Happy Valentine’s Day! If you’re female and are waiting for your significant other to pop the question, I’m here to give you a couple of things to think about before you start planning your wedding.
I’m not against marriage as an institution; hell, I imagine that I’ll be tripping up the aisle of a registry office myself at some point in the future. But ladies, marriage can seriously damage your wealth, even if your beau is the stereotypical Prince Charming.
First things first: the idea of marrying for love is relatively new. Previously, marriage was about strengthening political or commercial ties, with unions being forged to ensure the transfer of property and other assets as advantageously as possible. Generally, only the very poorest could marry for love; the rest of society had to keep one eye on the family fortune. Whether the bride and groom actually loved each other was a moot point. Today, while the majority of us are free to marry whomever we choose, there are still a number of issues to think about.
No matter how much lip service either party pays to equality between the sexes, studies have shown that women will still do the bulk of the housework amongst co-habitating heterosexual couples. Not only that, but where health and earnings are concerned, marriage will actually be of greater benefit to a husband than to a wife. Should a woman have the temerity to breed, she will be the parent expected to manage the bulk of the childcare too. Even if they return to work after maternity leave, they will find themselves on the “Mummy Track,” possibly demoted, but definitely sidelined from greater career progression. Some unfortunate women even find themselves dismissed, and consequently find it difficult to find an employer willing to take on a woman with responsibilities outside the office.
And if true love doesn’t last, don’t imagine that ladies can take a hefty divorce settlement and spend the rest of their lives eating bonbons while they bleed their ex-husbands dry. Indeed, even if they have to pay child support and alimony, over a number of years, men’s earnings not only recover but can actually improve after divorce or separation. By contrast, women actually find themselves worse off after the end of a relationship, especially if there are children involved. In most cases, their earnings never recover and they will continue to struggle for the remainder of their professional lives.
Today is supposed to be a day for romance, and I understand that people may feel that I’m raining on their loved-up parade. But behind the roses, chocolates and cosy meals for two is the lurking sceptre of relationship breakdown. How many pairings last forever these days? So before making the leap, take a good hard look at your finances and decide whether you will be able to cope if “I do” turns into “I don’t want to do this any more.”
[Image by Felipe Beiza]