Wednesday, 15 June 2011
A common tale that plays out in movies and other forms of entertainment involves the pairing of the rich and poor, either in marriage or convoluted relationships. There's almost always a struggle involving the opulent partner's family and the desire to embrace the less fortunate's roots in poverty, along with the love that stems from it. It's a classic mixture of class warfare and undying love, where .50 caliber bullets and explosives fail to penetrate through the heart of the matter--the integrity of a penniless and fruitful bond.
Hollywood's obsession with romanticizing partnerships free from the binds of wealth and class, has given way to a new generation of minds pried open by the idealistic hands of time in motion. The idea that money and class have a negligible impact on the success of a relationship has spread, almost as if mass consciousness became the bread and butter of new age dating.
But how much of an impact does wealth, status and class have on the long-term success of a relationship? In what sense does an abundance of money alter the lifespan of a marriage or relationship?
Before we touch on that, it's necessary to understand what we call "social stratification" in the Western world. Typically, this is divided into three categories: the upper class, middle class and lower class. For the sake of simplicity, we'll strictly focus on class and social power. We'll come to learn that while money is a factor, it's not as great as we think.
Class Power: The concept of class power is economically based. The unequal access to material goods keeps a small percentage of individuals at the top and grants them dominance over the majority who seek their goods; thus, they're put in a subordinate position.
Social Power: For the most part, social power is maintained through endogamy, which means marrying within an ethnic group or class, specifically. It's directly related to class power and social stratification in that it keeps wealth and power within circles, and limits distribution which creates an even greater division between classes.
What this all means is that social classes are rooted in different forms power and the relationship between dominance and subordination takes center stage. Lines are split, and divisions are created based on wealth, prestige and power in this Capitalist system. Class and status are part of the distribution of power.
So what does any of this have to do with relationships, which are irrational and emotionally charged?
Many relationships die at the hands of a power struggle, although we're talking about the non-physical form in this case. One partner will assume the role of dominance and this partner typically has less interest in the bond as well. Having the upper-hand emotionally is one thing, but when you combine a person of wealth with one of a lower social standing, other issues can rear their ugly heads.
-The feeling of inferiority.
This is a short list of problems that sometimes arise in real relationship where each person comes from a different social class. While it would be nice to believe that these sorts of relationships usually have a Hollywood ending, the truth is that they're hard work, and the differences are difficult to overcome. Relationships are at their best when there's an equal balance of power and understanding, so if you throw a social gap into the mix, you can count on tripping and falling in it.
Individuals with a position of power command respect and have more options. They have higher odds of getting married due to financial stability or the promise of it based on their background. Higher education at prestigious schools will make for a more desirable partner based on their perceived chance of success alone. Your social status and how others perceive you are key factors in the dating game. In fact, men are trained by dating gurus to carry themselves in a manner that gives the illusion of social superiority. This is great for one-night stands, but the dynamics of a relationship require far more work and self-improvement.
So how do you give these relationships a better shot at reaching the mythical happy ending?
With many women being independent these days, it's likely that a man will find himself dating a partner with a higher income and a better home. Traditionally, gender roles dictate that the man is supposed to take care of the woman and bring home dinner, so it's easy to understand why guys cower away in a corner when a strong, independent woman makes her presence known. In this example, it's key for the male to let go of the notion and accept the facts. You aren't inferior for earning less or being the second "bread winner" and you certainly shouldn't be ashamed of what you aspire to do with your life (unless you're planning on becoming a hobo without the shotgun).
Both partners need to reach an understanding that they have a lot to offer each other emotionally, and make sure the feelings are mutual. Keep things as balanced as possible, and try to understand where the other is coming from. Since you're from different backgrounds and situations, it's necessary to get to know one another down to the last detail. Find out what makes him or her tick, about their home life, their feelings in regards to money and wants vs needs, where they see themselves living in the future, and how they're willing to compromise among other things.
Understand that a financially stable man or woman can fail to giving you proper support as well. Look beyond gender roles and focus more on your values and goals. Try to share those goals. Realize that while you may find yourself to be compatible with fat wallets, the person's temperament may ruin any chance for a stable union.
Relationships are more likely to last when there's less of a gap in social classes and for the most part, they aren't as common due to the "wealthy and powerful" mingling amongst each other in most situations. Don't let Hollywood's romanticization lead you to believe that family is the only hurdle to overcome. It's risky, but with hard work and understanding, they can make for beautiful relationships which are surely strung by the bonds of love, not financial gains or hierarchies. It's more of a class issue, not necessarily monetary, but they're both related.
What are you thoughts?
Nuñez Love Doctor.
Certified with a PhD in Cyndi Lauper & Financial Romances.