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.
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.
“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.