# 332: Marrying Rich
Story behind the Passage
Today in a tremendously illuminating meeting for me someone suggested, as one alternative among some others, that I could also marry someone who is rich. That would obviously solve all financial issues one can have, at least in comparison to some other alternatives that are on the table. You might think this is funny but I am writing about it because, historically, this has, of course, been a serious option for many, most of them female. Either they went to the monastery or they got married. I am not saying that I am seriously considering this option but I want to enter the thought experiment and explore what this might feel like if you really wanted to choose this path to make sure that you can do the good deeds you want to do in life while also making sure that your fridge is filled.
In the history of literature, there are, of course, many stories which revolve around women who try to find a rich guy to marry. And there are also women (protagonists) who never decided to do so. One story of a real woman, not a fictional character, which I became aware of just recently is the one of the philosopher, maybe the last philosopher of antiquity, Hypatia. One thing I remember about her, among some other remarkable things, is that she never got married. That obviously was a conscious decision because she was fully devoted to scholarship. Nikola Tesla, by the way, never got married either for the same reasons. I think, I will write about his life story at some point soon. In any case, Hypathia decided not to marry but the important point obviously is that she never had to do so because she was well off due to her rich family heritage. Tesla, by the way, died in poverty and, as far as I know, in the last years of his life regretted never having married. Maybe marrying a rich woman would have helped him too?
Back to the idea of actually getting married rich now: The first book that came to my mind when thinking about this now was Pride and Prejudice. That is the book that is all about getting married as the ultimate goal in life. Obviously, there have always been women in history who never wanted this and who were still forced to do it. And I am not only talking about women here, of course, even though women have historically been the ones who needed this most to sustain themselves. So, let us briefly explore a key sentence in the passage in order to think about what marriage can mean if you actually use it as a tool for something else that is not so much related to all the romantic ideals of love and intimacy.
“Without thinking highly either of men or of matrimony, marriage had always been her object; it was the only honorable provision for well-educated young women of small fortune, and however uncertain of giving happiness, must be their pleasantest preservative from want.” I hardly know any book in the history of literature which contains the word “marriage” so frequently. To be honest, it has been many years since I last thought about or even read a passage from Pride and Prejudice. What I still remembered, which is why I chose this book today, is the more or less “stockmarket-like” talk about marriage. What I mean by stockmarket-like is the approach and the use-value calculation: you marry, you have money for a life time, you will be safe.
We know that this calculation is still relevant today, as much as it was back in Victorian England and the U.S., and as much as it is still relevant in many cultures. Again, I am not judging. The other alternative women of “well-educated” backgrounds had in the past was to enter the monastery. And even that did not merely depend on their level of education but on their family status. Be that as it may, if I just put myself into this situation and think about it — is it a feasible option? Does it make sense in the pragmatic way in which it is being phrased here? After all, I always stress my “pragmatic” approach to finding solutions. Why do I hesitate?
Many years back, a friend of mine, many decades my senior, told me one thing when I interrogated about marriage. He said: “It does not make you happier but it gives your life some sort of structure.” If I look at the statements of some people I appreciate a lot, they basically say the same thing — most of them men. They use different words but all of them talk about marriage like some everyday item in your fridge. It is like: “Well, you need butter, jam, some ham and cheese, and a bottle of beer. But to feel really well-equipped, you need a bottle of whine as well. And that is basically marriage!” You do not die if you do not have it. You are not necessarily happier with it but neither does it make you unhappier — in the ideal case, of course.
If you look at all spiritual “happiness” recipes, things like marriage, sex, etc. — anything in the outside world — is not related to TRUE happiness and bliss anyways. Still, if you look at some contemporary “spiritual” leaders, e.g., Eckhart Tolle or Jordan Peterson (well, the latter is not really a spiritual leader, still talking much about “mystical” and religious experience), you will find that most of them have spouses. Even Krishnamurti had a long-lasting affair but we are talking about marriage here. And Peterson, as far as I remember from an interview, gives a really down-to-earth explanation of how he fell in love and fought for his wife. It is a very intellectual explanation in many ways, since he basically stresses her wit and her sense of humor. So, what I am saying is: These people, no matter how fast their brains work and no matter how much they know about the spiritual insignificance of marriage as a “legal contract,” still practice married life.
Back to the economics of the equation: If there really is no spiritual or personal happiness gain involved in marriage, then the only really relevant aspect is of an economic nature. Yes, you might hit me in the face now but let us look at the fact: saving taxes, being “safe” in many ways, gaining certain rights when it comes to raising and adopting children, etc. — all these things are truly practical and connected to finances in one way or the other. So, the suggestion to get married, especially to a wealthy spouse, is anything but non-rational. And to make this clear, the person who mentioned it today said it with a wink but with the complete awareness of the historical significance of this institution.
The response I gave was: Not an option!
Now, I wonder if this does not really need more thinking.
And I do not mean more thinking with respect to finances at large.
I mean more thinking in general, also with respect to my life-long search for the “right” occupation.
Did the people who devoted all their life to “work” get TRULY happy?
If they were not monks and nuns…
To make this very clear, I do believe in the kind of oneness you can experience in love because I experienced it once. As all the spiritual masters in this world have known, however, it is very rare to find. Most people are not looking for it either, I think. And I am still not sure how much of this is “real” and how much of it is human projection. It is like any kind of intuitive knowledge. My meditation teacher once told me that there is no such thing as intuition, at least not in the spiritual world, because intuition, after all, is just super-fast and unconscious thinking — and therefore rationality after all. And even if this metaphysical kind of oneness exists in love and marriage. If you find it, it might not be there to last. And even if it lasts, it might not fill your fridge.
1) Can you sympathize with people who get married for financial reasons? Why/not?
2) What are possible advantages of “arranged marriages”?
3) What is most essential for a happy life according to your opinion/experience?