Adapted from a recent online discussion.
My boyfriend of over three years is currently in a military medical school. We live together, and lately have been discussing future plans (we are 24, so these are plans a few years down the line). Medical school rotations, residency, and any other mandatory training from the military are things I have been aware of for a long time, and I am aware that he will be physically gone for a large portion of the next 2 to 3 years.
I want to go back to graduate school within the next year or two, but I feel oddly guilty. I feel that if our relationship doesn’t work out, it’s because I wanted to pursue other things and not adapt to the military-wife life. He has never made me feel this way and is supportive, but my own paranoia and worry about our future lately are driving me insane.
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We have a good relationship, but lately it lacks a little passion given our busy schedules. Should I let this pass and hold on? Do I leave it now? If I leave for graduate school I am afraid of losing a good thing.
– Along for the Ride
Good things are surprisingly durable.
Plus, you are not a military wife.
Plus, if pursuing what you want spells the undoing of your relationship, then it wasn’t a relationship you wanted.
So live your life based on who you are, what you have and what you want. An example of that: Sure, go to graduate school, but make sure the career you’re training for is not just one that suits you, but also is at least somewhat portable. It’s not a bad thing to have in your pocket anyway.
That way you'll be prepared for much relocating a la military, but also have options and flexibility if your relationship doesn’t work out.
By the way, this grad-school-future paranoia could easily be a proxy for concern about the state of your relationship. Time to look at whether you’re really happy with him, no? Your busy schedules could be getting in the way, sure, but they also could be what you’re hiding behind because you don’t want to deal with the mess and anguish of drifting apart.
Either way, you want to find out before you build your lives around each other.
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Re: Along for the Ride:
As a former military wife, DO IT. DO IT NOW. If you have an opportunity to pursue interests now, don’t postpone them; you don’t know what the future holds.
I spent years in a holding pattern because we were stationed somewhere that didn’t offer my degree. I’m still paying for it post-divorce, literally, in student loan money and lost earnings. I don’t think it’s doomsaying to point out that nothing is guaranteed. Not location, not opportunities, not your relationship, not even either of your lives (God forbid). Do everything you can to put yourself in a position to take care of yourself if you need to. I wasn’t ready, and I see too many friends who would not be ready if disaster struck.
Not doomsaying, it’s smartsaying. Thank you.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com.