Question: I have been dating a great guy for seven weeks. We get along perfectly, like two peas in a pod. I have dated a lot of guys and have never felt a connection like I do with him. He feels the same way about me and we are seriously considering marriage.
The problem: I’m concerned he won’t be able to hold down a job. He got kicked out of medical school for bad grades and finally graduated from a professional school in a medical field after having to repeat a year. He got a wonderful residency, but lost it because he failed his boards. He is working as an assistant for a medical professional right now and plans to reapply for residencies and take his boards again.
I like him more than words can convey, but I’m worried he won’t be able to hold down a (decent) job or that he will be sued for professional incompetence. On one hand, “true love” should be able to handle any situation. On the other, I’m not sure if I’m strong enough to remain happy with a husband who struggles professionally.
The Panelists Respond
Your notion of true love appears to be an illusion of the romanticized version, typically portrayed in popular fiction and the media. Contrary to popular belief, love does not conquer all. Mature and true love blossoms from the growth of a planted seed of mutual respect and understanding.
I am not sure what sort of connection you feel for this young man, other than that you both seem to enjoy the company of one another. You list many of your concerns about him, even describing them in extremely negative terms.
People marry for a variety of reasons, depending on their stage in life and needs at the time. In a situation where two young people date for close to two months, it is common to consider marriage as the next juncture in the relationship. As the dating process evolves, it becomes natural to get caught up in the excitement and whirlwind of the emotional bonding progression. In eagerness to bring the relationship to the ultimate level of marriage, it is also common to make excuses for bothersome aspects of the person you are dating.
What I surmise from your letter is that not only do you not make excuses for this guy, but you articulate every possible fault, including strong adverse conjecture regarding his professional future.
As you must already know, there are no guarantees in life. In the case of shidduchim, where there are blind spots in the best of situations, there are zero guarantees. You appear to be an intelligent and determined young lady. Based on what you are writing about this guy, you feel that he is either not ambitious enough or academically incapable. With all that you are describing, it is clear that you will not be able to respect this young man as your husband, given the current and predictable future within your point of view.
You speculate about your strength in remaining happy being married to a man who is professionally conflicted. My response to you is that you already acknowledged the answer to your own question. I will further validate your acknowledgement and tell you that based on what you say, should you decide to marry this guy anyway, your resentment towards him will escalate for what he does not seem capable of in your eyes.
It is still fairly early enough within your relationship to openly disclose your concerns to this guy. In hearing how you strongly transmit your apprehensions, he will, in all probability, concede that in the interest and good of both of you, the relationship needs to be terminated.
A healthy marital relationship is a partnership based on unconditional love. No human being is perfect. However, possessing the capability of accepting the shortcomings of one another without doubt is the key to triumph.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com.
Man plans and G-d laughs. Life is so unpredictable and we all know there are no guarantees. How many stories have we heard of a guy who is in medical or dental school and three months after getting married he drops out because he just didn’t like it. He then becomes a successful plumber and his wife laments that she wanted to marry a professional.
You have certainly focused on a key ingredient in finding an appropriate marriage partner—finding someone with whom you can navigate life’s ups and downs. This issue with his educational struggles might be a perfect “test” (no pun intended).
To his credit, he does not appear to be lazy and has the desire to do something professional and may have the determination to do what he sets out to do.
Much of his educational/training history, which is consistently inconsistent, happened before he met you. I would suggest subtly making sure there is nothing more than perhaps an educational issue that may or may not be able to be corrected. Is this something that just occurred in medical school or did he have problems throughout life? Does he vacillate in his seriousness about what he’s doing? Does he struggle socially? Is he inconsistent in other areas in life?
What exactly was going on that affects his ability to be successful? He didn’t get into medical school by osmosis (unless he’s a magician—and if he is, then that might be an alternative lucrative profession.) And a school would not grant him graduation rights if he did not meet their criteria. If there was nothing out of the ordinary going on in his life emotionally that affected his ability to study and pass tests then perhaps there is an educational issue that can be corrected.
It sounds like he can sometimes get through the tests and sometimes not. The ubiquitous test is inconsistent in and of itself. A good score on a test is only indicative of two things: a person’s ability to successfully take that particular test and their knowledge of that particular material tested. It is not necessarily indicative of a person’s ability to function in life or be successful professionally or financially. I know a brilliant, successful attorney who was dyslexic and hired someone to read all his law books to him to enable him to become a lawyer. These days we have a much better understanding of how people’s brains process, and understand that someone may need help learning how to study according to their brain’s wiring, and that not every test is going to work for every person. Schools today are more flexible and may make accommodations for different learning styles and test-taking needs if one can demonstrate his/her abilities and show that the test is not a true reflection of their knowledge and abilities.
Address it carefully, caringly, and subtly. It may well be that he is just not suited to be a professional. And even if he is successful at becoming a professional, there is no guarantee that he will always love it and won’t want to become a magician tomorrow after you are married. A person’s brilliance, scholastic success, and job title is not a guarantee that he will make a great marriage partner.
I would assume he will struggle professionally, and make your decision with that in mind. If you still want to marry him, then you will be happy with whatever he does. If the problem is something that can be addressed, then hopefully you can find a solution to your current concerns, and having successfully navigated your first “down” you will gain the clarity you need to determine if this is the right person for you.
Miriam Schreiber is the publisher of Jewish Image Magazine, Event coordinator/consultant and organizes tours throughout the world. She is involved in shidduchim across the globe and lives in Chicago. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In each installment of the Five Towns Jewish Times Dating Forum, a question pertaining to contemporary dating issues will be addressed by our diverse and experienced forum panelists. Questions and comments can be submitted to email@example.com.