For Love or Money

When WH and I first got engaged, my father, who had gracefully given my hand, had a private conversation with me. He said that I was smart, and beautiful and kind. He said that I could easily marry a stockbroker, for example, and live in a quarter of a million dollar house, without having to work another day in my life. He asked me; “are you sure this is what you want”?

WH was (and is) smart, hardworking and talented. He did not have a degree, however, and he wasn’t making much. We were young- I was nineteen, he was twenty-three, and neither one of us had anything terribly lucrative on the horizon. My father was concerned for my comfort and welfare, and I have a deep appreciation and affection for his intentions.

I promptly answered that if I married a stockbroker and lived as a housewife in a half a million dollar house, I would just end up sleeping with the gardener, as I needed to be watered, weeded and fed much, much more than I needed wealth. “I’ll marry for love, Daddy, and hope that the money comes. I would rather do that than marry for money and hope for love.” He accepted this answer, gracefully, and said to me on my wedding day that he was proud of me for walking into my marriage with open eyes and having the courage to follow through.

I am now in a position where I trade time with my husband for money, in a more direct way than retail or office jobs entail. The juxtaposition is hard for me; a heady mix of guilty pleasure and some resentment, if the money was being counted on and the time was unplanned. I put a higher value on love than money, but you can’t eat your principals and the mortgage company doesn’t take love.

Some close friends of ours are in dire, dire straits. He is not doing well financially, working on commission. The financial tension is unbearable, and she was immature and entitled before he began to struggle. She has become emotionally and psychologically abusive in the face of their financial ruin. I believe that she loves him. I also believe that in addition to being immature and having an entitlement attitude, she is resentful and frustrated, and scared. It is easier to lash out at him, for failing, than to face her own role in their position, and to help him keep it together.

We are supposed to be liberated, we aren’t supposed to uphold the old standard of a male breadwinner. Still, we all have that image, that ideal, or at least the expectation that our husbands will provide us with a sense of security. For them to deny that responsibility is a betrayal. Even if all we expect is their equal contribution and not to bet the rent money.

This man, though, busts his ass to try and make a comfortable life for his wife. She makes a decent living and only pays minimal expenses toward the household from it. He pays for everything else. Except that he can’t right now. He needs her help, financially, and her support, emotionally, to get through this and get back on track. Not only will she not help him, but she is degrading him and rubbing his nose in his failure every chance she gets.

Meanwhile, I had an extra unplanned weekend with WH, one that makes things tighter than they were for a few weeks, already. We will get by; we always do, but it will take more planning, concentration and effort on my part. I get frustrated when I make plans and they unravel, and money is an important part of my security. I feel unsettled when things are this close. That’s what this weekend with WH cost me.

In the end, though, the value is high. The time we have together, knowing that we share the struggle of being apart, respite from that struggle, and the chance to be his soft place to land- this is worth so much more than I pay in stress and sacrifice. If it wasn’t, what would be the point of being together?

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2 Responses

  1. Wow. I’m wishing I had your maturity when I was married the first time.
    Of course, my ex drank away the money I earned. I was truly liberated. LOL. I worked, he drank. LOADS of resentment there.
    But I learned from that. I learned to be appreciative of the one who earns even if it’s hard to swallow. I learned to be independent. I learned to work even if I didn’t want to. It knocked ALL the entitlement out of me.
    My second husband and I fight about money, but only because he gets frustrated with my lack of accounting skills. Frankly, so do I. I haven’t figured out how to make it better. Yet.
    Congrats on being a very admirable woman in these days.

  2. I am so ipressed with where your head is at – I, like you ,marrief for love and not money but the money did come and we are living a nice, comfortable life. It is so essential that you have the foundation to uphold your vows or nothing will matter in the end..absolteuly nothing (as evidenced by the couple you were speaking of) I wish you the best and know that you will succeed.

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