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Is it OK to view marriage as a financial plan?

Before you get all “gold-digger” on me (because I’m pretty sure you thought of beautiful women marrying wealthy men as a way to have a lifestyle they want and not beautiful men marrying wealthy women, but OK), let’s explore what’s been in the news recently.  Marry for money

This week, it’s all about Ekaterina Parfenova, an erstwhile actress-socialite in the middle of a multimillion financial battle with her estranged second husband, Richard Fields, to whom she was married for 11 years and with whom she has two children.


“My financial strategy? Find a new husband, Russian beauty queen tells divorce hearing,” the headline in the Telegraph said about Parfenova.

“I am a very good wife. I will try to find a husband,” she told the divorce judge when he asked her if she planned to get a job (but stated later online that it was a joke: “I joked that since I am great at being a wife and mother, and if that’s my main skill, as they define it, then perhaps I could look into being a wife again, if they so insist!”)

When she parted from her first husband, she got about $1 million as well as a good hunk of cash from Fields, an American lawyer whom she met when she was still married to husband No. 1. Fields has paid out a lot for his previous divorces, but that hasn’t stopped him from tying the knot five times — and he’s hoping to wed wife No. 6 soon. The future Mrs. Fields us driving around in a Porsche he’s leasing for her and shopping with his platinum AmEx card, causing Parfenova’s attorney to say he “uses money both to attract and demonstrate affection for someone.”
While Parfenova’s “financial strategy” might make some cringe, what are we to think of the way Fields uses his money? Isn’t he dangling his money as bait? If men use money as a way to attract a woman, why do we look down on, judge and shame women who go for the bait? Isn’t the man just as guilty?
Almost all of us can be “bought” — a survey not too long ago indicated both men and women said they would marry an average-looking person they liked, if he/she had money — about $1.5 million. And while men don’t put as much emphasis on a woman’s financial situation, women generally won’t date a broke men for too long, if at all. In The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels, we talk about why a safety marriage might make sense for some couples: In this case, Fields traded his wealth for Parfenova’s beauty, mothering and wifely skills.
It’s disturbing that only women are judged negatively for marrying for money while a man who uses his money as a way to attract women is not.
I have no idea if Parfenova is indeed a good wife and mother. But considering the results of a recent Harvard MBA study  — the women grads expected that their marriages would be egalitarian, but the men knew all along that they would put their careers before their wife’s, and the kids would her responsibility — men clearly benefit from women willing to take on that role.
Does that really make women gold-diggers?

Interested in creating a specific kind of marriage? Read The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels (Seal Press). Order the book on Amazon, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.


3 Responses to “Is marriage a financial plan?”

  1. Gabriella says:

    I have dual opinions about this. My mother was a single parent of 6 children I was the youngest. She herself was abandoned during the holocaust and sent to a “boarding school.” Her parents were sent to Belsen her father made it through but her mother was sent to a ghetto (I think), and she never saw her again. This effected her a lot and thus resulted in my mother abandoning my siblings before I was born but she came back. Albeit reluctantly. This effected them greatly. She was not a warm mother but cared for us in the best way she could. If I had a choice of growing up without a mother, I guess I would say, I still would have wanted my mom in my life. Regardless of the mental, emotional and at times physical abuse we all sustained at various times in our lives. Even though I’m still following the bread crumbs of our past, to find out who I am and broken as my mother was. Yes! It could have been better if we could have ended up with a real family-better people but I loved my mom very much and still due regardless that she is no longer here on this earth. As big as the universe is and I get caught up with my kids and life. When I stop during my day to breathe and I remember a kind word she tossed in my direction or the scent of the powder she favored. I’m reminded that “my” world is a little less full without her.

  2. blurkel says:

    Only women in this society can use marriage as an economic parachute and not automatically face scorn and disdain for doing so. Men who try are looked upon as unmanly and incompetent.

    To some extent, all women use marriage this way. Marriage is all about her needs -including maternity- and he’s expected to shell out silently, “because he LOVES her”. This doesn’t just happen with the PUA who flashes cash as an attractant. It’s the first thing about men that women evaluate. The schlub who can only work part-time can still look like Gotrocks to a woman without any income.

    There are many tales of women who married only because they were asked by a man who had a job during the Great Depression, so this isn’t a new feature of our society. As long as they upheld their side of the bargain, who is to say it’s wrong? Sure, better arrangements are desired, but survival is the primary urge in all of us, sometimes no matter what it takes.

  3. Robert Cohen says:

    Men who “buy” their brides are definitely looked down on. They are seen as desperate and pathetic. As an example, look at this documentary about men who spend large sums to meet Ukranian women and bring them back to the U.S. or Australia:
    http://lovemethedocumentary.com/
    The attitude of the film makers is very evident. These men are seen as losers.

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