For the Love or Money

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I know a woman who married for money. I know a lot of them, as I’m sure you do. I also know a woman or two who shacked up with a guy cuz she was anxious to have a baby before the equipment crapped out.

I know a few women who got married for green cards, my wife included. She loves me to death on top of it, but love isn’t really why she married me.

I know a woman who I’m betting got married because she’s too afraid to be on her own.

I got married for the health insurance, I don’t deny it. I don’t believe in marriage as an institution—I don’t believe in MOST institutions.

But I’m meant to be talking about love here, not marriage, though marriage is supposed to be based on love, right? “First comes love, then comes…”

A lot of people get married for reasons besides love. Love is not even at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to finding someone to date.

A lot of women are looking for a man with money—speaking generally and in a heteronormative way, of course—while most men just want a woman who’s fun to watch.

 

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We humans are shallow creatures, mostly for practical reasons. True love is only for the wise or the lucky, and most people are smart enough to know they’re neither. So they give up on love early and settle for money or looks or, hopefully, both.

Don’t get me wrong: A lot of guys would love to wife up a sugar momma, only that kind of relationship remains less socially acceptable than polygamy, which most people at least understand. After all, a lot of women value a man with money above any other kind, so a man with three or five or even a dozen wives makes sense, if he can afford them.

But a rich woman married to a broke man, even a pretty one? That scenario doesn’t fly with anyone except broke men and ugly rich women, because a woman with money who’s at least halfway decent-looking should be able to snag a man who has about as much money as she does, if not loads more.

That’s the average thinking, anyway, as I understand it.

If you know me personally, then you’re probably thinking about how my wife makes way more money than me and supported my broke ass when I was trying to make this writing thing go. But if you know her personally, then you know I got with her when she wasn’t exactly Queen Elizabeth II—may she rot in pieces—and my wife only started making really good money after we moved to Vegas.

I chose love over money, and ended up with both. So none of what I’m saying here about love and money applies to me or my wife…

The woman I know who married for money—again, I know a lot of them, but I’m thinking of one in particular—this woman really believes she’s made it. She really believes she’s successful.

I get why.

She was born and raised in a poor part of Latin America and now she’s lamping in million-dollar homes on different continents. She had like three weddings, each one in a different part of the world, each one fancy.

Plus everyone around her treats her as if she were a self-made woman, as if she had earned her wealth or at least were more deserving of it than most people.

It’s a damn lie. This supposed success story is merely a greedy, conniving woman with a pretty face and thin waist who let her boss slide up in her. He might’ve been married at the time.

And for that, she acts like she’s Oprah.

I think a lot of women, especially when they’re younger, actively dream of living lavish lifestyles, with trips to far-off places, eating at exclusive restaurants, champagne at every meal, infinity pools, walk-in closets the size of an average bedroom, lined with designer everything, and a rich, handsome husband who pays for it all, or at least the bulk of it.

They want to live exactly like the Kardashians do. Some of them wouldn’t even mind all the TV cameras and flashing lights in their face. But without Kardashian money, or any hope of ever bagging it for themselves, the best they can shoot for is a man who comes as close as possible.

Love is vaguely a part of these women’s dreams. Most people don’t know what love is—not real, capital-L love. I’ve been married for over a decade and I’m still learning what It is every week.

Some women, I’m sure, stay married their whole lives and never feel true love, kinda like Mother Theresa admitted, toward the end of her life, that she hadn’t felt God in her soul for the last 50 years.

She was just going through the motions.

“In the name of the Father… the Son…” yada yada yada.

Just like a lot of married people.

I knew a woman, the mother of a friend, who let slip one night after too much wine that she wasn’t in love with her husband, my friend’s father. She said her true love was some Romeo she’d known back in college, but that when my friend’s dad came along, with his fancy business degree and job title, her parents pressured her to marry him.

For the money.

I can still hear my friend’s mom speaking softly as she told us the story late one night. I can still see the look on her face—that sad, hopeless look of “what if.”

She was in her early 50s, and died of cancer a few years later.

Money can buy you everything in the world—and almost anyone, too—but money can’t buy you the two most important things there are, the two that make life worth living in the end. “Something that can make you do wrong, make you do right,” as God put it

Love and happiness.

Money can’t make you happy. Nothing you can buy can either. Money makes life easier, but not happier. And while money can buy fancy meals and trips around the world—things that generally help with the happiness—a good meal or new experience feels empty without someone special to share it with.

I saw someone online make the argument that money is more important than love.

“Don’t think for a second you can survive in this century, in this world, only on love with ZERO money,” the guy was saying. “If love was all you needed to be happy in life then the poor would be the happiest, most content people on the planet.”

I actually think the poor are “the happiest, most content people on the planet.” In fact, I bet the happiest person in the world makes less than $50,000 a year, if not way less, and yet they’re happier and more filled with life than anyone living in Calabasas, the White House, or Buckingham Palace.

Back in ancient Turkey there was this king, Croesus, who was so famously wealthy that the saying “richer than Croesus” became popular with the Greeks and has lasted for 2500 years.

One day he met Solon, who was as wise as Croesus was wealthy, and after the king showed him his palace and all his stuff, he asked Solon who the luckiest man in the world was. Solon named some Greeks who had lived good lives, were good men, had good families, and died defending their cities, after which they were honored by their people.

Croesus was offended that this supposed know-it-all didn’t name Croesus, the world’s richest man, as its luckiest, or at least one of them. But Solon explained that you can’t judge how lucky someone is, or how happy they are, until they’re dead.

Croesus’ only son was later killed by a spear through the eye in a freak accident, and after the Persians invaded and conquered his kingdom, his wife committed suicide and the king himself was dragged in chains through the streets of his fallen capital before he was burned alive.

According to the old story, as the flames grew around his feet, Croesus realized just how right the wise old Greek had been, shouting Solon’s name with his last breath.

So while a lot of people these days are trying to be richer than Croesus, I’ll settle for love and happiness.

 

Featured image by Oengna/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Hector is the founder and editor of MANO as well as the host of the LATINISH podcast. A Chicagoan living in Las Vegas, he's also the senior editor of Latino Rebels, part of Futuro Media, as well as a former managing editor of Gozamos, an art-activism site based in his home town. He was a columnist at RedEye, a Tribune-owned daily geared toward millennials. His work has been mentioned by The New Yorker, Good Morning America, TIME, the Washington Post, and other outlets, and his writing was featured in 'Ricanstruction, 'a comic book anthology whose proceeds went toward recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. He studied history at the University of Illinois-Chicago where his concentration was on ethnic relations in the United States.

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