Tuesday, 24 April 2012

The Money Thing

I never know what is going to touch off a blog post, let alone two. But this weekend it was definitely a five minute conversation in a grassy courtyard, between blossoming cherry trees, with two handsome men, one Polish, one Scottish, who didn't actually say that much. Our topic was this funny "How to Win Women" clip on Spotify, which I actually never saw, and I went smack into Auntie Seraphic mode. Dedicate an hour every day to something, and you become it. Believe ME. Let's just say they didn't have the chance to say much.

But one of them did say something, or maybe one or the other just thought it and I read his mind. I can't remember, and at any rate he didn't get very far, because although he said or thought it in the most general and polite way, the concept was "Money."

In a split second I thought about the hundreds of my readers, most working madly at school or at jobs or at careers, most paying their own bills, most longing for male company, for a man who would make them laugh and meet them at the airport at the end of a business trip.

"Women don't care about a man's money," I trumpeted. "We don't really care how much a man makes! We have our own money! We have our own jobs! We don't need men for money. We choose men for their looks. MEN ARE A LUXURY GOOD!"

That last sounded really great until I thought about how that might sound to someone like, you know, John Paul II.

"Don't tell anyone in Poland I said that," said I hastily to the Polish one.

Okay, so men are not a luxury good. They are our brothers, our spiritual spouses in "unity in two" (see Mulieris Dignitatem), our friends, our companions and co-creators of the future. And thus they are so much more to us than a source of income I do not even know where to begin.

"Of course women want men to work," I said. "Men need work for self-respect. But it is not about money."

Neither of them pointed out that my unusual and comfortable if simple lifestyle is not being supported by my meager Catholic writer's earnings but by my heritage sector husband, which was prudent of them. It's never a good idea to suggest to your hostess that she married for money although, actually, people constantly suggest that I married B.A. for the Historical House. I did not marry B.A. for the Historical House although I am awfully fond of the Historical House, which is a good thing, as the Historical House is the focus of my husband's career. It's like loving Christendom College when your husband is a professor there.

Career. Work. And, really, what adult Catholic Single woman really cares what work an attractive man does as long as he is doing it, he enjoys it, it isn't evil and it makes him independent? Yes, a young women who anticipates having a houseful of kids is going to ponder how she and a potential husband are going to best support those kids, but the majority of women are not thinking, "Oh wow. I just want a guy to pay for my Gucci handbags." I mean, hello?

Now, I admit there are probably some women out there who really do think of men as sources of Gucci handbags. My former housemate Jonathan swore up and down that women in the bars and clubs of Boston would crane their necks to have a look at his watch or go to some lengths to have a look at the label of his coat. He also claimed women sometimes ask complete strangers what kind of car they drive. It had never occurred to me in my life to do that, so eventually I asked a man what kind of car he drove, and he said "Whichever one is available", which I thought supremely clever.

I am trying to see life from the perspective of women who go to bars and try to figure out which men are earning a lot of money. For some reason, all I can think of is Margaret Thatcher supposedly saying that anyone who takes the bus after age 40 is a loser, or whatever she said that makes Scottish bus-takers and bicyclists so mad. I suppose these label-reading women might be trying to separate the men who have embraced what they think is adult life from the men who are content to coast through life as perpetual teenagers. And young men starting off in their careers tend to buy shiny toys like cars, watches and handsome overcoats. So I can well imagine a woman scanning a man trying to impress her in a bar and thinking "So where are your shiny toys, then?"

But, yes, I admit there are women who are looking for walking cash machines, although I don't think I know any personally. And I know a lot of single women. These are women who go to church. They have jobs. They don't usually go to bars, and if they do, they are surrounded by female friends. Most have put in a lot of time and work to get degrees or certification, and those who think they won't work after marriage think this will be because they have babies to tend. They have been told since they were old enough to grasp the concept that women SHOULD work outside the home, and that women SHOULD earn money, and it is actually very difficult for many contemporary educated women to grasp the concept that--as Saint Edith Stein wrote--women shouldn't HAVE to work outside the home. ("Family wage? Whaaaa-?") These are good women who are interested in men for themselves, not for their money.

In short, as long as a man has work, work he likes, or a job he doesn't like but he's willing to work at it until he can get work he likes better, then as far as money goes, he is marriage material. He is marriage material because getting and keeping a job, or working for himself, shows character,maturity and interest in life.

Conversely, a guy who sits around all day, not working, not studying, not doing something constructive (think the Hugh Grant character in About a Boy), is NOT marriage material, no matter how big his trust fund or personal wealth. But I suppose he will not go wanting for female companionship because he can always go and flash his watch at girls in bars, hopefully attracting only the ones he deserves.

As a favour to our brothers/spiritual spouses/co-creators of the future of the world, would you kindly write in the combox exactly WHAT it is you hope the right one will add to your life (if you do)? Anonymous comments will be, as usual, deleted.

Aktualizacja : To jest najnowszy wywiad ze mną: "Single nigdy nie są samotni".


Anonymous said...

Well as I am about to be married (23 days now!) I am no longer looking but I can still answer the question.
What I hope my fiance will bring to my life as my husband:

- Companionship
- Emotional and spiritual support
- children (God willing)
- Love
- Somebody handsome to look at in the evenings! ;)

I have very much enjoyed the last two blog posts and am busily thinking which unmarried males I can send it to....

aussie girl in australia (soon to be in new zealand!)

Jam said...

I knew a man who was offended when women would ask him, first thing, "what do you do?" He was convinced they only wanted to gauge his income. I don't deny that many women probably DID think about his income (he worked in the financial sector; his job title at least sounded like money) but dude. There are only so many ways for the average-witted person to strike up conversation with a stranger.

I guess my answer to the question would be, a common goal? I mean, I can see how I would/could be serving God-and-man if I kept on single my whole life, but "holiness through marriage" and "raising a family" just seem so much more concrete! And frankly, more unquestionably worthwhile, whereas the career path has so many pitfalls. Wouldn't it be lovely to be on a team. I feel like maybe that's not a great answer but there it is! Once I meet him, I will be able to tell you about the many lovely qualities he will bring to my life...

Anonymous said...

I don't really expect my husband to 'add' something to my life, except for the relationship itself of course, but that's something we would both be working on. It’s not really about ‘adding’ for me, it’s more about ‘sharing’. I have financial stability, a nice group of friends and family, a wonderful church community, wonderful hobbies, a beautiful little rented house … and I would love to share it with someone. What I really care about is that this man should be emotionally stable, a good Christian and kind. And none of those are traits that you can ‘buy’ or ‘get’.

TGWWS said...

Love, love, LOVE the above answers. But I have to toss in the one my mother taught me, in the form of a syllogism.

*We all are called to be saints.
*Our specific vocation, marriage, the religious life, or the single life, is meant to help each of us to be a saint.
*Therefore, in the married life, the most important thing that your spouse can do for you is help you to become a saint.

(Incidentally, it's been a while since I read the document, so I could be wrong, but my recollection is that this growth in holiness comes up [along with the procreation of children] in Casti Connubii as one of the purposes for which marriage was ordained.)

JOEtheGUY said...

I was once on a date with an Orthodox Catholic woman and after dinner was finished and the bill paid, I noticed that she craned her neck and evaluated how much I tipped the server which I thought was very uncouth and unbecoming.

Miss T. said...

Auntie Seraphic, I am hoping that the RIGHT ONE will be a compassionate someone with a strong faith in Christ who will help me create a home where I can be myself around him and he around me. A place filled with love and trust and where we can grow together in our faith. A place where we can raise godly, compassionate children with personal relationships with Christ who change the world for the better.

Caelaeno said...

@JOEtheGUY Well, she might have wanted to make sure you're not the kind of guy that would stiff the waiter, as that is generally held to be uncouth and unbecoming on the part of the man.

Hmm. I really truly hope for a man that I can connect with, intellectually--someone I can maintain conversations with. Someone I can respect (while the amount of money he makes doesn't really affect that, his ability to hold down a job certainly does). Someone who's responsible.

Those are the biggies. =)

Urszula said...

As long as someone works hard, likes his job, and brings home enough money to cover bills and put some aside into sensible savings, that's enough for me. It's what I expect of myself, so I see no reason to lower the bar on my future husband.

Most NCGs really don't want to marry Wall Street traders (believe me, I almost did). The lifestyle of the 1% is very rarely conducive to fidelity, quality time with family, peace of mind and values that are not money-related, all of which are important in a spouse (at least to me).

Incidentally, it never entered my mind to date the Wall Street trader because of his money - I had known and liked him since his days as a poor foreign exchange student without a car; I admired his tenacity and dedication to a good education and hard work.

I hope my future husband will be my friend who will travel through life with me, adding laughter and fun trips and kisses and babies to my life. I hope to add the same to his :)

Seraphic Spouse said...

Well, lesson learned. Girls, if you are really curious about whether a guy is generous or cheap to waiters, don't make it obvious. It is enough to merely watch and listen to whether he is polite to the wait staff.

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO MEN: For at least the last 20 years women in the West have been told to judge a man by how he treats the waitstaff. Do not be rude to or about waitstaff on a date!

If waitstaff is REALLY horrible--insults, etc., tell your date he or she must be having a really bad day and why don't you go elsewhere?

If waitstaff start throwing things at each other, suggest you hide under the table until you make a break for freedom.

You can go back later and give the waitstaff a piece of your mind, but I'm am telling you, Western Woman has been programmed to notice how you treat waitstaff.


kozz said...

Ok, this is going to be MY really cynical and brutal take on this issue, which might annoy a lot of people, men especially. I’m from a totally different culture where the income and other monetary stuff are discussed beforehand. And like most cultures, the higher the income bracket, the prettier and richer match a man can hope to attract.
I’m also very likely a one-off case neurotic case as I have an absolute, terrifying, crushing fear of becoming a trapped working mule in a marriage. While I’d definitely prefer to have someone at the same, if not, in a similar vicinity to my pay scale (slightly lower being acceptable) I really wouldn’t want to be around someone who earns half or quarter of what I make.
One, there’s this whole “man” ego thing to deal with. Secondly, marrying someone from a lower income stratum would definitely make my income an indispensable part of the lifestyle, and who knows, I might be forced to work without a possible option of a break or an option to stay at home. Add a mix of kids to this scenario and it will surely make my head explode. Thirdly, it might become very easy for me to view him as inept and lose respect.
Marrying someone rich, comes with a different set problems, of which I won’t get into.
Just my opinion.


MaryJane said...

I don't think this is much different from what Seraphic said, but how much money a man makes and how hard he works are both important to me because I would like to have a happy, comfortable family life in which I may work if I so choose, but I do not have to work - especially when the children are small.

I do not want to marry a man who makes so little money that I am constantly stressed about whether or not to buy an extra gallon of milk. I am (and like to be) frugal - the only gucci piece I ever had was from a thrift store for $5 - but I do not want to spend my life worrying about not having enough money.

Also, how hard a man works (this is a separate issue from the paycheck) is an indication of his character, as far as I'm concerned. There are men who are obsessed with their jobs, and never have time for family, which shows a lack of balance. Then there are men who are ho-hum about work, and really don't care to move up in the company, or learn a new skill, etc.etc. I dated one. He drove me nuts because he was just so content to be average. I think the desire to improve or learn new skills or move up in a job really shows depth of character in a man. I suppose the term for it might be "ambition" - but I don't mean it in the sense of materialism/ greed.

healthily sanguine said...

I think how much money a man makes and how generous his heart is are two different things. If you married a man with a six-figure income, but he was not generous to you and didn't provide you with necessary and good things, you'd soon learn the difference. So, for dating, I don't look for a guy who I know makes a lot of money, but for one who enjoys being generous with what he has, large or small.

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

A job is an indicator of maturity and ability to handle responsibilities... responsibly. That's it. I think it's more important to have goals and be in a position to advance/grow/develop than to be at the top right now. I did discover this year that lack of ambition really nixes someone out for me. It wouldn't have to be "I'm going to be at the top!" but to be happy to be a worker bee his whole life doesn't really show a desire to grow. Note that a man does not have to be AT his ultimate goal - but having one and a basic idea of how to get there important.

Budgets can be stretched and supplemented -- and if someone married a fellow in the financial sector in 2007 relying on his huge income she might have gotten a rude awakening in 2008 anyway, when a lot of people lost their jobs in that area. We can't know what's coming. I want someone I think I can weather storms with, not necessarily someone who's completely insulated from storms (in addition to other considerations, of course).

Looking at the tip like that - awkward and rude, but wouldn't you want to know if someone was a chincy tipper, too? I confess I would even though I wouldn't be rude like that. I'm pretty generous as a tipper myself. Seraphic, would it be 'against the rules' to offer to take care of the tip if the fellow is paying?


Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

Also, I love Boromir, er, Sean Bean, as today's Swashbuckling Protector. :-) (even if that pic's of Ned Stark, Boromir = awesome.)

Maggie said...

the lovely picture is of Sean in his Boromir days, looking all uppity about Aragorn being the Heir. Ned Stark is much more dark and his brow if much more furrowed, since everyone in Westeros is seriously crazy and/or morally deplorable with like 3 exceptions....

n.panchancha said...

I grew up imagining a hypothetical hubbie who was loving, hilarious, and supported me in faith and virtue. I usually imagined I'd have a great and fascinating career and that marrying someone with a modest income wouldn't be an issue. Now I do wonder whether, if I'd grown up under tougher circumstances (we weren't rolling in dough but there were never doubts that we kids could detect re: where rent and food would come from), I might value a spouse with an above-average income more highly. Living on very little when you're single is one thing, but when there are children depending on you it's a different story. Would a man with loads of disposable income be more attractive if I'd escaped such circumstances, myself? I hope I wouldn't let it affect me too much, but who knows.

One question I have for gents (and perhaps for savvy women) is: if a man feels insecure in his career or finances (i.e. not earning enough, or no clear direction, or not living up to his own expectations), does that make him more reluctant to commit to a potential spouse - to the point of breaking off a promising relationship? I ask because it's come up before among my friends, and I've kind of raised an eyebrow and wondered if it wasn't just a case of HJNTIY... but then this phenomenon occurred in a NOVEL I was reading (source of certain truth!) written by a MAN (source of man facts!)! How true is this, do you think, ye internet people?

PS: Boromir is looking especially dreamy today, in a delightful, slightly greasy kind of way...

berenike said...

Well, I never saw the Lord of the Rings films. (What is with the masses of gratuitous crap sex scenes added to the TV version of Game of Thrones? They're not just unnecessary anymore, they're actually destroying the plot, the characters, ...)

I would never marry a man who used the word "waitstaff" :D

Sheila said...

When I was looking for a spouse, I really DIDN'T want a rich one. I grew up on the poor side and expected to continue that way. But I would NOT consider a guy who was so ambitious that I would worry he wouldn't be around for the family. There's the perfect balance -- a man who makes enough to allow his wife to stay home with the kids (which isn't a lot, by the way -- it can work on surprisingly little) but not so much that he himself is never around. Chances are, if the man's earning potential is so low he can't afford for his wife to stay home with the kids, he'll have a hard time fronting daycare expenses for them either. That basically means no kids unless you yourself are a high earner.

Marrying young and to an English major has meant that I will never be rich. But we have a stable enough income, and I do stay home full-time. It's that happy medium.