Monday, February 15, 2010

Do men and women need to have the same level of education level to be compatible?

The question was posed over on the END THE MADNESS board. I thought it was an interesting one. I'm posting my submission here. It may or may not go up on his board. He likes to reject submissions.

The interesting thing about this was that when our parents were marrying, women often didn't have college. My mother was above the norm because she went to a business school and worked in an office. From that generation and older, you find men with REALLY high education levels married to women of little or no education. Nowadays, however, men with a PhD want a woman with a PhD. I feel like I surely won't find anyone until I at least get my bachelor's, possibly my master's. At which point, I might have to worry about fertility issues.
Personally, I find it interesting that divorces rates skyrocketed as women left the home in favor of the workforce and these women became more educated. When there were great gaps, the divorce rate was much lower.

Last April, I was looking at a Frumster profile of a guy that I thought was perfect for me. I actually stared at this profile for a good ten/twenty minutes debating if I should send to him. I didn't contact him because he has a PhD and I figured he would turn me down because I don't even have a bachelor's at my age. Men don't even stop to consider that I may have had an unusually rough life that prevented me from finishing my degree. Right or wrong, this has become the reality of the criterion from men when they are looking for a marriage partner.


  1. I think if one is in their last semester or two of their bachelor's degree it wouldn't be a significant issue.

    I have not found even with girls from NYC that there is such a demand on education. My experience is perhaps limited, but what I see is roughly the following:

    MO men: want the women to have a equal degree or one step "below", but two steps "below" is not a showstopper. E.g. PhD guy wants Master's or PhD or JD girl, but would consider Bachelor's girl.
    This rule-of-thumb loosens as the guy is more right-wing MO, i.e. PhD guy is more likely to consider Bachelor's.
    The more left-wing, the more important the education becomes. It gets humorous when they start picking on my colleges and courses I took.
    Yes, actually picking on the pedigree of the university and how many graduate courses one took while an undergrad.

    It's a bit of a crapshoot with PhD's. The ones that are actually smart are cognizant of how difficult it is when everything hasn't gone to plan, especially with the extra life difficulties women can have. Back before I was in life where I am today, I always just went for it when thinking someone might be out of my league, and I was rarely turned down for education reasons. It might be the perfect fit.

  2. It depends. Generally speaking, to some people who care about social standing then 'Yes' it does. As shallow as that does sound. Some people today do care about those things.

    In some cultures. An individuals family background and upbringing can say quite a lot about a person. For some people there will be times where one tends to place a lot of emphasis on a families Yichus.

    If education is quite important to you then 'Yes'. If you are career and goal orientated then 'Yes'. Sometimes having or sharing mutual outlooks and goals can be a deciding factor as well.

    Now without resorting to the use of blanket statements at the end of the day personally I believe it just comes down compatibility. Either they like you or they don't.

    Some people can be like chalk and cheese but somehow they manage to make it work.

    Relationships are not fairy tales. People need to become more realistic in their approach to finding a suitable spouse. Our lives aren't based on a Walt Disney Classic.

  3. "People need to become more realistic in their approach to finding a suitable spouse. "

    I say that all the time.

  4. Educational differences between partners is irrelevant. It is values and character parity that count, far more than educational parity.

    Education- and that includes Torah learning- without values and character is worthless. No matter how educated, life without shared values and compatible characters is cold and lonely.

    I have said before that it is easy to be 'smart'. It is not so easy to be a mensch.

  5. I used to have respect for people with a PhD. That was before I worked with some of them. Now, a PhD is meaningless to me. I'd rather assess a person's intelligence on my own.

    Oh, and, I'd much rather spend time with someone who is intelligent than with someone who is not.

  6. I think this comes back to the question: what is it that we expect from our spouses? Some people expect their spouses to be their everything... best friends, equal partners who see eye-to-eye on everything, and lovers. I'm reading a book now about marriage where the author cited a study that shows that women today expect that their husbands will "inspire" them on a daily basis. I'm not even sure what that means. The author then cites a similar study from the 1920's where the women wanted an honest, hardworking spouse.

    If you expect your spouse to be your everything (a tall order, by the way), then education may be an issue. However, if you concede that there will be things that your spouse just won't be able to give you (such as long philosophical talks about medieval plowing techniques) then concessions in education can (should?) be made.

    I honestly think our Western view of what a marriage is or should be is really messed up. We expect way too much of each other and we fail to lean on community (often, because of the limited nature of the Western nuclear family, we have no strong community support) for other things. I heard a speaker once say that on his very best day, a man can only give his wife 40% of her emotional needs and that she must lean on girlfriends, sisters, aunts, mother/mother-in-law, for the rest. Most of our lives are not set up in such a way to make this possible and so we suffer and our marriages suffer.

  7. As long as she has a college education and a functional career plan that fulfills her - the educational level doesn't really matter. More important, as I wrote in my post on intelligence in a shidduch prospect (, is the person herself and how we get along our intellectual interactions. Someone could be extremely motivated for their own personal knowledge despite whatever more "mundane" job they may have.

  8. It also depends on the career and/or industry one's spouse (or even potential) spouse is employed in. Now in saying that... some people may feel the need to further pursue their Academic studies whilst others not so.

    Academia is not everyone's cup of tea. People in the past have become quite successful entrepreneurs and pioneers with limited qualifications. Others have become movers and shakers in various industries.

    With the current economic situation at hand for many households families have had to seriously cut back on expenditure. And with the rising costs of day to day expenses and more importantly with the sharp rise in education costs it makes you wonder why some people will also take into consideration a person's financial security when looking to settle down and marry.

    It's not that we should automatically assume this person is a "gold digger". But people do like to feel that they are financially secure and are not burying themselves into debt.

    As for the qualities someone may seek in a potential spouse think of it this way. How about just being able to sit down with someone and actually have a conversation with them without the deafening silences and awkward pauses. Isn't communication an important element in many relationships?

    Some people have come to the conclusion that the male/female gender roles in society have indeed become overlapped or somewhat confused.

    Maybe overtime some people have come to terms with knowing what their limits are. As the song goes - "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need" (The Rolling Stones).

  9. Yes, but what about the autodidact? They may be quite learned, but not have a college degree for whatever reason.
    Also, there are a number of college grads serving coffee and working behind registers.