April 13, 2011 in Features

His identity will outlive vocation

Washington Post
 

Hi, Carolyn: 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 even 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. – Military girlfriend

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.

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.”

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.

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