I'm 21, and my boyfriend is 24. We've been in a courtship for the past nine months, and it's been amazing — we have grown so much individually and with each other in God's goodness. God has blessed me so much with this relationship!
I'm at a fork in the road where I can choose one of two careers: speech pathology or law school. To be honest, there is nothing in life that I ever wanted more than having a family. However, law school and a career in law has always been one of my passions. Should I choose the field which I'm so passionate about, or speech pathology — which is something I wouldn't mind doing, and it'd be much better for family life?
What makes this more complicated is that my boyfriend is in medical school. I know that law school would put a lot of strain on our relationship and might cause us to do long-distance for a couple years. I'll be 26 when I graduate from law and have to start working — so I'd be almost 30 before I could even begin thinking about kids.
There are so many sacrifices.
Ultimately, I could just choose not to get another degree at all, but I always imagined myself as getting something more than a Bachelor of Arts. I've been indecisive about these two options for the past few years (and prayed all throughout this time), and it's been a huge thought in my mind since I've been together with my boyfriend.
I think the only reason I'd choose speech is for family and my future husband. Is that right, or would I be banking too much on this relationship? Do I give up my career desires? My heart tells me he is the one, but I want to be cautious at the same time. I always thought that God would make my life fulfilled by giving me an amazing career. But could He have something totally different in mind for me?
Your question raises many questions in my mind: Have you and your boyfriend discussed marriage? Has he proposed? Does he have an opinion on which higher education or career option he thinks you should choose? Has he asked you to fit into his future plans?
I once attended a life-changing seminar conducted by some friends from Capitol Hill Baptist Church and hosted by Boundless, called "Friendship, Courtship and Marriage." Granted it would have changed my life even more if I'd attended it back when Steve and I were just starting to hang out as friends. But even now that I've been married nearly a decade, the material challenged my own beliefs about how best to form a marriage while reinforcing my commitment to encouraging singles to marry well.
One of the points that stood out in my mind was when the speaker, Scott Croft, said that if you can't see yourself married to the person you're dating within six months to a year, you shouldn't be dating. Similarly, if you're not currently dating, but thinking of starting a dating relationship, you should also be in the place where you can envision yourself getting married in six months to a year.
I think this timeline is extremely relevant to your situation and the questions you're wrestling with.
He also said logistics shouldn't trump getting married. That includes school, jobs, apartment leases, caterers, florists and all the rest. Assuming you're of marrying age, these things are secondary and should be fit around getting married.
If you haven't had the conversation about marriage with your boyfriend, I think it's time. At the very least, you need to know what his intentions are so that you can make plans for your further study accordingly. If he says he's ready to get married, and married to you, your plans will look a lot different than if he says he's just content to keep on dating indefinitely.
If he says marriage, then I'd say make that the priority, and you can work out your future education plans as husband and wife.
If he asks, "Why change a good thing?" then you need to decide if you're happy with good or willing to hold out for great. Dating's only good insofar as it moves a couple toward marriage — and gets them there in a timely and God-honoring way. Dating for its own sake, recreationally and without the goal of marriage, however, is a modern concept that will undermine what you say you've wanted most in life: having a family.
Copyright 2006 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.