Money, Marriage, and Making It

Friday, June 06, 2014

June Carbone, professor of law, science and technology at the University of Minnesota, and co-author of Marriage Markets: How Inequality is Remaking the American Family [Oxford] and Naomi Cahn, professor at George Washington University Law School, and co-author of the book talk about how ideas of success and stability inform marriage, partnerships, and inequality in our society -- and how those forces have changed over time.


Naomi Cahn and June Carbone

Comments [34]

MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Well put @David from Manhattan... you articulated it perfectly. I totally agree.

It's women's right to want what they want, but they don't see the contradictions and delusions between their rhetoric and ideals -- what they say want (egalitarianism, romance, etc.) and how they actually behave (mercenarial (sp?) and calculating.)

Jun. 06 2014 11:35 AM
Sue from Manhattan

I can't help but wonder if posing this question to New Yorkers leads to a very biased discussion. I have a graduate degree and currently in post-graduate training, and it is quite normal for my colleagues (female and male) in their 30s to be single and career-focused. My impression of most New Yorkers is that professional ambition and "making it" drives them. When I see the lives of my high school friends in suburban western NY, most are married with children and living like "grown-ups". The stereotype of the New York Peter Pan mentality probably holds some truth!

Jun. 06 2014 11:06 AM
Jack from Brooklyn

Shameless self promotion: My photo project about the ambivalent economic status of the middle class male:

Jun. 06 2014 10:54 AM
John A

To say you want equality and a spouse that makes more than you do is to not walk your own talk.

Jun. 06 2014 10:52 AM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

This is a really interesting conversation, and hearing the high expectations others have of potential spouses. I was the exact opposite - I didn't think about income at all when I was single and dating - as a creative, bohemian-type, I was most concerned with compatibility of interests and life philosophies. Now 10 years into a marriage, I can now see the point of thinking harder about long-term, situational expectations such as income, kids etc. My husband makes a good income, and I make less than he does - and this is part of why I decided not to have children. I didn't want to just get by, financially, if the expense of a family was added into the mix, and I didn't want to have to trade in being an artist and someone who works in lower-paying, creative fields to solely focus on income to provide for the future lives of my children.

That said, I think there has to be a balance between being calculating, and being open to people who aren't exactly like you. It seems to me that people who have an income cut-off for would-be spouses - especially upper, middle-class women - are missing out on a whole slew of people who have amazing qualities to offer, and who might also still be evolving. To the lady-dentist who called in - I would say to her: at 34 years-old, there are still plenty of people who are working hard, and make ok money, but don't work in fields that gaurauntee $100K or higher at that age or point in their career. There are still plenty of people who change careers in their 30's, and make a lot more money as they approach 40. Life is fluid, and these days, especially, most people's incomes are not gauranteed throughout life. It's one thing to want someone who can take care of themselves and pay their own way, but expecting exactly the same or more income than what you make could cut off someone who fills in the gaps that you are missing.

Jun. 06 2014 10:51 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

All I know is that marriage makes me sick. Been there twice; never again! It's like the Holocaust. Never again! Pointless; stupid; stressful; and life-shortening for men in particular. The boot is on the other foot. Either you are willing to live with it on your neck, or be alone but free!

Jun. 06 2014 10:51 AM
Nick from UWS

Who are these children that are so anxious to entomb themselves in "stability and security" at 26 years old? Only children think like this. You are adult when you realize that there is no such thing as "stability" and "security"? It's actually HER that is not stable, but she projects it on her hapless boyfriend.

Jun. 06 2014 10:50 AM
genejoke from Brooklyn

To the caller who makes "more than $75K per year" - If you really loved your boyfriend, you would have figured out a way to make the relationship work. You're either really self-centered or we're not hearing the whole story. Maybe he was alcoholic, or stupid, or whatever.

Jun. 06 2014 10:49 AM
Joyce from NYC

"the solution is more economic security..."

Must socialism be the solution for EVERY problem discussed on this show?

Jun. 06 2014 10:47 AM
dd from nyc

BL "As more GLBTQ crave marriage."
No, not really.
GLBTQ people "crave" the same rights as heterosexuals to marry, they don't necessarily "crave" marriage. It's about having full rights not necessarily putting a ring on it.

Jun. 06 2014 10:45 AM
tom from astoria

you re leaving out recent immigrants. I see them all over the place married very young with children and doing day labor type jobs… itsd relative to our expectations. to them, they are moving up compared to the income situation where they came from. they define success and readiness for marriage like we did generations ago.

Jun. 06 2014 10:45 AM
David from Manhattan

It's been my experience that women are quite calculative on this topic. Particularly the well educated and well to do women. Money and the status of the men they date seem most paramount. I understand this. But I just find it antithetical to the whole notion that women hold to greater esteem romantic love. Especially in NYC, in my opinion, this is part of the reason why there are so many older single women still looking for a partner.

Jun. 06 2014 10:44 AM
Damisi from Manhattan


Don't worry about what your potential mate makes, worry about how much they SAVE. Salaries ebb and flow but to have real cash liquidity is far more important!

Jun. 06 2014 10:44 AM
Kabir from New York

You cannot separate financial discrimination in love from race discrimination - Not to mention the what should be antiquated gender roles become unavoidable. Looking at this issue through this lens shows how shallow and backwards our decision making is on this matter. What about love and humanity? We should not be looking down on others when we make prostitutes of everyone.

Jun. 06 2014 10:43 AM
Ruth Bonapace from New Jersey

As a long divorced middle aged woman I would like to add something regarding the two divergent divorce paths -- most of my friends are affluent and I know several couples in very hostile marriages but the husbands won't leave because their wives stopped working and they are loathe to pay six figure spousal Maintenence and to give up half their equity. For people with less money or two-income households it's much easier for both parties to go their separate ways if they are not happy.

Jun. 06 2014 10:42 AM
Brent from Manhattan

Increasingly, American men are saving and expatriating to tropical paradises and then marry locally. Doesn't that mess up the whole market dynamic in the West?

Jun. 06 2014 10:42 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Women are far more mercenary about money than men, so if the previous (gay) caller Richard thinks he's got it bad, he ought to know that he's way ahead of what men are submitted to in hetero relationships.

Jun. 06 2014 10:42 AM
john from office

Wow you need a high credit score for Buggery!

The world is upside down.

Jun. 06 2014 10:41 AM
Andrea from NYC

When I met the man who became my husband I had come to the realization that it was impossible to be with someone who didn't have a healthy relationship with money. I had previously been with someone who lived on credit cards, parents, wishes and fantasies and it was rubbing off on me. For your caller who is a dentist, I would urge her to expand her notion of success to include more than money...if you are partnered with someone who compliments what you have rather than simply mirrors it you are likely to have a happy partnership. Economics, both household and worldwide, are very complex and will always need tending to, adjusting, negotiating, studying...

Jun. 06 2014 10:40 AM
SarahT from Lower East Side

These arguments sound weak to me. Causality v correlatation.

Jun. 06 2014 10:38 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Man needs a woman the way a horse needs a rider. Some horses do need riders to steer them. A few choose to remain wild out on the range. Fortunately for most women, most men are as dumb as horses so most men can be broken and steered until they break down and can be sent to the glue factory.

Most men don't realize how brainwashed they were as children by their mommies. The Spartans were different. They took male children away from mothers at age 6 or 7 and raised them as brave warriors. So the Spartans were able to hold off and stop even the Persians. But after a few centuries, the Spartans had reduced their own numbers radically.

Nonetheless, men are DUMB, because they have been sissified and brainwashed and fearful of living alone. THey don't want to become pariahs. Men are to blame for their own situation. Most have been enslaved by this mystique of "family" and "marriage" until it is quite late and realize they've been had by this mystique. There should be the male equivalent of the "Feminist Mystique" to liberate males the way females were liberated.

Jun. 06 2014 10:37 AM
Alyson from Midtown

What if it's not just about money? As a woman, its more about ambition and mindset for me. Does this guy want to can travel out of the country or does he think that's for the "rich"? Does he read books, magazines and the newspaper? I come from a working class, Af-Am background but I am middle class now and I tend to not share the same mindset in the men I meet in that same situation.

Jun. 06 2014 10:36 AM
Brock from Manhattan

Ask your guests about female hypergamy and price discrimination in sex. That same high earning woman seeking a high earning husband will also go on vacation and sleep with some random hot dude who was not made to jump through any 'money hoops' and then expect a guy to pony up to be her husband a year later.

Jun. 06 2014 10:35 AM
Jane from Brooklyn

my goodness, I'm amazed how calculated the romance sounds nowadays..
what about common interests? attraction? I'm not saying women need to be stupid, and not look at financials, but at the same time, one cannot predict future behaviors, or unexpected events. You would think finding someone who can support you during hard times, have a conversation with is more important than having a guy bringing the same amount of money as you do

Jun. 06 2014 10:34 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Financial security? She just said she's providing the financial security all by herself!

Why does she need the guy to also provide it? What if he makes less than her? Doesn't their combined income provide sufficient financial security?

Jun. 06 2014 10:32 AM
Not so much from LA

In my experience women look for security above anything else.

My wife of 15 years has probably had about 12 jobs, decided not to finish college, and does very little for anyone but her self. I tried going against all the cliches and took a chance but I have to say when it comes to marriage there are some major truths to what most people call old fashioned.

But for sure and without a doubt she always worries about making sure she is "secure" she is just not willing to do anything for it.

Jun. 06 2014 10:31 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

What does "I bring a lot to the table" mean? Whose table?

Jun. 06 2014 10:30 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

Finally, a question that addresses how the different genders view this topic.

Jun. 06 2014 10:30 AM
Juli from Skillman, NJ

Princeton Mom (Susan Patton) needs to listen to June Carbone. Maybe Patton will get a good dose of common sense.

Jun. 06 2014 10:29 AM

My only financial expectation would be for my spouse to be able to support themselves. I was raised to support myself, and I have a career and income to support myself. I would not marry someone who did not work to support themselves and expected me to support them.

Jun. 06 2014 10:28 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

It's often forgotten that most people in the world 200 years ago were either slaves or serfs. Either bound to he landlord or to the master.

from Wikipedia - History of Slavery

David P. Forsythe wrote: "The fact remained that at the beginning of the nineteenth century an estimated three-quarters of all people alive were trapped in bondage against their will either in some form of slavery or serfdom."[5]

Jun. 06 2014 10:24 AM
tom from LICity

I guess Ive anticipated the money consideration in marriage: I have dropped out of dating and thinking about marriage, because my income cannot support a girlfriend, no less a family! The economy has made being borderline low income more difficult. But Living like a recluse has it's advantages and I hope to have a family when I've made it.

Jun. 06 2014 10:24 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

In human history, changes in technology change everything. When farming was the major way that most humans sustained themselves, the only way females could survive was to either be attached to a male and provide more children to work the farm, or if she was very attractive, be a prostitute or become a nun.
Today technology makes it possible for women to do any job and she does not need to attach herself to any meles. Not even to have a baby. Men still need a female to have babies, so the shoe is on other foot. Females obviously have the upper hand today. They indeed decide the future of the human race by themselves, with no male input required or tolerated.

And as technology makes life from the laboratory increasingly possible, the handwriting is on the wall. "Marriage" is an arcane relic of the past which will have to be replaced by a technologically totally different paradigm. And we should get used to it and welcome the inevitable future without rancor.

Jun. 06 2014 10:08 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Children are ends in themselves.

Jun. 06 2014 09:33 AM

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