The other day I was reading a blog post on another women’s site that was asking the question “would you date a man with no college degree”? I found the topic to be particularly interesting because I actually did marry a man who did not attend college. I currently have two college degrees, including an MBA, and have often thought about going back to school. So I read that article with piqued interest, and have read other articles in the past on similar topics. The author of the piece wasn’t really presenting an opinion on the matter one way or the other, but was really just stating some of the issues couples of different educational backgrounds might encounter. And then she posed the question to be answered in the comments section. Most of the responses in the comments section were common sense observations and stated the obvious: that the level of education doesn’t really determine the quality of the man, or woman. Once upon a time, the idea of marrying someone who did not have a similar educational background was taboo, especially when the more educated one was the woman. But today, especially within the black community, women are outpacing men in pursuing secondary educations. So the practice of marrying someone who has not received a college education or who has received less college education than yourself (the woman), is becoming more common and less taboo.
This whole conversation begs a bigger question to me: what about areas outside of education? Do the same theories about the quality of a person hold true for the things that make us fundamentally who we are? Things like: where and how you grew up; your cultural identity; your belief system, based on the country you came up in as a child or your religion. These are the things that shape the framework of our value system, regarding the things we deem to be important, like education and our views about gender relationships and gender roles. Two people can genuinely care about each other but hold very different fundamental beliefs about money, for example, based on the amount of money they had in their household when they were growing up. These are definitely the experiences that will shape how you carry yourself when you are no longer single. They also determine how you view your partner. Are these issues more difficult to overcome in a relationship than something like education?
I don’t have a personal observations to serve as an answer to that question myself. But I would venture to say, that it would take a deep commitment to the success of the relationship to overcome those types of differences. The key to success in my relationship despite, our different educational backgrounds, has been a foundation built on the things that make most relationships thrive: love, loyalty, communication, commitment, patience understanding and partnership. When you struggle with illness, death, and hardship – you know, life – in the darkest hours it doesn’t matter what school someone did or did not go to.
The same cannot always be said about cultural differences. For example, many different religions and countries deal with the grieving process in extremely different ways. I suppose those are the moments when it really comes down to your desire to see your relationship work no matter what. Surely, it has to be difficult. I do believe that people can make sacrifices, if they choose, that will benefit the overall good of the partnership. in the end that’s what it boils down to; who you want to be there for and who you want to be there for you when life really gets tough.
Are any of you in a relationship with someone from a completely different background? How do you make it work? Or what caused it not to work in the long run?