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Dating and Relationship Advice

Dear Rabbi and Shira,

Hi. I’m engaged to a great guy. My issue with him is that he seems very indecisive in terms of which career to pursue. After many years of studying, he received his CPA but now wants to go back to school to become a Physical Therapist. I am concerned that he will never be able to settle down and stick to one career. While I know he is very bright, his indecisiveness bothers me. I come from a family of 8 children and there was never enough money to go around. My parents floated from job to job. Growing up, my family shared a three-bedroom apartment. My siblings always wore each other’s hand-me downs, and we ate a lot of pasta for dinner. I always promised myself that when I became an adult my life would be different and that my children would never live with the same insecurities that I had growing up. Although I have been a nurse for the past 6 years, I’m afraid that my salary won’t be enough, and I am petrified that my chasan won’t be able to do his share.

Petrified in Brooklyn

Dear Petrified,

It sounds like this point is touching on a key portion of your childhood experiences. You wanted to choose a future which was different from you past, with an assumption of financial security. However, now you are scared that you are going to relive your childhood and be in the same predicament that you had growing up.

However, if you carefully compare the situations, you might find several differences which can lower your anxiety. For example; can you distinguish how your situation can be different than the way that you grew up? Did your parents go to college? Complete college? Have master’s degrees? Physical therapists can make an average salary of over $80,000 (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook) and nurses do well too. You also mentioned that you have been a nurse for 6 years; that seems more stable than how you describe your parent’s situation. It could be the fear of your past is clouding the reality of your future.

You never mentioned why your chasan wants to switch careers. Have you talked to your chasan about why he is switching career paths? If not, examine with him what is prompting this change? Why after taking many rigorous exams, would he choose to become a PT? Are the hours different? Is the salary better? Does the job make it easier to create a healthy a work life balance? Have you discussed with him whether his concerns could be present in his new career as well?

If you have discussed your concerns with him, how does he respond to your concerns? He has not made any decisions which are set in stone, and it is important that you both share your fears and concerns with each other.

Other thoughts to consider… Is it possible that you can use your personal salary to pay the bills during your first few years of marriage while he is in graduate school? Maybe one of you already has a savings that can be used during this time? Would your chasan consider taking a part time job while he in school to offset some of the bills? If the two of you can create an action plan, it could minimize the uncertainty, and the subsequent anxiety that you are experiencing.

Hatzlacha Rabah,

Rabbi Reuven and Shira Boshnack