Can you do it all–pursue a career and love?

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Over the break, my significant other and I had an opportunity to meet with an extraordinary couple. They are a young couple who have been married for about five years, and both individuals are pursuing demanding careers. They are family friends of my significant other who told me that they have stores of wisdom on healthy relationships, so we thought it would be a great idea to talk to them. The husband is completing his doctorate in religion, and his wife is currently a gynecologist. With their busy schedules, we were delighted that they took the time to talk with us. We all met at Cracker Barrel for breakfast one Saturday morning, and it was so refreshing to listen to such an inspiring couple—they were not just inspiring for what they are pursuing in life, but also for the way in which they love and support one another. We felt like we would be able to relate to them because they are just a little older than us, and they are trying to find a balance between developing their careers and fostering a healthy relationship. They said many encouraging comments that touched my heart and helped me to realize that getting married doesn’t mean that your personal pursuits have to end, but marriage could be used as a catalyst to achieving your goals.

Looking at this couple caused me to rethink my ideas about the right time for marriage. I always thought I could never do both—be in a serious relationship/marriage and pursue my career goals/school. I guess this is why I have not been in a romantic relationship since high school (8 years ago). I received further support for my ideals on pursuing my education without pursuing love from many friends and family members. I can hear their voices say “marriage can wait—get your education.” Research indicates that many people feel this way about postponing marriage until after their careers have been established. But is it possible that marriage could provide support for pursuing your career goals? Because research also indicates that married people have more consistent emotional support than singles, and this support could be essential in pursuing career goals. I am not saying that I am getting married tomorrow or even within the next few years. But my ideas on it all have changed. I can do both—I can pursue love and my career. For far too long, I put my career on a pedestal and thought it would define who I am. But now I believe that how I love determines who I am as a person. Therefore, I can do both because my career is predicated on who I am, which is determined by how I love.

Cassandra Kirkland, MS

Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative

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