Dear Prudence: I'm close to graduating with a doctorate degree in a lucrative field. About a year ago I met my boyfriend, whom I love dearly. We have a great connection and have started talking about marriage. However, he has no college education. He was in the military and had planned to make a career of it until he was medically discharged. He draws enough disability to live on, but he works full-time at a fairly menial job for additional money and something to do. He enjoys his job, there's room for advancement and he has a desire to move up.

My friends tell me that he is a freeloader. A very close friend says there is no reason for him not to pursue higher education, and his failure to do so indicates he's a poor excuse for a human being. His friends have suggested to him that I'm going to dump him once I obtain my degree.

I don't mind that he doesn't have a degree. I would support him if he decided to pursue college, but we're both 30 and he doesn't seem interested. If we were to get married, we agree he would stay employed. Is this relationship doomed because we differ so much in education and earning ability? My parents really like him and seem on board for the marriage thing as well.

Prudence says: Your boyfriend sounds like a keeper; it's your friends you might want to get rid of. That's a nauseating level of arrogance if they think that by pursuing university degrees they were doing something superior with their lives while your boyfriend was risking his. They need to discover that there are successful, interesting people who lack a degree.

Don't let their ugly judgments worm their way into your brain. The people who do know you two as a couple — your parents, and, well, the two of you — think you're great life partners.

If your boyfriend is willing to find similar work anywhere, you will have lots of flexibility when it comes to weighing job offers. Then there's this to consider: If you two have children, you could be the envy of your friends if the bulk of the child care is done by the bravest, strongest, most fun dad around.

Send questions to