Dear Carolyn:

I am in my late twenties, involved with the same man for several years. We agree we have the potential for marriage. When we were in the same city, we had little time together because of his demanding work schedule. We've been long-distance for two years. We see each other frequently.

The problem is, we argue -- I feel because of the tension created by the distance. He feels we need to resolve these communication issues before I pick up my life and move to be with him. (He's now working for his family and will likely remain in the same place.) He believes I have other career interests that I need to pursue to be happy with him. I would like to attend graduate school, but I am concerned we can't decide if we can be together without being in the same place. Does it seem plausible that pursuing my own personal goals first will allow our relationship to be more balanced?

New York

It's plausible you've reached the limit of what talking can do for a relationship, and then talked for a year beyond it.

Could being happier with yourself make you happier with him? Sure. Could he be yanking your chain? Sure. Could you already have all the information you need to decide about him? Probably.

If you want to move near him to be sure, then do it.

And if he's afraid he'll become your whole life, then remind him that you're responsible for yourself, this is what you want and if it doesn't work out, you'll live to see another day and/or grad school.

If, on the other hand, all his beliefs and feelings and concerns for your career are just words to conceal his not wanting you -- if you're just deceiving yourself -- then you need to admit to that, now.

Dear Carolyn:

School, kids or career first? My husband and I want all three, but we're not sure in what order we should tackle them. He wants to go to grad school, I want a year of work experience overseas in Asia and we both want three children. Most of our close friends say: grad school first -- since I just finished my master's, now it's his turn. My mom says, "Kids first," because we love kids and I'm already 25.

However, I feel we should do my year overseas now, before we have too many responsibilities and so I can get to know my husband's culture (he's Asian). My husband says to follow my dream of working overseas, but perhaps he's being overly generous and self-sacrificial. What do you think?

Calif.

"Already" 25? Call AARP.

If you think you should go overseas, and your husband thinks you should go overseas, then you should go overseas.

The idea of "turns" is thoughtful and egalitarian and all, but it also undercuts the whole idea of marriage. In making big decisions, you do what's best for the marriage. What brings the most happiness to both at the least expense to either?

Sometimes that means you take turns, sometimes it means you take what comes (like, twins on pregnancy 3) and trust it to even out in the end, sometimes it means you don't think so much when you apparently want the same thing.

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