dating and checking out different restaurants, her boyfriend didn't say anything about her studies. And whenever she mentioned she wanted to have her degree, he agreed and told her he was sure she would have a high salary after graduating.
"I liked that about him a lot. He wasn't trying to stop me from doing everything I could to have a successful career. That takes work and struggle, and I need a partner by my side. I want to be in a relationship where I feel valued and respected. I can't just be there as a mom. I need a lot more than that," Vicky said.
They kept seeing each other, and Vicky met her boyfriend's parents too. They were positive and happy to have her visiting as often as she could. At the same time, they told the couple not to rush with the next step in their relationship since Vicky was still too young to be a mom.
Shawn is eight years older than his girlfriend, so he already has a full-time job and earns enough to live comfortably. He has his own home, and after six months of dating, he asked his girlfriend if she wanted to live together.
"I thought about it for a while, but it wasn't something I wanted to do before getting married. And I wasn't ready for it at the time. I loved spending time with him and meeting for walks, dinners, lunch, or even to get groceries. But sharing our space and thinking about something more permanent was for an engagement and marriage, and our relationship wasn't there yet," Vicky said.
Shawn wasn't happy about her decision, but he agreed to wait. They saw each other at least four times a week, and they also spent a few weekends together.
Even if he had to focus on work projects, he usually got free afternoons, and he was annoyed when his girlfriend couldn't spend more time with him because she had to study or work in the evenings.
"I could tell he wasn't excited about waiting around until I was done, but there was nothing I could do. I told him our relationship would be that way until I graduated, and he said he could deal with it," Vicky said.
Three months ago, Shawn proposed to her. Vicky said yes and got excited about the ring as they talked some more about their wedding date. They will get married in one year, and they're already planning every detail.
"We don't want a very big wedding, but there will be almost one hundred guests anyway. There are flower arrangements to take care of, menus, invitations, the cake, and, of course, my dress," Vicky said to me.
While she got excited thinking about their life together, her boyfriend's behavior changed after he proposed. He started shouting at her when she told him they couldn't meet because she was studying and they had several arguments.
Shawn expects her to leave her degree and agree to have kids very soon. And if she won't do it, he's willing to reconsider his commitment to her.
"He won't wait for me to graduate to have kids; he wants me to stay home. Even now, before the wedding, he wants me to stop studying and be home with him. But I can't just give up on having a career when I'm so close to graduating. And it's not fair to ask me to do that. I thought what we had was different," Vicky said.
Her parents advised her to keep moving forward with her degree and let her fiance adjust to her pursuing her goals.
What do you think about this situation? Is it fair for Shawn to tell his fiancee to stop studying and dedicate all her time to him and to have a family because they're engaged and will get married soon? Should Vicky keep studying or put her relationship first and not focus on a job or a successful career?