How marrying down hurts our ability to build wealth (or ten reasons why women shouldn’t settle in the marriage market).

by Elle of Happy, Healthy and Almost Wealthy

Ladies, there is a concentrated effort to get us to lower our expectations.

To demand less.

To be satisfied with the absolute bare minimum.

These attacks are coming from all over: the media, the “experts” and the men.

Sometimes these demands are packaged as a careful ploy, “She who asks for nothing gets everything.”

(Spoiler Alert: This is bullshit from a man who has nothing.)

Other times, it’s packaged as well-meaning advice from other women.

This rhetoric is harmful and misguided. We do NOT need to settle for anyone or anything. More specifically, we should be extremely mindful of being pressured to “marry down” (e.g. marrying someone with less education, income and from a lower socioeconomic status with overall lower earning potential) while our peers are assortively mating.

And in all likelihood, if we choose to settle ANYWAY, we (or our community, or children, or careers) will end up much worse off than if we remained content as singles. How and why?

1.) When black middle-class women marry down, we create shortage for black working-class women. If a black man with no college education can easily marry a college educated, higher-earning black woman, there is no incentive for him to marry his working-class counterpart.

2.) This leaves working class women unmarried and reproducing with unsavory individuals like felons, effectively positioning another generation for economic failure.

3.) More than half of college educated black women marry men without a college education. Comparatively, our white and Asian peers do not, which leaves our children at a disadvantage, as they’re competing with children from homes with higher-educated power parents and higher incomes.

4.) This also leaves *us* at disadvantage in our careers, in terms of our available resources and support at home.

5.) Working-class men and women tend to have similar gender role expectations. Higher-earning women and lower-earning men tend not to have the same gender role expectations.

6.) Higher-earning women married to lower-earning men tend to perform the MOST unpaid domestic labor (housework) to overcompensate for breaking the gender norm. Specifically, they do more housework than a high-earning woman married to her equal, a low-earning woman married to her equal, and a woman who earns much less than her husband.

7.) These pairings tend to end in divorce, as division of unpaid domestic labor is a major factor in marital satisfaction.

8.) When we marry down, the likelihood of our husband having an affair increases.

9.) Being married tends to hold us back from achieving at work, so we shouldn’t take the double-whammy of marrying someone who is not our economic equal.

10.) It costs us about $25,000 per year.

Marriage should be a strategic decision, intended to improve an already good life. It should be an asset, not a liability. Your marriage should be a complement to a life that was already exceptional.

Don’t end up out here paying spousal support and alimony to these men, y’all.

“But what about the men?” -insert spongebob meme-

(This derailment is irrelevant, because most men don’t marry down. However, men who marry down take on less risk than women who marry down do, because of how much unpaid labor women all of social classes perform at home — men are still obtaining a value, whereas lower earning men produce little to no value, and typically are a liability.)

by Elle of Happy, Healthy and Almost Wealthy