It’s always puzzled me how a girl with weak or zero financial prospects can marry a wealthy man and no one bats an eyelid.
But should the situation be reversed, should a woman earn even slightly more than her man, or be perceived to, then he’s seen as a sad and sorry weakling not fit for her company.
A guy like that would be lucky to get a look-in anyway, from what I hear. A friend was the only unmarried guest (her long-term boyfriend counted for nothing) at a hens’ weekend recently and copped a barrage of financial advice.
“Marry well,” she was instructed. “Be strategic – we all have been.” The host was marrying a banker targeted when she got a tip-off on his Christmas bonus, and was holding the hens’ soiree at his parents’ beach house.
The guests put $400 into a kitty, which my friend assumed was for champagne but turned out to be for cocaine. Usually yawning with boredom, they were having a wild weekend away from their husbands.
But they’d chosen them with considered intent, they assured my friend. Now they could relax.
I assumed workforce equality and almost-equal pay gave us the freedom to marry for love.
It seems the old female fantasy of snaring a rich bloke is alive and well, but the stats show otherwise. Women are marrying down. In droves. Twenty-one per cent of women earn more than their partners, and 12 per centof women aged 25 to 29 with degrees are married to men without degrees.
That may be so, but they’re certainly not shouting it from the rooftops. Girls I know whose husbands earn less (or, heaven forbid, are stay-at-home dads) are spoken of in hushed tones as if there’s something wrong with the poor soul.
He must be deficient if he can’t go out and earn a decent wage to support his family. A former work colleague’s husband is a sculptor. He exhibits to great acclaim and is a wonderful father to their two boys, but the disdain is apparent.
Not from her. She wouldn’t have it anyother way. But from other women.
It would be nice to think love overrides anything material, like it does on the big screen. In the French film Priceless, Audrey Tautou’s character pursues unattractive Euroed-up men for the pay-off of Chanel dresses and chic hotels, but love prevails when she falls for a penniless waiter.
But we don’t get to see what happens after the credits roll. Maybe financial struggle can erode even the truest love.
Women may be showing early signs of scaling down, but they clearly have a threshold. Of Aussie blokes earning less than $20,000, fewer than half are married. They only get lucky when they start bringing home the bacon, with 76 per cent of men on $90,000-plus managing to find a wife, and it sails up from there.
What shallow cows, it’s tempting to cry, but perhaps women marrying up for practical reasons is necessary to sustain the species. We all know it ain’t easy to work and raise babies, so if a girl chooses a man on the basis of his ability to provide, you can see the sense in it.
The chosen men don’t seem to mind. If everyone’s happy, I guess we should just leave them to it. Men on paltry incomes need not fear. For every woman marrying down, there’s a man marrying up.
There’s always a place for a guy who knows how to love, and last the distance.
This column appeared in the Sunday Telegraph on on April 22nd, 2007