Do Women Still Want to Marry for Money?

June 22, 2010 at 3:20 AM 23 comments

When a friend of the family announced her engagement my mom remarked that the bride was ‘marrying well’. While I think ‘marrying well’ means different things to different people, (it would mean marrying someone extremely compatible to me), my mom meant that the bride was marrying a man from a very wealthy family.

As my mom and I talked about the engagement I began to wonder how many women still strive to marry a man with money. After all, in this day and age where a woman can make just as much, if not more than her husband, how important is it for the man to come from an affluent family or have a high income job?

As I was talking to my mom I realized that most of her friends and her friend’s children, (now young adults), have married men that earn much more than they do. In fact, many of the women quit their jobs immediately after getting married in order to stay at home and have children.

My mom says it’s not the amount of money that makes a difference in a marriage, but rather the ideas the husband and wife hold about how that money will be earned and spent. My mom didn’t marry for money, but like many of her friends she did want to marry a man who would be willing to support her while she stayed at home to care for her children.

My dad provided the means for my mom to stay at home with my brother and I, but he set ground rules for their finances. He told my mom he’d purchase a modest home, with a relatively small mortgage that would enable them to raise a family, but not live beyond their means. If my mom wanted to stay home with us she would have to spend mindfully and make certain not to extend their budget. My mom was more than happy to forgo shopping trips and other expenses for the pleasure of being a full time stay-at-home mom.

Of course, I think things are a little different now then they were when my mom was married in the early 70s. These days women can make more than then their husbands, less than their husbands or stay-at-home and not make any money at all. There are so many options available to women these days, but I do wonder if marrying for money remains one of the goals.

While women may not strive to marry a wealthy man, do they strive to marry a man that makes more than they do? Are the stereotypical, bread-winning roles of men important to women? If women want children do they want a man who makes enough money to provide them the option of staying-at-home?

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23 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Beth  |  June 22, 2010 at 5:35 AM

    In the 90s, I believe it was, a study found that marriages lasted longer when the man made more than the woman. I don't recall the exact year but it was definitely after a time when people "shouldn't care about such things."

    As for marrying a man that makes more, I think it depends on the woman. The female who wants to stay home and raise children is more likely to care about that than the woman who would rather not.

  • 2. Maureen  |  June 22, 2010 at 11:49 AM

    Many Women in your Mum,s age bracket and that includes me have lived through some tough times financially and although we all married for love, we can all see the benefits of marrying someone who is reasonably well off. The younger generation and that includes my own children are still looking at marriage through rose tinted glasses, and putting love first. Remember the saying you can,t live on love alone.

  • 3. Emma  |  June 23, 2010 at 2:22 PM

    I don't think that marrying for money is how I'd put it, but I think that people very much still follow the traditions of the man being the bread-winner for the family. In my premarriage counseling just over a year ago, we were actually told that we needed to be able to live off of my husband's salary alone, and that mine (my husband and I make the exact same amount) should be for 'fun' stuff and extras. While some might be appalled by that advice, I've come to see the reasoning behind it.

    Even if you aren't planning on having kids, not having sex is the only infallible way to avoid the little rugrats. I know quite a few people who learned what 99.9% effective actually meant, and there are enough "oops" babies out there to know that they happen sometimes regardless of your plans.

    So what if you weren't planning on having kids until you saved up X amount of money or until you used both of your salaries to pay off all the debt so that you could live on his salary alone, but halfway through (you can't pay all of your payments on one salary alone) you get pregnant? Sure, you get maternity leave (which last I checked was 6 weeks?) and then you have an EXTRA payment (not even including the extra costs for kids – diapers, wipes, furniture, bedding, toys, clothes, bottles since you'll be working, formula, health care costs) for daycare. When will you be able to stop working? Not for much longer.

    Also, what if after you have your baby you really don't want to go back to work? You can cut some costs that way (breast feed, no day care costs) but if you weren't already able to live on one salary, you aren't going to be able to do it with an extra mouth to feed.

    That was rather long-winded, and I apologize for that, but I think that considering those possibilities makes the idea of marrying someone more well off (or who makes more) a lot more appealing.

    Also, one other thing – sometimes it's for the guy's sake that he makes more. It sounds sexist, but a lot of guys are taught from a young age that the man is the provider and that the man is the one who should be working. If he's been taught that, your needing to work can make him feel like less of a man. If he's been 'indoctrinated' with that belief, your making more than him will only nag him at the back of his head and tell him that he's less of a man and that he is failing in his duties. Regardless of whether you believe it, most guys feel that way deep down.

  • 4. asithi  |  June 23, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    I married for love and I make significantly more than my husband does at this time. Even though money is not a factor, it would be nice to have the option to stay at home or work part time when we have kids. Instead it is my husband who has these options, but he does not want them. So our kids will end up in day care. But you never know, this is a snapshot of our finances now.

    Within a few years and a few more promotions, it might change. One thing a friend taught me about marriage is that the role of the breadwinner can change many times in a marriage.

  • 5. Zoomba  |  June 23, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    Maureen – That's a bit of a cynical way of putting things I feel. Yes, it's important to consider financial stability (i.e. be careful about marrying someone with a mountain of debt and no job), but for it to be more important than love in a marriage strikes me as a bit sad.

    To say someone is "looking at marriage through rose tinted glasses" because they put love first seems condescending and honestly unfortunate. If practicality and financial stability are priorities ahead of love in getting married, it seems like like maybe those people are getting married for the wrong reasons

  • 6. Alice  |  June 23, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    For what it's worth, I earned more than my ex husband throughout our 12yr relationship, and while that isn't why we split up (he cheated on me), it's been a bit of an adjustment to be in a two-income relationship with my current partner, let alone one where he earns more than me.

    I can't imagine staying home and not having my own work, and my own income, but at least I'm not the _only_ one contributing to the bills this time.

    Mind you, he's been burned in the past by partners more interested in what he could buy than in him, so his 'wishlist' when he met me included 'financially literate' and 'employed'.

  • 7. Anonymous  |  June 23, 2010 at 6:47 PM

    I earned more than my husband for a few years after we were married. I didn't care then about the difference until after my son was born. By then, we had bought a house and had a mortgage.

    When my son was 2 1/2, and I was pregnant eith another baby, I was laid off from the high income cushy job. Unfortunately, I had to find another job after my daughter was born. (I wanted to be a stay at home mother at that point).

    Now I have 2 kids in school and have an unfulfilling job that pays half the salary of the job I had when I got married. The husband is still employed but I am an extremely unhappy working mother (and the hubby knows it!)

    My husband should earn twice as much as he earns now and I should earn zero or at least work part time. So, I agree that it's important to take finances into account when looking for a potential husband.

    Even if you don't care about staying home now, everything changes when you have a baby or when you have a good job, a baby, and then lose the good job and want to stay home. It's nice to have choices in life.

  • 8. Meredith  |  June 23, 2010 at 10:44 PM

    Wow. Both my husband and I make close amounts – sometimes I've made more, sometimes he's made more.

    Our goal is that each of us gets to stay home with the kids a bit, and neither of us has to give up work.

  • 9. Lara  |  June 24, 2010 at 1:55 AM

    I didn't go looking for a man with money. I did go looking for a man that was intelligent, motivated, generous, and responsible. My husband was a broke college student when we got married, but I knew he had the potential to earn a good income and amass a decent level of wealth over time.

  • 10. JPH  |  June 24, 2010 at 1:56 PM

    Kids are not a factor for my husband and I, and I'm not sure "there's an offchance that I'll want to be a stay-at-home-mom someday" is really the biggest factor when it comes to choosing a moneyed mate.

    For me, the fact that my husband could stand on his own two feet, work hard, pay his bills, and generally live like a real adult all on his own was vastly more important. It's awesome to have a husband who is able to support himself. It's a sign of maturity and it's very desirable. Also he can do his own laundry. Who wouldn't want that? I can support myself too, so we both win.

    After college, I was much more interested in a grown-up partner than a "Knocked-Up" slacker dude stereotype.

  • 11. Anonymous  |  June 24, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    I guess I'm the only guy leaving a comment here. It's sad that women will put how much a man makes on a pedestal higher than love. I find it somewhat superficial, maybe a western way of thinking… I suppose that's why there are so many unhappy marriages today, so many divorces, and cheating partners. As I am in my early 30s, I will stay single until I can find a good woman.

  • 12. Lauren M  |  June 25, 2010 at 12:02 AM

    I'm really surprised at the comments… what happened to Feminism? I married my best friend right out of university and we are equals in every way, including financially. We each took a parental leave after our son was born and we are both happy with our respective careers. I would be a miserable stay at home mom, as I would never want my identity to revolve solely around domestic roles and I would never want to be dependant upon a man, regardless of how much money he made.

  • 13. Anonymous  |  June 25, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    Let's look at this from a different perspective–there are many men who won't even date/marry a woman who makes significantly more than they do; many men still can't handle this dynamic. In fact, there are many cases where if a woman does have a better career than the man, she's supposed to play it down, otherwise she's being "uppity." And let's face it, across the board women still make less than men in every field, so perhaps pay equity would solve this so-called problem. And how about the standards that men have for women in the attractiveness department? My point–"shallowness" can be attributed to both genders.

  • 14. One Frugal Girl  |  June 27, 2010 at 2:59 AM

    I'm so fascinated by these comments that I've decided to write a follow up post in the hopes of getting more men to leave comments. Based on the subject and the nature of this blog a lot of female readers weighed in. Now I'd love to hear what the men have to say about it.

  • 15. Anonymous  |  June 27, 2010 at 5:45 AM

    @Emma I had a huge follow-up talking about your reply but I deleted it because it's just not worth it.

    Considering 1 partner's income "play money" negates the concept of partnership. You and your spouse are in this game we call life for the long haul with nothing other than each other to rely on. How would you feel if *your* salary was flagged for essentials while your spouse's salary was for "fun stuff" and "extras". That invites all kinds of division as the "play" earner can reduce their efforts or take-home because their contributions to the family aren't as life-critical as the primary breadwinner. IMO you received terrible advice – you should partner with your spouse and fight back-to-back with him to protect and preserve your financial future. "play money" is a cop-out.

    The baby-making dialog is also suspect. Fertility rates drop dramatically after the age of 16 and it's very common for women in their mid to late 20s (and later) to have problems conceiving. Children a wonderful gift that are not by any means a guarantee. If you're blessed enough to have them you should count yourself fortunate.

  • 16. Ruby Leigh  |  June 27, 2010 at 7:34 PM

    At the time I met my husband – he made a little less than me. Then for a while he earned more than me and now we are about tied (not that it's a competition). Anyhow, there were oh so many factors as to why we got married, but I did appreciate that he was driven. Which in his field, translates to a nice income eventually. Throughout our marriage there has been layoffs, contracts ending, and late and no-pay renters. I can't say what a blessing it's been to have multiple streams of income throughout all this. It certainly eases some of the stress.

    Another thing: In the past I did date a guy that was perfectly capable of getting a higher paying job but was working for less than 20k a year. I have to say that this bothered me, but I think it had more to do wanting someone with drive and not dollar signs.

  • 17. benjamin bankruptcy  |  June 29, 2010 at 2:57 AM

    I'm having a fairly similar discussion to your mom and dad with my partner at the moment. I want to sell our expensive house so we only need 1 mortgage… Not going so well. I think because she thought I'd be able to afford her a higher standard of living but at the moment it's not going to happen. I feel like sh&* for not living up to the expectations I guess I created

  • 18. psychsarah  |  July 6, 2010 at 5:02 PM

    I think this might depend on how you figure you'll arrange your financial partnership. My husband and I have our finances 100% combined, so if one of us makes more money, we both benefit. While I was training for my career, he made a lot more than me, but I now I've surpassed him by a lot. We're both happier to have more money to save and do the things we want to do.

    He doesn't have any issue with me making more money (he knew that would be the case with the career path for which I was training). I certainly appreciated his financial support during my training, but didn't seek that out. I have always been very independent, and would have gone down this path regardless. I suppose it comes down to how you were raised-I was raised to be independent, financially and otherwise, so I didn't seek a man to depend on. Others might have been brought up to seek someone to care for them.

  • 19. Broke by Choice  |  July 6, 2010 at 6:18 PM

    I can't speak for all women, but the one's I do know want to have the options to be a stay at home mom for some portion of their children's life. They want to have financial security in their marriage, to do this both people were most likely secure prior to the marriage.

    I want to marry a man that shares similar view and values about money with me. I do want the option to stay at home, but I may not exercise the option.

  • 20. Hope to Prosper  |  July 7, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    I will be happy to weigh in on the subject as a married man.

    Marriage is a partnership. In this day and age, either partner can be the bread winner, the care giver or both. If they prefer to stay at home and can afford to do it, they should. If they would prefer to pursue a career, they should. As long as both partners agree and finances allow, there should be no guilt or judgement of what a couple chooses to do with their finances.

    As for women who marry a man just for their money (aka Gold Diggers), they will likely find money, but they probably won't find happiness. In my opinion, this is a subtle form of prostitution and the moral baggage is about equal.

    As for women who expect a man to be financially responsible, I couldn't agree with you more. Raising children is hard enough, without having to raise a dead-beat husband. The same can be said for wives who can't control their spending. Both are selfish and ruinous to the rest of the family.

    I know this sounds very harsh and judgemental, but it needs to be identified straight-up for what it is.

    I will have been married for 20 years in October and my wife has never worked. I have always supported her and she has always taken care of the children. At times, it was very difficult financially and my wife hasn't always appreciated how hard I have worked. But, I stepped up in my career and my wife did a fine job raising our children. We are happy with our choice, but your choice may be different and that is fine by me.

  • 21. Anonymous  |  November 4, 2010 at 5:27 AM

    I am jealous of those who have wealth not the namby pamby few 100 million or a billion here or there in US Dollar. Real wealth as in close to US$ 200 Billion and above in Money (in family terms), there are such people, you just have to research and look for them, my boss's son married one of his workers a girl and she has one of the best life ever. She was diagnosed as being unable to conceive a child, a few million dollars later they have a healthy baby boy. My boss's son is worth in the deca-millionaire range, owning lots of commercial property, he can stop working anytime but because he does not need to work he spends more time with the family and they have the best of everything. I think the person / she marrying him was smart. And I have my regrets for not approaching him first. The introductions was done by a senior management person, she is his daugther and that person is also a millionaire but still pale in comparison to the guys wealth.

  • 22. Patricia Eyer  |  December 22, 2010 at 7:23 AM

    It is very unnecessary for girls and even guys to get married just for the sake of your partner's money. For me that's so unfair that you marry not because of love but because of money and wealth. And whether we like it or not, we may still experience financial problems because of economic crisis. I'm getting married next month and my fiance is not just as rich as all the rich guys in the world but he always finding ways in order for us to make a living. He always consult his company's Human Resource Management Outsourcing and Human Resources Management Consulting to know everything about his salary and other financial concerns.

  • 23. Paradise to Manhattan  |  September 12, 2011 at 1:31 AM

    doI really think it's more about marrying someone you can wake up next to every morning. It matters more that they're smart with the finances they do have than how much they actually make. My husband and I are both professionals, and make decent money. I actually enjoy our more low-key vacations in the country even though we've been to fancy resorts in Hawaii. Money does not buy happiness and never will. Security is a lot more about how you spend the money you do have than how much you make.


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