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?