Would you marry for money?

Would you marry for money?  We know, or have known, people who do want to.  It would sure be nice to have that outside income that doesn’t require one to say, work for it.  It’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich [person] as with a poor one, to paraphrase a Marilyn Monroe character in a movie.

Even if one isn’t gold-digging for a rich spouse and a life of luxury, money can be a signal of other personality aspects.  Some people (even high earners) want to marry someone who earns more than they do because it signals that the person has what it takes… they’re a doctor or lawyer or investment banker.  Unless the person inherited the wealth, a high earner generally isn’t lazy.

On the other hand, money can act as power differential.  In economic models, the bread-winner also has more say in family decision making (or greater “bargaining power”).  I would have to have complete and utter trust in my spouse (or at least an iron-clad pre-nup) before giving up a career and income stream of my own.  Additionally, as someone who grew up several income quintiles away from rich, I think I might feel uncomfortable marrying someone who inherited a much higher economic class if I were expected to give up my life to fit into some Real Housewives or Hamptons lifestyle.

We’re both still with our high school sweethearts, and, given said sweethearts don’t have family wealth and trust funds to fall back on, we made those decisions before we knew about their earning power.  (There are so many guys we could have dated who are now multi-millionaires!  But we made the right choices.  Maybe if instead of graduate school we’d gone to Silicon Valley…)  But I don’t know what our choices would have been if we’d waited until most people have established careers to settle down.  Would I be willing to date a part-time barista?  What if he was slumming as a barista but had a large trust fund?  Or if he was a barista as a day job but really a writer?  I can’t say.  I can say that if my partner stops earning money, I will be happy to support him with whatever he wants to do.  But in terms of seeking someone new out… I hope I never have to figure out the answer to that question.

Related:  Femmefrugality discusses sugarbabies.

What about you?  Would you marry for money?  Do/Did income, wealth, or career influence your dating life?

26 Responses to “Would you marry for money?”

  1. feMOMhist (@feMOMhist) Says:

    my first husband inherited $ trust me I earned every luxury we had. I do have fond memories of the travel and hired help but would not trade my life now for those miserable days again

  2. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    When PhysioWife and I started dating, we were both graduate/professional students with hardly any money. As things turned out years later, she now earns a f*cketonne more money than I do. And yes, she is exceedingly intelligent, hard-working, and effective at what she does.

  3. Leah Says:

    Income did influence my dating life. It was awkward to date a guy who made too much or too little. I once dated a business manager who had been an investment banker, and that lifestyle was too much for me. Plus, I was in full-on student mode, and our schedules completely clashed. Hard to have a late night date (after teaching an evening class) with a guy who woke up at 5 am to go work out.

    I also didn’t want to date folks who made absolutely nothing. I did that in high school and paid for all the dates. Blegh. But those who were about where I was worked out just fine. We could treat each other for dates, and we had similar ideas about where to go when we went out. We could also do lots of home-cooking (and this was with more than a few guys I dated during grad school). Ultimately, it turned out that I married a guy who is currently earning more than me, but we should earn about the same amount once my career finally gets going. And when we first met, he had just started his first real job, and I was on an internship, so frugality prevailed from all corners.

    What I’ve discovered is that it’s easiest to date someone who has a similar attitude and disposition about money. It’s not quite about how much that person has. Rather, it’s about when/how that person is willing to spend their money.

  4. Belle Says:

    I married for sex on a regular basis and companionship. Wrong reasons. I did learn a $hitload of powerful lessons, one being that two people need to be in the same relationship for the same, or at least, similar reasons. And, more importantly, have the same ideas about what that or any relationship means. Marry for money? No. But it’s the same answer for marry.

  5. Michelle Says:

    I would not marry for money. I’ve been with him for almost 6 years, so that’s pretty much proof. Money doesn’t sway me.

    • michelle Says:

      I totally agree. I’ve been with him for almost seven years and have no desire to marry him. I do wish he was the right person though. I feel like I’m in limbo needing his money.

  6. Linda Says:

    I think we can delude ourselves into marrying for all sorts of reasons. I was married for 11 years. It never really worked on a relationship level, but we both came out ahead financially because of the support we gave each other in our career development. I’m not sure I could pin down the reasons I got married as neatly as Belle did above, but I certainly learned a lot from it, too.

    I’d rather not get married again, but as the non-hetero in this country have made abundantly clear there are rights that can be obtained only through marriage. I’d like to see a domestic partnership option that works for everyone and doesn’t have the same baggage as the word “marriage.”

    Values about money and upbringing/class are very important in successful relationships. I know we like to think of our society as classless, but that’s not true. People in the U.S. who are different in other ways (skin color, ethnic group, financial status, etc.) can relate to each other much more successfully if they are from the same class or upbringing.

  7. Cloud Says:

    No, I wouldn’t marry for money. Although my husband and I joke regularly that one of us should have been independently wealthy!

    My husband and I are in similar income brackets now, but I make more money than him and always have. There was a time when I made almost twice what he made. He’s caught up quite a bit.

    I have often wondered if the fact that I make more money than my husband, and always have, has anything to do with the fact that we have a very equal home life. I hope not, and I don’t really think so- he has said that he is drawn to smart, independent women, and when I ask him why he does 50% of the work around the house when so many men don’t, he just says that it is obvious that he should. However, our particular income distribution certainly makes it easier to shut up busybodies who wonder why I don’t stay at home with the kids. I just point out that it would make more financial sense for my husband to stay home, and say he didn’t want to. And for some reason, that ends the conversation in a way that saying “I didn’t want to” does.

  8. bogart Says:

    No. I married the guy I did because he is a wonderful dad, and yes, I knew that, because he had kids from a previous marriage. He is also a good partner; the attributes of good dad and good partner overlap significantly, if not perfectly. I do at times wish he had planned ahead better (he is now retired) and/or had more ambition (including in the present day) but I think of people as package deals and don’t imagine I could tweak the one aspect (create some alternative universe) without affecting others.

    As a kid growing up I had one friend in particular (but many others with the same basic pattern) whose dad remarried and then allowed his new wife to basically force my friend (his minor child, and by a lot, like 8 years old when the marriage occurred?) out of his life, pretty much completely (some friends’ dads skipped the “new wife” step and jumped straight to the ignoring/not providing for the kids steps). As the dad was a widower and competent extended family were scarce to non-existent (there were literally none on the deceased mother’s side), this was truly tragic. I have my worries, but that my hubby would ever not care for or provide for his (our) kid? Not among them. That said, the estate-for-the-kid is provided in trust-not-managed-(exclusively)-by-hubby because while the man is a saint in many ways, his ability to manage resources and plan for the future is less than I would like. He’d care for DS in the immediate and short-term future fabulously, but wouldn’t excel at planning for potential contingencies…

    Marry money as a side effect? Well, maybe, but if it were anything other than the “millionaire next door” sort, its possessor and I probably wouldn’t have much in common.

  9. Liz Says:

    I wouldn’t marry for money per se, but characteristics that I find desirable in a partner include being ambitious with one’s career, having achieved some form of higher education, and being smart with personal finances. None of these neccessarily equate with being rich, but they are quite correlative with being financially comfortable. I don’t think that I could marry someone who had a very different approach or attitude towards handling money than I do.

  10. femmefrugality Says:

    At a certain point in my life I totally would have! But no more. I smoothed out my jaded edges and decided to give this whole “love” thing another go. That’s a really interesting question about if you have to shop the market at a more mature age…when people have pretty much proven what their earning potential is. I’d have to say it still would have very little effect on my decision. I like what Leah said about compatibility, though. Similar earning power is probably the best for the longevity of the relationship. (<—How cool is it that we live in a time where I can say that?)

  11. femmefrugality Says:

    Pee ess Thanks for the mention!

  12. MutantSupermodel Says:

    Funny enough the local news ran a story on one of those sugar matching sites because our local public university is one of the top universities on it. Not surprising when you consider the culture down here.
    But related to your post and your question, no I wouldn’t marry for money because it just isn’t important to me.

  13. Pamela Says:

    I heard a saying that boiled down to this: Those people who marry for money earn every penny. I couldn’t do it–I’d be on the clock 24/7. No thanks.

    I’d marry for love, lust, and the fact that the guy I was marrying shared my values and was respectful and generally a good person.

  14. Debbie M Says:

    I wouldn’t marry for money–I marry for brains. Or at least that’s what I date for (never married). The means I mostly end up with computer programmers, who make 2 – 3 times as much as me, although my last guy was unemployed when we started dating and still makes only 10% more than me.

    Once my sister married a military guy and she kept moving around all the time and couldn’t get a job, but then got upset that he wanted her to iron his uniforms (admittedly, much more obnoxious than regular ironing because of all the rules), but I thought that if my “job” were helping my man deal with wacked-out working hours, etc., that would be a lot more fun than most real jobs I’ve had.

    I have a friend who married someone for the insurance–she gave him insurance and a place to stay while he wrote his book and he gave her live-in help. They were just friends, though.

    I don’t make a good trophy wife–not cute enough; not willing to do the make-up, high heels and plastic surgery (or even braces); mouth is too big; elbows like to go on the table.

    The power differential is an issue though. Or actually, just the power of money and the power to earn it. I want the ability to not have to work that hard (or at all), even if it means I have to live a frugal lifestyle, but not if it means I have to become dependent. Do I want to drag someone else down into a frugal lifestyle if he’s making plenty of money and enjoying his job? And then what if something happens to his job and I still really don’t want to hold up my end?

  15. mareserinitatis Says:

    Married first time because I thought I was in love, but my ex felt it was my job to support him while he flunked out of school repeatedly. After we split, I wasn’t looking for someone rich, but I expected him to be able to support himself. If he couldn’t at least do that (or make a pretty good effort), I wasn’t going to put myself through that again. I met someone who was able to do that but also ended up being fairly hardworking and ambitious. I can’t say that I married him for money, but I can say that the traits that led to his financial stability were pretty important. However, it also helped that he wasn’t crazy and full of himself. :-D

  16. Rumpus Says:

    The world can be so lonely. I would not marry for money.

  17. Leigh Says:

    I don’t think I could marry for money, but I do definitely think that socioeconomic status affects my dating life.

    Most of the guys I meet are people I meet through friends and most of my friends work in my industry. This means that most of the guys I date make a comparable income to me, though honestly, I have made more money than all of the guys I’ve dated. I couldn’t imagine dating someone who made a significant amount of money less than me to the point that we couldn’t afford the same vacations or style of living.

    That being said, I think that what matters more is how we approach money. I would far prefer to date someone who makes half my income and lives below his means than someone who makes half my income and has credit card debt.

  18. chacha1 Says:

    I dated based on mutual interests and, when it came to money, fair play – I never had the expectation of getting a free ride all the time, but I also wasn’t willing to be the one always putting money IN to a relationship. Until that last thing where I ended up supporting him for three years and then getting basically robbed.

    But back to the real question … what Leah and Liz said. Similar views about money tend to track pretty closely to a basic worldview compatibility.

    Ultimately, though, I married (for the first time, at 35) because he was the one man I ever wanted to marry. He makes me feel good. He smooths out my jangly vibe. We were both broke when we met, we both had good earning power, but our connection really isn’t about money.

  19. Carnival of Personal Finance: The Little Prince's Journey to Financial Enlightenment | Well Heeled Blog Says:

    […] fall victim to price anchoring? [Smart on Money], co-signing a loan [Christian Debt Coach], and marrying for money [Nicole & Maggie] before you learn what works and what […]

  20. Bobbi Says:

    Nope, I would rather be the one making the money.

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