Marry for Money, Not Love

I once asked a friend of mine why he had not married his girlfriend of many years. He replied that he had always wanted to be a kept man and that she just did not have enough money to afford him.
Another time, back in the dark ages when I was in high school, a teacher asked the class whether they would rather have “money, power or the love of a good man or woman.” Just about everyone in the class responded that they would rather have love. Of course, I replied that I would rather have money because with money comes power and, I thought, greater options for love.

I believe my high school class booed and hissed at my response, a reaction to which I was rather accustomed, but to this day I wonder how many of them might not agree with my assessment. Indeed, when I look at the number of doctors, lawyers, engineers, business owners and other professionals from my class, I suspect that many of my peers had their eyes on a financial prize at least by the time they decided to head off to college.

As my own children approach adulthood, I want them to be happy with all of their decisions. One son has no desire to have any dependents and I am sure it will be a long time before he even begins to settle down unless a wealthy young woman sweeps him off his feet. Until then, life should be a party, or so he thinks. My younger son, however, already has a plan for building up a nest egg so that he can be married before he is thirty and make sure his wife never has to work “unless she wants to work.” For one son, it is just as easy to fall in love with a wealthy woman as it is to fall in love with a poor one. For the other, it is important to marry for love and to be able to give all that he has to the object of his affection.

I am sure that as both young men grow, their attitudes will converge somewhere in between the rather mercenary approach of my elder son and he will discover a nurturing side. The idealistic and giving son will discover the practical needs of a modern marriage. Along the way, they will find that although money is important for all of us, it does not define the success or failure of any marriage as much as the attitudes of the married couple toward money define the relationship.

It is far more important for couples to discuss their financial expectations and goals, in depth, before deciding to take the plunge into marriage, than it is for the couple to have a certain net worth. Two people who choose to work for non-profit organizations can be very happy with less money as long as both share the same vision. Two people earning a combined $500,000 can be miserable if one of them wants to take a lower paying job but the other wants to continue with a more extravagant life style.

What do you think? How does money affect our love interests and how do our love interests affect our financial expectations? Is money necessary to sustain love or can true love endure financial hardship? Is it just as easy to fall in love with a rich person? What advice would you give your kids and what advice do you wish you had been given?

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23 Responses to Marry for Money, Not Love

  1. Max says:

    Marry for money? What the hell is wrong with you? You marry when you find someone who can be a trusted teammate, confidant, friend, someone who will help you and have your back, and, goes without saying, someone you want to keep f*ing for the rest of your life. ANYONE with a normal job and reasonable lifestyle will probably do fine money-wise if they are stashing 15%-20% of paychecks … but marry for money?

  2. Harry Padget says:

    Of course there are many reasons to marry for love and not for money, probably one of the best is that with the current trend in devorce rates etc you might find yourself with less than you started with.

  3. Broken Arrow says:

    That’s a very thought-provoking article there! Quite a potential powder keg. Great question.

    You know, in my younger years, I would not have hesitated to say “love”, and I admit a small part of me still does. If you’re planning to spend the rest of your life with someone, money alone isn’t going to cut it.

    Now, what I find interesting is that you have a friend who can openly admit to wanting to be a kept man AND that he hasn’t married… because his girlfriend can’t afford him yet?

    Now, I’m not talking about the stereotypical gender role swap here, but more of the practice in itself. I mean, referring to my belief stated above, I don’t think it may be wise to simply look at a relationship from a strictly monetary perspective.

    At the same time, I think we all realize the great importance of financial stability and wellness in a relationship. Finances certainly does factor into a healthy relationship. Of that, I have no doubt now.

    But the tail should not wag the dog, in my opinion. Money shouldn’t dictate one’s relationship actions. That’s my opinion. If it does, then it’s not a relationship. It’s a business arrangement. And that’s fine too, but that to me is different and should be handled differently than a relationship.

  4. Ann says:

    In some major ways, this is a toughie.

    I was unlucky enough to marry a guy, when I was young, who didn’t have my work ethics or financial values. When I divorced him, a friend (who wanted me to NEVER feel guilty or sorry about getting rid of him) told me that, when the divorce came up in conversation, my ex- made the comment “yup, lost my meal ticket.” I’d already lost all respect for the guy, but geez! Didn’t really surprise me because he asked about alimony, when I divorced him… thank goodness I planned the divorce for over a year to make sure he didn’t qualify!

    When you’re young, you don’t think about discussing financial goals and approaches to that side of life, but it’s something that should be addressed. Even in pre-marital counseling (at least when I got married) the subject didn’t come up. I’m not saying that finance should be a sole determination, but it does need to be a factor.

    As I’ve gotten older, I find that I’m attracted to men with stable/strong finances. Some of it comes from education and intelligence, which I’m attracted to. Some of it is self-defense. I can’t respect a man who has been foolish enough to get himself into a lot of debt or expect someone else to support him.

    In our society, money is a sign that people value what we do. There is value in a partner taking care of everything on the homefront while the other is working long hours, but there is no value to one person carrying all of the burdens of home and earning.

    A person working in an honorable lower-paying job, living within their means and not expecting others to pay their way is worthy of respect. Someone who expects others to always pick up the check, so to speak, deserves to be alone and pay for the consequences of their actions themselves.

    IMHO, Max is being a little optimistic. 🙂 Not everyone believes in living a “reasonable lifestyle.” Just look at what’s going on in our economy today. Obviously, a LOT of people haven’t been doing what he assumes is normal and a lot of those people are VERY good at hiding how they’re living from other people… including the people they date.

    There are a lot of factors that go into finding and choosing a lifemate. Finances is just one of many factors and should definitely NOT be the sole factor.

  5. Petunia says:

    Yup, quite a powder keg. . .

    But still.

    How a person spends and saves money demonstrates their values. One of my friends once said that observing another person’s calendar and checkbook will tell you a lot about that person. It is a reflection of their values and character, and more accurate than the “good face” the person will present to you while dating.

    The friend who made the comment about checkbooks & calendars is long married, as am I. In hindsight it’s very good advice though. I’d highly advise looking objectively at these two things early in a relationship if a person is marriage-minded. Isn’t money a factor in many divorces?

  6. spicoli says:

    Relationships are all about give and take. As long as you are both giving more of yourselves than you take, the money is not all that important.

  7. Monkey Mama says:

    That headline is a doozie. Of course I didn’t marry for money.

    BUT, let’s face it – there are plenty of fish in the sea. Financial stability is important and having similar financial goals is certainly important in MY relationship. After reading the whole article, I mostly agree.

    For others, I don’t think the money matters so much. It largely depends on personality. But the flip side of this is how many people don’t care and whose marriage end in divorce over money matters. You could argue that if you care about your marriage, you would discuss money long before you marry.

    I’ve loved a few men in my life. Not all of them were marriage material – for various reasons. There is much more to marriage than love. There is much more to marriage than money, too.

    For all our financial compatibility, I think it was mostly subconscious. If we were fighting over money, why would I marry someone I was constantly at odds with? I think that’s what it mostly comes down to, for me.

  8. Snowy Heron says:

    Good article and interesting subject. I think Ann was right in her observations on her deadbeat ex-husband. Obviously, he married for money and deceived her into thinking it was for love. Marrying for money alone is just wrong – and the expense, pain and difficulty of divorce should be part of anyone’s equation.

    I think it would be best to marry someone who is honest and financially responsible. Someone like that will usually end up fairly prosperous and you will live a comfortable life. I’ve seen plenty of people marry for money and the end result has not been pretty. But marrying for love and a responsible partner? That’s really the answer.

  9. claudia says:

    You wrote: “How does money affect our love interests and how do our love interests effect our financial expectations.”

    1. You used the word “affect” correctly in the first part of the sentence but then goofed by using the word “effect” in the second part of the sentence. They’re both verbs, so use “affect” both times.

    2. Also, it’s a question, so where’s the question mark?

    Sorry, but if you consider yourself a professional writer, proof your work. We’ll all take you more seriously then.

  10. David G. Mitchell says:

    Claudia — You are correct. Unfortunately, I sent Jeffrey the wrong draft of my article and it had a few typos. That said, I appreciate your pointing out the errors. Of course, I still do not consider myself a professional writer . . . . just an aspiring one!

  11. Joan says:

    I wouldn’t mind the author deleting the proofreader’s comment, nor this encouragement to do so.

  12. Your oldest son is the very reason why I never let on to any of the jerks out there that I had any money when I was single. What an ass.

  13. Jay Gatsby says:

    I believe that a man should marry a woman who is financially independent and wants to stay that way. For the past 40 years, feminists have insisted that they are equal (if not superior) to men in the workplace. As such, women have established parity in earning potential when you account for all of the personal choice variables. The “women earn 78 cents for ever a dollar a man makes” has been proven a fallacy.

    I married my wife not only because I cared deeply for her, but also because she earned as much as I did, loved her job, and doesn’t want to quit even after we have a couple of kids. She would much rather have daycare until they are old enough to go to school. This may be a child-rearing philosophy others don’t agree with, but my wife and I believe it is important to ensure that we have financial security to cut back on working when our kids are older and need us more. By the time they start school, my wife and I should have enough to retire early if we wish, or scale back our work schedules as needed.

    Love is a nice sentiment, but there is a different between early-relationship love and mature, marriage-based love. The former often blinds you to the kind of person your soon-to-be spouse truly is, while the latter is the means by which your spouse demonstrates her value to you. Unfortunately, and as my 98-year old grandfather put it to me before I got married, you don’t know if you’ve made the right decision until you’ve been married 20 years. I’m not quite of that mindset, as I do believe you can tell the type of person your soon-to-be spouse is before you marry him or her. You won’t know how much value he or she will bring to the marriage, but you can at least weed out the abusers and the gold-diggers.

  14. Ann says:

    Thought that I’d come back and see what people had to say because I find this subject fascinating. 🙂

    I’m going to pass along Petunia’s comment concerning calendars and checkbooks to a friend of mine. I enjoy living alone with good friends to socialize with when I feel like it. She, on the other hand, had a life partner/common law husband of over 20 years who died a few years back of early alzheimers and likes having someone around constantly. Being a bit older — and having made one very bad mistake already, she’s approaching new relationships a bit differently now and will like that idea!

    Definitely the subject is a powder keg, as someone said… but it’s also not an either or situation! 🙂

  15. Disgruntled Subscriber says:

    Oh yeah, you’re the same guy that thought that there are such things as pure bred “Labradoodles” and encouraged people to use their pets to become backyard breeders.
    I guess you are the kind of person that would thinks its right to marry for money, if you think its a good idea to spend $2500 on a dog while many other similar dogs die in animal shelters.

  16. Susan says:

    If you’re fortunate enough to find real love, that’s true wealth.

  17. minny says:

    Marrying for love is a very new concept. Within moneyed families all over the world look at who the children marry.

    Prince William’s girlfriend Kate Middleton was introduced to us as an ‘ordinary girl’ – yeah right! William knows better than to get involved and marry an ‘ordinary’ girl he met at University and there were enough there for him to meet.

    I think it very unlikely that a woman with enough money to keep a man comfortable would squander it by marrying anyone so poor. If someone wants a wealthy wife he had better get his ‘A’ into gear and become wealthy himself!

  18. Gail says:

    Unfortunately it doesn’t take a man coming from a wealthy background to want a wife that will help or completely support him. I’m not sure why my first husband ever married me, it certainly wasn’t for love and what i felt for him fizzled out real fast in the face of how he treated me. But what money I brought in was significant to him.

    What I think is most important in marriage is respect for each other, caring for each other, wanting to build up and support the other. Having common goals and desires in life is extremely important. I’ll take my not very well to do hubby that spent hours last night reading through drug books trying to help me find some relief than a man who doesn’t care that I’m sick or one who is willing to throw money at the problem, but can’t emotionally support me.

    Love or money isn’t really the question. It is when life gets tough, who do you want by your side helping you along?

  19. David G. Mitchell says:

    Disgruntled Subscriber ~ You will note that I do not advocate a philosophy in my column. I pose a question, and it has certainly generated interesting and interested debate. I married for love and that is the only reason that I, personally, believe makes a good marriage — and the past twenty years of my life have proven the truth of that.

    As for my dog. I also love him dearly and I do not consider his breeder a “back-yard breeder.” Rather, she is a fine business woman who has made many clients incredibly happy.

  20. Heather H says:

    Put yourself in more situations where there are people that have lots of money, then fall in love. Hang out at the gas station corner, unemployment or the health department and likelly you will fall in love with not a wealthy person. If you are toothless, ugly, obese, or annoying you just cut out lots of wealthy significant other opportunities! Kick your bad habits, keep up with your health, appearance, education, be a hard worker and make your own money so it wont have to matter.

  21. Cindy M says:

    I wonder what’s the word “love” really mean, anyway? My definition of the word now is far different than it was back about 25 years ago. When I was 28, I married a guy 15 years older than me. Long story short, if you want some peace, and contentment and bits of happiness here and there, far better in my book if you have a good bit in common and similar mindset with your potential marriage partner and be good buddies with a healthy sense of responsibility and duty. That’s what I think of when I here the word “love” now.

  22. Frank says:

    “Marry for money, pay the rest of your life.” Short story: I know someone who married for money. A woman worth, $2-3 Million before her father died and about $16 Million after. He showed up at my house one evening (after walking over a mile to my house) and said, “These women say things that they shouldn’t to their husbands.” He then went on to explain that his wife had just told him that “If I would have known that he was going to such a ‘Fat F**king Pig,’I never would have married you.” He then asked me whether my wife ever said anything like that to me. I said, No; my wife loves me. I may not have the money that my friend has, but I don’t have to eat s**t everyday for the rest of my life. Nuff said.

  23. francine says:

    For your friend who prefers to marry for money and be a kept man and Frank’s emal…he is leaving himself wide open for disrespect in the process. In the end, a woman who prefers love and to be loved genuinely will not buy love. If we only wanted assholes, there’s more than one of them out there:)

    Cheers and Happy Thoughts,


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