Six months ago, the following question was posed to me: “If you had to choose between being insanely wealthy as your character, Geoff, is you your novel, The Hunger & The Hunted, and be in a stale, neutral marriage; or live very humbly, barely making ends meet, and be in a loving, connected relationship full of chemistry, which life would you choose?
I posed this question to about one hundred diverse individuals over the past several months, and the results were telling. Unsure of exactly what I would discover, the results led me to some very interesting conclusions.
- Women marry “the package,” while men marry the person.
- Homemakers and full-time mothers are strongly tied to their husband’s career and professional position.
- Stay-at-home husbands and full-time fathers are strongly tied to recognition and appreciation.
- The results are strongly skewed based on gender and position.
Let me begin by citing some very interesting observations on happiness from the book, Thrive, by Dan Buettner. In his book, Dan, through leading researchers and data bases around the globe, leads him to four succinct places/areas of the world that stand out statistically as being the “happiest places on Earth.” And he is not talking about Disneyland. Here are those four locations in no particular order:
- San Luis Obispo, California USA
For the purposes of studying the results of my very unofficial survey of choosing between wealth and near poverty to find relationship bliss, I am only going to share some interesting results from Denmark. Egalitarianism, or the equality of all peoples, plays an important role in the happiness of Danes. With crushing taxation, and darkness that settles in totality for months of the year, Denmark and its inhabitants are remarkably happy. Why? Their health needs and city infrastructures are largely taken care of. With cold and darkness a stark lifestyle reality, little energy is placed on social status, fashion and fancy cars. In other words, when you live in an equal society, you tend to focus on the person – not their “things.”
In America, consumerism is all around us pushed by massive and unrelenting advertising. Happiness and joy, we are shown, is found in things – not relationships. It is easy to see that we, from a very young age, learn a very unfortunate lesson in life: to be happy you must be rich.
So back to my unofficial survey… This is what I found, and I am not passing any judgments. Just the facts as I received them from my subjects:
- Women marry “the package” while men marry the person. Through decades of conditioning, peer comparisons and social envy, women are molded to overlook love in favor of financial security. Parents play a disappointing role in this, too, as they condition their daughters to date and marry eligible men with “good jobs.” I know. I have two grown daughters. Yes, your partner’s love for you is important, but on an equally qualified scale, a woman looks for a solid bank account and future earning potential, smarts, good looks, a considerate nature, social ability and an important job or occupation.
- Full time homemakers and mothers are in explicably tied to the status of their husband’s job. In an odd way, it defines them in the social circles they navigate – not to mention the long-term security they seek. Women working in their own careers outside the home are not nearly as tied to their husband’s job.
- Stay at home husbands and fathers are more interested in recognition and appreciation. Men are wired to support and protect their loved ones, and if the wife earns more than the husband or is the sole earner, men want to feel useful in the home in an outsized way.
- The survey results are skewed by gender and position. Overwhelmingly, head-of-household males who financially support their families, almost 90% responded that they would rather live humbly and have a spouse/partner that they connected with on a deep chemical level. Of head-of-household women, the results were about 50/50. Stay-at-home husbands and fathers skewed strongly to the relationship over money. And the stay-at-home wife and mother in almost exact opposite numbers as their working husbands preferred the huge financial wealth. Interesting.
So, back to how I answered the question: I would 100% pick humble living with a connected, loving, passionate relationship over gross financial wealth. I have always commented to my wife, that I could live in a tent, literally, if I was with someone who truly made me happy. I think she would agree. Too bad she doesn’t like to camp.
C. Lindsey Willams