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Should my boyfriend and I have the same level of education?

She is college educated. He only has a high school degree. Can it work out, despite there being but one college diploma between them?


I have a bachelor’s degree, and the guy I am interested in has a high school diploma and is successfully self-employed. I have a friend who says she would never date someone who was “uneducated” (without a degree), but this guy is intelligent, a voracious reader and committed to the Lord. Do you think dating or marrying someone with less education would be a barrier to the relationship?


We receive this question a lot at Boundless. And not surprisingly considering more women than men are attending college these days.”Women now make up 56 percent of the college population — and that number continues to rise. Within ten years, three million more women than men could be attending college.” From july-dec02/college.html. I think it’s critical to make the distinction between a man who is uneducated and one who didn’t graduate from college or achieve as many degrees as you did. Regardless of what your friend says, just because someone didn’t get a college degree does not make him uneducated.

There are many ways to get an education, college being but one of them. And the formality of going to college is no guarantee that someone is truly educated. Many schools today do little more than prepare their students for the workplace (and some employers argue they’re not even doing that well). There’s a lot more to developing your mind and intellect than learning how to make money for an employer.

I think the better question has to do with your intellectual compatibility. Are the two of you on the same, or similar, intellectual plane? Are you able to communicate at the same level about topics of shared interest? The way you describe this young man — “intelligent, voracious reader and committed to the Lord” — says a lot more to me than “graduated from college.” I know there are plenty of guys who made it through a degree program with lots of hours spent partying and few spent in the library growing their intellect.

Two other things to consider: Why did he forego college, and how does he feel about your education? Going to college is no guarantee you’ll get an education. If he decided to teach himself by reading great books and spent the four years building a business that some young men waste on frat parties, I’d say that’s worth more than college. But if a man didn’t go because he couldn’t get in, or thought it would be too hard or was tired of reading challenging books and learning, I’d say that’s a major red flag.

The second consideration is his attitude toward your degree. Does he affirm you in your learning and take pride in what you’ve achieved? Does he encourage you to keep growing in your knowledge and understanding? Or is he threatened by the fact that you’ve accomplished something he hasn’t? Does he avoid the subject of education or act agitated if it comes up? Again, those are red flags.

In the end, I think did he go to college? is the wrong question. That doesn’t mean his level of intellectual acumen doesn’t matter.

As Douglas Wilson writes in Her Hand in Marriage, in addition to the clear-cut biblical principles for marital compatibilityAnd as you weigh your intellectual compatibility, don’t forget to consider what the Bible does require for Christian marriage: fellow believers (1 Corinthians 7:39), a man able to provide for his wife and children (1 Timothy 3:11-13, 1 Timothy 5:7-8) and both man and woman sexually attracted to one another (1 Corinthians 7:3, Isaiah 61:10, 62:5, Song of Solomon). are the issues that fall under the heading of wisdom. Education is one of them. “Both the parents and the couple should consider things like cultural background, education and intelligence, calling, personality traits, etc. When it comes to such things, decisions should not be made impulsively.” Why? Because, as a woman in a biblical marriage, you will be required to submit to your husband (Ephesians 5:22-24). “A man is required to be the leader, and the woman is to respect him in that leadership,” Wilson writes. “What if there is a disparity in their abilities that will make this difficult?” (Her Hand in Marriage, p. 74).

This is not to say Christian women have to submit to all men, of course. After they leave the covering of their father, the Bible only requires that they submit to one man: their husband. So choose wisely. It’s not likely you’ll want to follow the lead of a man who is inferior in the realm of thinking, reasoning and decision making. College degrees notwithstanding, it’s essential that you marry a man you respect. Common sense says marry a man who is at least equal to you intellectually.



Copyright 2010 Candice Watters. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Candice Watters

Candice Watters is the editor of, a weekly devotional blog helping believers fight the fight of faith by memorizing Scripture. She is the author of Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen. In 1998, she and her husband, Steve, founded Boundless.


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