29 yr old woman studying a Degree vs preparing for Marriage

Hi,
I’m a single, 29 (nearly 30) woman and I think God is calling me to a vocation to marriage.
I currently work full-time in an office as a clerk. I’m in my first year of studying primary/elementary school teaching with another 3 years to go (more time spent in study and a lot more money). I don’t know whether this is a waste of time if I am preparing myself for a vocation to marriage. I want to put my potential vocation to marriage and having children my first priority and not having a career. I am not comfortable with the thought of dropping my children off at school to drive down the road to teach other children at a different school. I love children and I thought that primary/elementary school teaching would be great as it could help me secure decently paid employment in the future. I didn’t really think so seriously with a potential vocation. I wish I had completed my studies straight out of high school or much earlier. The problem is that I am really at that age where I need to be considering whether studying a degree is worth it.

Of course, there are times where I feel anxious about how I will be able to support my future husband and children, particularly in the event that his income is not enough for me to stay at home and educate our children. I do understand that God does not want me to be anxious and that He will provide.

For all you mothers out there, would you mind sharing some light on your experiences and possibly, what you would do if you were in my situation?

This is very much appreciated. You are all in my prayers.

Are you currently seeing/dating a man?

If you aren’t dating a man, I would suggest staying in school and earning that degree. I’m assuming you live in the United States, and studies show that the POOREST group of women in this country are single women (the second poorest group is children of single women). Do not become one of those “statistics!”

Be wise, and finish that degree. Do not assume that you will meet and marry a man someday, because many women don’t.

It is good that you are earning a degree in a field where there are lots of job openings and in many states (like my state, Illinois), public school teachers receive wonderful salaries and benefits. (I think it’s difficult for Christians to teach in the public school setting, but I’m sure that God calls Christians to take on the challenge anyway and gives them the wisdom and strength to do it well without losing their faith).

If you ARE dating a man, I would still suggest staying in school and finishing the degree. My daughter (34 years old) has been married for 12 years, and she and her husband have been unable to conceive. She has undergone several painful medical treatments from doctors from the Pope Paul VI Institute, and as of yet, no pregnancy. I hope that this is not your experience, but it could be, so do not assume that you will have a family even if you are married.

If you marry and get pregnant, that’s a different situation, and at that time, you would have to re-evaluate the issues involved with staying in school while pregnant and while raising an infant. It’s possible that the current state of college (mainly online) might make it possible for you to stay in school even if you are married/pregnant/raising a baby!

Although this sounds mercenary, please make sure that the man you fall in love with and marry is capable of supporting a wife and family, and demonstrates this by working at a job(s) that earns a living wage. Poverty is a heavy burden to bear, and contributes to the ending of many marriages in the United States. Don’t romanticize it. Again, be WISE!

Finally, do you have female friends that you trust and can confide in? When it comes to love, marriage, and family, it’s really good to be able to talk in person with other women and receive their counsel. Also, if you and your mother (and sisters if you have them) get along well, talk to her often (unless there is some reason why she is unable to give wise counsel), especially if she is a Catholic/Christian.

And PRAY!

God bless you as you seek His will for your life!

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I’m confused. Are you actually dating a man that you plan to marry? Have you met a man who you think is a good marriage prospect? If not, then you need to also consider that you might not meet one, or it might take you 10 more years to meet one. Might be better to be getting your education while you seek a husband than just continue to work a lower level job during that whole time.

If your priority is to be a SAHM and educate your kids at home, then you probably should not go marrying some man who is unlikely to make enough money to support that.
Having said that - men with good jobs sometimes do lose their jobs through economic downturns, or get sick and have to stop working or reduce the workload, or even die.
If you are planning on having a bunch of kids, it is helpful if you at least have some skill to support them should you suddenly land in a position where you have to do so.

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Wives and moms can work.

Finish your degree.

Kids don’t stay small forever, even if you do stay at home when they are small.

My good friend is a teacher. Her sons go to elementary school, she teaches high school. She’s all done with her degree. She’s home with them in the afternoons and weekends and the summers.

Also, all mothers regardless of if they work outside or stay at home focus on their children.

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Finish school, do your thing. Until you’ve said your vows, it’s all hypothetical. Take care of yourself.

When you’re married (and also, when you’re engaged), you can have this conversation with your husband/future husband. Until then, you always take care of yourself.

Don’t assume you’ll both be capable of having children, or that the minute you’re married, suddenly there’s a baby. It will be, from the point of the vows, 9-18 months from then, if you’re both fruitful.

The biggest answer is that you should always live within your means. If you (and future husband) can manage to do that, being a stay at home wife (with or without children) should not be a huge issue (practice frugality, find a marriage-minded man that is understanding toward frugality, etc).

Also, another note: once you have a degree (and a husband), you can choose/opt to work from home. Plenty of companies pay salaries or hourly wages for at home employment, and with a degree, this is made more possible.

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In our situation, my husband’s employment alone would make it difficult to support our family as it is (with 5 children), much less consider growing it in the future. With my degrees, I’ve been able to find stable employment that pays well and is with a family friendly employer that allows me the flexibility to be there for special events for my kids as well as the day to day stuff. I have purposely slowed my career growth so that I can leave the office by 5 or 530 most days without guilt but still make a very good living.

In addition, if you are able to have kids and stay home with them, education knowledge could be extremely helpful especially if you decide to homeschool or want to find a job/volunteer position at your kids’ school. For example, knowing how to choose a good curriculum and implement it could be very helpful.

So in your situation, I would finish school. If you meet someone and get married (likely at least a year out, if you started dating someone today), then you can reevaluate staying in school. Though even at that I would probably stay in school until circumstances made it impractical or impossible (for example with a complicated pregnancy or something like that).

Agreed.

Agreed, I was 30 or 31 when I finished my engineering undergrad and make 4 time more now than I did before. One thing to note: As far as teaching goes, no matter your age as a new teacher you’re going to come in at the lowest “track”.

My wife does the exact same thing. i don’t see an issue.

Agreed again.

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Since you describe yourself as single (and not as ‘dating a specific man’), I’m going to join everyone else here in encouraging you to stay in school.

I know you may dream of meeting that perfect man who wants what you want and is able to provide, and if things rolled out exactly the way you dream, you may imagine looking back and thinking “Well, that education degree was a waste…”

But the hard truth is that you don’t know how things will roll out. Maybe you won’t meet that man. Or maybe you won’t meet a marriage-compatible man for another decade or so (and at that point in your life marriage and family might look different than you’re currently imagining). Also, God doesn’t waste anything. Even if you do meet the man of your dreams the day after graduating from your education program, I’m sure God will bring fruit from the work you did during that degree.

Make today’s decision on the basis of what God has given you today. If He hasn’t put a prospective spouse into your life already, don’t presume He will. Remember that God doesn’t just call us to ‘marriage’ – He calls us to a specific marriage with a specific person. With love, how can you be sure you’re called to it if you don’t yet know with whom? It’s similar with discerning consecrated religious life: it’s not an abstract, and discernment takes place with specific, concrete communities (and they could say ‘no’!)

I know it may be hard to consider. And absolutely feel free to be in conversation with men on dating websites or in your local dating scene in the meantime. But until you’re looking at a realistic, concrete, present-day alternative to the “decently paid employment” of teaching, think very carefully before just walking away from what you’ve already started. (And maybe seek out a spiritual director, if you don’t already have one.)

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I’m not sure I understand. Would you be intending to home school your children right through to 18? Assuming that that is not the case (it’s not the norm), you could take a short career break when your children are young enough to need you at home full-time and then resume your teaching career when they start school themselves. Teaching is a good career if you have children, because they are at school while you are at work.

Rather than thinking of it as “dropping my children off at school to drive down the road to teach other children at a different school”, you could think of it as “dropping my children off at a school where they will be taught chemistry by somebody with a degree in chemistry in a properly equipped chemistry lab while I use my specialised skills as a primary or elementary teacher teaching primary or elementary children”. So, really, the only point at which there is a conflict is the point at which your children are at exactly the same stage of their school career as the one that you specialise in teaching. Even then, your children will be benefiting from learning in a classroom with other children under the guidance of a professional teacher who is not their parent.

It would seem misguided to give up a degree course of which you have already completed 25% to focus on something that is currently only hypothetical. You still have to meet a man, go out with him for long enough to know that you are suited to getting married to each other, get engaged, plan your wedding, get married, get pregnant, and get through a 9-month pregnancy. To be honest, that whole process could easily take you the three years that you have until you finish your degree. Of course, you could meet the man of your dreams tomorrow, get engaged after a week, plan a simple wedding in a month, get pregnant on honeymoon, and have a baby by this time next year, but it doesn’t usually happen that way.

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Hi, I am not actually dating a man right now. I’m not actively involved in a courtship with anyone. Perhaps I am thinking a bit too early. Thank you so much.

Thank you for your answer. This helped me a lot.

Thank you so much. This has helped. This is a great answer.

This was a great answer. I am really glad I asked this question. I guess it is so difficult because I don’t know what the future holds so of course I should do exactly what you said and then if God decides to put me on a different, then great. It would be great for me to better myself that’s for sure. Just wondering… do you know anyone who is a nurse and a mother at the same time? Would teaching be more family friends than nursing?

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This was such a great statement. Thank you. I would probably not be intending to teach my children through to 18. I don’t think I could do that. Just while they are primary school age really. Of course, I want to give them the education possible but when they are of high school age I would really like for them to get a proper education, more than what I can provide.

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God bless you, sister. :slight_smile:

As far as teaching versus nursing, I’ll leave it for others to comment if they have concrete contemporary info for you one way or another, but my own instinct would be that the path you’re already on is uniquely well suited to eventual family life.

Again, this is barring any other discernment criteria which may be relevant for you (if for some reason you feel potentially more called to medical work than educational work, that’s worth considering — while ensuring to also consider whatever factors began you on this path to planning to go into teaching in the first place; just remember the Ignatian discernment rule not to change directions during a time of desolation, in case you might happen to be in such a time at the moment and that’s related to your thoughts about withdrawing from your program) — but my mind goes to hours, and it strikes me that one of the toughest things nurses often talk about is the hours (long hours, or crazy shift schedules), whereas one of the nicest perks teachers get is great hours: a regular work Mon-Fri schedule that makes it possible to be home outside of school hours, plus summer and other holidays off.

Depending on the grades you teach, there’s a certain reality of finding time to grade homework and do other associated paperwork — but compared to other jobs, teaching affords one an enormously sleep-friendly and vacations-friendly schedule. And the vacations bit I’m emphasizing since you’re looking for something the will dovetail nicely with a lovely home and family life if God calls you to marriage and children: when your kids have summers off, you’ll have summers off with them! No need to pay for childcare, etc. You’ll be around.

Edit: check out the longest run-on sentence I’ve written in a while. Oh wow. Sorry about that. Are you having any teacherly instinct to cover my third paragraph in red ink? Might I serve as an object lesson of some kind here? I wrote this at entirely the wrong hour on the clock. Time to sleep.

Thank you <3. I actually thought on the contrary - that nursing might be more suited to family life because of the flexible work schedule (etc., I can work a Saturday while my husband takes care of the children for that day) or I can do night shift here or there. It wasn’t until the other day, a friend of mine told me that it is because nursing can demand holidays, evenings and weekends is what makes it non-family friendly which really was the opposite of what I was thinking! Both nursing and teaching are notorius for burn-out. I do suffer with anxiety so it’s important I take care of myself. Despire all the holidays I have heard horror stories about teachers spending so much time at home, on weekends and holidays lesson planning etc.

I think at this stage, I am very confused and possibly the best thing to do is not to make drastic changes, just as you mentioned so I think in the meantime I will pray and just wait a little longer before I proceed to make any further decisions.

Thank you so much again

Yes, my — third party — understanding of nursing is that the odd hours aren’t so much about being flexible to the nurse’s desires, but demanded by the realities of the constantly rotating and stretched out shifts that get demanded. There’s some room for swapping shifts and so on, but my impression is it’s the same as with emergency room doctors: you just have to wait for each cycle of schedules to come out, and then manually reach out to individual other nurses to see if they’re willing to swap with you for individual days.

I would definitely call nursing a high burn out career.

I would actually not consider teaching the same. Just anecdotally. I know you’ll always get people who complain about any career… but I have both nurses and teachers in my family and I see no comparison. Even the reality of bringing paperwork home, for a teacher, seems more manageable (to me!) than the crazy circumstances nurses are subjected to that puts a disproportionate number of them in the unhealthy position of abusing substances just to stay awake and alert enough to feel they can do their job safely.

Again, this is only my $0.02. But for whatever it’s worth, I’m glad to hear you’re at least going to discern with this a while longer before making any actual changes to your current program underway, which seems a reasonable one to me.

YES!!!

I am not a nurse; I am a medical laboratory technologist who works in a hospital, and I have relatives who are nurses or physical therapists who work in a hospital.

Hospital work means WEEKEND work, and HOLIDAY work! Both of my daughters remember many Christmases when I was WORKING, and they had to delay their Christmas celebration traditions until I was home. Also, there is no guarantee of getting other holidays and family celebrations off work. There have been plenty of times where I was not able to get to a family celebration or event (e.g., graduations, sports competitions, weddings, funerals, Thanksgiving, Easter) because I was WORKING!!

Because of the way Easter moves around the calendar, I have worked virtually EVERY Easter for the last 30 years in my current hospital job. I had to WORK on the Easter weekend that my husband and I converted into the Catholic Church!!

Once years ago (I think it was in the early 2000s), I told my supervisor (who has since retired) that I would like to have Easter off for once–she didn’t believe I had worked every Easter, so she checked the calendar, and sure enough, I had worked EVERY EASTER for the previous 7 years! So she kindly changed the schedule so that I could have the holiday off. But I believe that is the last time that I have had Easter off work. I attend Easter Vigil, and end up tired the next day at work, and tiredness is not a good thing when you work in a hospital.

Teaching, on the other hand, means that you are guaranteed weekends off, holidays off, and summers off (or at least, extended times off if your city or town uses a year-round approach to public school). Also, your hours kind of coincide with your children’s schedules. And in our city at least, if a teacher wishes to have her children attend the school where she teaches, this is allowed, even if they live in a different section of the city.

So teaching, hand’s down, is more “family-friendly.” The only time you will be separated from your family is if the union demands that you show up for the yearly protest/strike, and then lots of teachers bring their children along to the protest/strike! So it’s win-win!

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But teachers do work over the weekend and on holidays as well: not in the classroom but at home, checking and grading homework and exams, making up exams and quizzes, preparing lessons. Teaching is NOT a 9 to 3 job, and never was.

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I’m an ICU nurse. Here’s my perspective of my career 15 years in.

  1. Yes nurses work long hours and in my department we do have flexibility in our schedule. I am mandated to work 3 12 hour shifts a week, it does not matter what days of the week that is. However, I am required to work 8 weekend shifts (Saturday or Sunday) per 8 week schedule. This is something that myself and my family has gotten used to. There are nice things about my schedule and having a family that I do that I would not have in a Monday through Friday job. My child’s dentists or orthodontics appointments, my own dentists or medical appointments, parent- teacher conferences, school Christmas concert, All Saints Day…are just a few examples. I have flexibility to schedule my work with flexibility to my everday life events.

  2. I have ample opportunities to work extra shifts which is both a blessing and a curse. Twice in my 20 years of married life to my husband, he has been laid off of work. The last time (and longest time) was 2 months during the last great recession. Having these extra shifts available helped to keep us afloat until he was able to find work. My work also offers additional pay differential for working extra shifts. I do greatly appreciate having the opportunity to work extra shifts when I want to.
    —It can become a “curse” when I dont want extra shifts and my work may be so hurting for workers that they may call me everyday on my days off.

  3. Yes, nurses suffer from burnout. From what I witness among my coworkers when they feel like this is that they can move to a completely different department or specialty. I have a friend who was an ICU nurse and got burned out. She then went to L&D, now she’s a nurse midwife. Others will move from ICU to radiology. Others have moved from ICU to the surgery, and got tired of that so they’re in endoscopy. I have some friends who have from ICU to cardiac rehab.
    Lately I’ve been feeling like leaving ICU and applying for an outpatient dialysis clinic.
    Yes, nurses do suffer from burnout. From my experience nurses combat this by moving within the healthcare system to other departments. Which gives them the opportunity to learn new thingsThere is a plus side of this in that if you get tired of one place you do have the flexibility to find something else. I am unsure if teachers have this type of flexibility within their career.

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