In her new book, Elizabeth Gilbert explores the pros and cons of marriage. And as she points out in her book, married men find in marriage a lot of benefits, while it’s not necessarily the case for married women. In sociology, this is called the marriage benefit imbalance. The author gives the example of her grandmother, who made her fortune when she was young and single, but had to leave her life behind her when she got married to raise her children and run the house. And her fortune was quickly depleted by the numerous expenses of the farm.
This happened many years ago, and nowadays, women don’t quit their job anymore to raise their children. Yet, when you see the statistics for working women compared to their male counterparts, there is something alarming too. For the same job and qualifications, a woman is still underpaid compared to a man. She’s also likely to be less productive when she gets pregnant, because she will ask for time off to raise the kids. And she’s likely to refuse promotion just because it requires to work more hours.
When women get married, most of the time, it’s because they are in love. And it is commonly agreed that when you get married, it’s for establishing kinship for purpose of defense. It’s the foundation for raising your children. In my country, this is becoming an exception since people don’t wait to get married for having kids. But then, it becomes a problem when divorce gets in the way, because the woman can’t ask for spousal support like she could if she was married.
Yet, there are women who find their fortune into marriage. The most obvious example is the likes of Anna-Nicole Smith, who marry very old but very rich dudes to inherit their fortune. There’s also those who win the lottery when they divorce, because they managed to get an astronomical spousal support (see the divorce section in the Wall Street/City columns). But there are also those who find their fortune on their own. This is the case of one of my friends, who becomes a famous photographer five years after she got married. Unfortunately for her, her marriage didn’t bear her success, and she got divorced two years ago. Luckily for her, she married under the separation of goods, so her ex couldn’t pretend to have a dime from her newly found glory. On a less tragic note, my aunt also made her fortune after she got married. Her employee gave her the opportunity to finance her college studies, while allowing her to take time for studying. My uncle helped her running the house while she was busy with her studies. My cousin was just six when she started this. Thanks to her diploma, she could reach a better job.
So, if we go back to the ancient definition of marriage, my aunt’s example would be a great one for illustrating how a marriage offers you safety in numbers. Of course, my aunt could have done her studies if she was single too. But I guess having the support of your husband and son in this battle is also worth the fight.
In the end, I believe that fortune and marriage aren’t incompatible. It just depends on how you want to make your marriage work. This also applies for those who aren’t married, just in a relationship.
So, do you believe in marriage?