I’ve been dating a wonderful guy for nearly six months. We’ve started talking about moving in together within the next six months and getting married sometime after that.
Here’s the deal: my mother loves to drop little comments about how she thinks the relationship isn’t going to work long-term. For instance, I have a master’s degree, but boyfriend didn’t go to college. He’s younger than me (25 vs. 29). Our families are also very different in terms of education, income, and all that superficial jazz. This kind of thinking appalls me, but it has stuck in the back of my mind. I hate that it has. I love my boyfriend, and have never discussed marriage seriously with anyone but him.
Do you think these factors could somehow hurt our relationship in the long run? Friends I’ve talked with about the situation say no, and I’m pretty much convinced those issues will only become issues if I let them. But I want some straight up advice from someone who doesn’t know me. Could you offer some perspective?
Ah, mothers. Good times.
The DW has to admit, though, you can’t say the stuff your mother’s concerned about doesn’t matter at all. It’s unlikely that Malia Obama will one day stroll past a roomful of well-connected Stanford grads to strike up a long term relationship up with a grade school educated diesel mechanic from Peyote, New Mexico, no matter how deserving, upstanding, good-lookin’, and erudite that dude is, right? Fling, maybe. But that’s about it.
In fact, one of the things the DW and the Wifey had going for them was totally similar backgrounds. Might not look like it at first glance since they come from different racial makeups and different parts of the country, but once you get past those (admittedly significant) differences, you start to get into all kinds of weird commonalities. Similar economics, educations, jobs and hobbies of parents, home town atmospheres, familial expectations, relationships with siblings, and on and on. And what coming from such comparable places in the world allowed them to do from the start was talk with an ease that was practically shorthand, even about sensitive topics like religion, politics, relationships, family, or boning or whatever.
This isn’t to say, though, that all “that superficial jazz,” is as absolutely predictive as your mom thinks. It wasn’t all the similarities in their backgrounds that made the DW and the Wifey work, the similarities just made it easier. Huge difference. The DW knows fucking awesome couples who are Completed Fancypants Graduate Degree + Left Eleventh Grade With Middle Finger Held High; Working Class Parents Together For 40 Years + Professional Parents Who Split Up Damn Nigh Immediately After Conception; Only Child + Youngest Of Eight; Country Jock + City Goth; Top Secret Space Alien Refugee + CIA Operative; you name it. Hell, if you really thought long enough about your mom and your dad, the DW bets they wouldn’t look like such a hot match on paper either, but somehow they managed to get together and repeatedly and vigorously make the sweet passionate love that resulted in you. And if they’re not together anymore, well, maybe that’s a lot of the reason that your own supposed mismatch gives your mom so much fuel for worry.
Look, ultimately it just comes down to you and the dude, right? If you grew up rich and he grew up poor, that’s just a problem if one of you is a dick about it. If he constantly mocks or resents your family’s money, or if you act like the only daughter of the Duchess of Bitchwellington- well, that’s not really completely about the dollars, is it? What your mom forgets, too, is that a lot of times parental meddling, earwig planting, passive aggressive disapproval jujitsu, and scattershot expectations from another life and another time can be just a big a hurdle to overcome as anything else in your background, no matter how loving and well-intentioned it is.
So, congrats on finding a dude you want to move in with! Fine, so a couple of details look upside down if you tried to plug them into a supernerd computer simulation to determine the percentage for successful human union. Well, believe the DW, once you unpack your boxes and start squeezing the same tube of toothpaste, a lot of shit will sort itself out lickity split. Some problems might well be background related. For instance, are you still cool with the education difference once you’re paying bills and rent and planning vacations together if it turns out the dude’s ceiling on what he earns will likely always be less than yours? But background doesn’t have a whole lot to do with most day to day negotiations about the hows and whens of sex, where you put the hamper, or how to handle it if one of you shits up the bathroom right before the other person takes a shower.
Best of luck with the move-in and the marriage talkin’.
Here’s to not letting mom’s voice rattle around in your head for too long. Remember, if everybody did what their mom thought was best, we would have 327,000 dentists for every decent punk band and “Lolita” never would have been written.