As unique and diverse as individuals are, so too are marriages. Marriage may often be viewed as a one-size-fits-all arrangement, complete with love, romance, a shared life. However, some marriages have different dynamics. One type of conscious coupling may involve the goal to “marry rich.” However, while there is no shame in marrying someone who is financially wealthy, it’s important to know that for the most part, as The Beatles famously sang, “Money can’t buy me, love,” and, as the old saying goes, “Money can’t buy happiness.”
An Age-Old Practice
As taboo as the idea of marrying for money may seem, unions based on financial connections have taken place throughout history. Kings and queens often united for the sole purpose of bringing their kingdoms together. A woman was often seen as “marriage-material” based on her dowry, the amount of money or property she (or her family) brought to the marriage. Even Jane Austen's character Elizabeth Bennet, from the classic Pride and Prejudice, describes the turning point of falling in love with her beau when she visited his sizeable estate. But being drawn to his fancy estate, it turns out, was symbolic of having her heart won by a person she loved, not simply an attraction to being rich and fancy.
In Elizabeth Bennet’s 18th century, when women didn't have today’s work opportunities, “marrying well” may have given wives a sense of financial security. Fast forward to the 21st century. Now, when women and men can both be employed, they can be financially independent and might not feel compelled to depend on anyone else for economic support. But does that mean it’s wrong to want a financially beneficial marriage? Not necessarily, but while financial stability is linked to emotional wellness, marrying for wealth alone may lead to emotional bankruptcy.
Marrying Rich: Does it Lead to Happiness?
There is no definitive answer to that question, though it is widely understood that money can’t buy happiness. There are probably two better questions to ask about marriage and money:
1) Does financial wealth make you happier personally and in marriage? It turns out that the extremely wealthy are not immune to problems. While money eases some aspects of life, it can make other areas more difficult:
Emotions and Money
Money—whether you have a gold mine or pocket full of pennies—can elicit strong emotions. Some emotions commonly tied to money may be magnified if a spouse marries for wealth. Fear, guilt, shame, and envy are commonly linked to finances. A person with or without wealth may feel shame for spending unwisely or not managing their money more carefully. A person with wealth may feel guilty for what they have and what others don’t. For a spouse who marries for money, guilt may increase if they begin to question the authenticity of their marriage. Fear can also be a strong emotion related to money. Fear of losing money is common, as is fear of what a person’s financial future may hold. Marrying out of financial fear can lead to relationship challenges, self-doubt, doubt about the relationship, and regret. Looking closely at motivations for marriage and what it takes to form a mutually respectful, authentic relationship that is healthy for both spouses can help make the important life decision about marrying.
Is Marrying for Money a Good Idea?
Reasons for marrying are personal ones. Relationships are subjective. However, marrying just for money will likely not result in greater happiness for an individual or a couple. While financial stability can be good for mental health and, conversely, financial stress has negative impacts on well-being, there is virtually no indication that happiness and happy marriages come from financial wealth alone. If you don’t have a good connection with your spouse, you will likely feel less happy and less fulfilled, regardless of having the freedom to spend, buy, and save what you want.
Discussing finances can be important before and during the marriage. Communicating honestly with a potential spouse about financial security, values about money, budgets, and spending and saving can be healthy for marriage and its individuals. So, while money can’t buy love or happiness, healthy relationships and a sense of financial stability can help with well-being and life satisfaction.
Research shows that good relationships are the most consistent predictor of a happy life. So, investing in relationships may be key to earning strong return dividends.
Therapy Can Help
If you or a loved one is experiencing mental health concerns or would like to work on building healthy, positive relationships, please reach out for help. Licensed mental health professionals are available to work with you and support you at BetterHelp. BetterHelp offers both individual and couples counseling with licensed, experienced therapists. You deserve to live a rich life, which is something that money can’t buy.