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Dear Carolyn: Six months ago, my sister-in-law introduced us to “J,” her new man. He is funny, kind to her and incredibly well read, and they share interests. I’ve never seen her more at peace and happy.

The problem, according to my in-laws and my husband, is that J “only” has a high school diploma and works at an after-school program for kids. He is “beneath” my sister-in-law, who has her MD and PhD. My husband and I met in law school, and both our families are overeducated and upper middle class.

When my in-laws voiced their concerns, I gave pause — but then my husband said if either of our daughters “ends up with a J,” then he’d feel like a failure as a father. I countered that J is kind, respectful and smart and “gets” his sister. He pays his bills and is happy. I mean, financial security is important, but this man is not destitute. What more do we want for our daughters?

He said J cannot be their intellectual equals and he doesn’t make enough. My husband would not have been this black-and-white a decade ago. Who is he becoming? I’m deeply upset at his judgment of J and what he thinks is important for our daughters.

Grrr: “Grrr”? No. Full-throated parent-bear roar.

As much as J and all the J’s deserve the full-roar defense, it’s your own kids’ potential to be like J themselves that has me howling.

And you’re both making the assumptions this time, not just your husband, that your kids are above this.

Your defending J is right and important. But if it stops there, then it’s a “fine as long as it’s not one of us” defense, which might ultimately be as effective as no defense at all.

You don’t specify how old your kids are — but one daughter or both might opt out of college, or go and then drop out, or, if they’ve already graduated, hop off their “overeducated, upper-middle-class” High Performance Gene Pool Approved™ career paths in favor of work that requires only a high school diploma. They may choose rewarding, difficult, necessary and low-paying work instead.

Each might do that and fall for her own version of J, who has all kinds of room to be his or her own thing within your parameters: good for your kid, pays the bills, happy.

Or maybe all of them — each daughter, each partner! — will choose work that is numbing, easy, frivolous, low-paying and enough.

And, mirror time: Would the concerns be this operatic, exactly, if a male MD-PhD were dating a female early-childhood educator?

Loving the person a daughter becomes more than you love the path you envision for her is what a good parent does. Especially since there is no such thing as the ability to filter and sort for the exact features and career-worthiness of a child. Mercifully.

So, is your husband ready to love and support and be proud of kids who grow up to want no part of degrees, advanced or otherwise, thank you very much? Are you?

Or maybe I should put it this way: How can you say you love your kids if you are prepared to accept them fully only if they hit achievement benchmarks befitting their High Performance Gene Pool™?

If you would in fact accept them fully if they grew up to make J-like choices — how dare I suggest otherwise, etc. — then you can welcome a J. And accept your kid with a J.

The logic really is that freaking simple. No signed parchment required.

This is the battle you pick to see who your husband is.

Not that there’s anything wrong with degrees, of course. Power to all who take them on — plus a significant lifelong pay boost, statistically speaking. But we get them for our own reasons. Not so our parents can like themselves.

Dear Carolyn: I’ve been dating “Dan” for over a year. Since the beginning, he’s known I’m not interested in marrying again. I’m long divorced, my daughter started college last fall, and my life is great just how it is. Though Dan has joked about how empty my house must be, I thought he understood how I felt.

He proposed to me on Valentine’s Day. I asked why he thought I had changed my mind, and he named some things I’ve done that he saw as hinting around for a proposal. Nothing he mentioned has anything to do with marriage.

Afterward, Dan said he was fine, but his whole demeanor has changed. He seems deflated. I’d love for us to continue as we have been, but I wonder if he’s harboring resentment that will poison this relationship. What do you think?

Said No: Clearly, he thought there was a loophole in your no-marriage pronouncement. You thought he understood, but he was harboring false hopes.

Now he knows there isn’t a loophole.

So he has to figure out if he can accept these “new” (to him) terms. Maybe he can, maybe he can’t, but it’s hard and he’ll need time. Give him as much as you’re willing to spare.

#Advice #Carolyn #Hax #Husband #thinks #sisterinlaws #boyfriend #beneath

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