Living happily ever after in financially secure marriage? Not in this fairy tale.
It's the Cinderella story. You marry the man of your dreams and he's a prince, otherwise known as rich enough to support you so that you don't need to work for a living and can spend your life eating bonbons and living a life of leisure. Is this fairy tale all it's cracked up to be? Not necessarily.
What are the downsides?
There are definitely pitfalls to this arrangement; problems that may not show up immediately. The fantasy of being taken care of is a powerful one. It can be an extension of childhood where we are loved, cared for and protected without adult responsibility. One problem in this arrangement is that the caretaker may begin to view the other adult as a dependent child. Power is definitely a factor in these types of relationships. The breadwinner can easily feel taken advantage of once the thrill of conquest is past. The wage earner often feels entitled to make decisions without questions about matters that affect the family and also may feel they should be free of criticism of how they spend their time, where they go and what they do.
But I'm an adult!
Often, I hear the women in these relationships complain about a lack of power in their marriage. "I'm an adult!" they cry but they have relinquished, by the nature of the financial arrangement, a degree of adult independence. Men in these relationships often feel justified in spending money without question. They may love to lavish gifts on their wives or girlfriends but they may not allow her financial autonomy to make those decisions independently.
Do you behave like a child?
What often occurs is sneaking around behind the breadwinner's back. A trophy wife may start hiding purchases or squirreling money away to buy items of which her spouse does not approve. When the breadwinner partner does things which the woman (and it is still primarily women in these arrangements) objects to, she can become angry and frustrated when the man responds, "I work hard all the time, I can do what I like. I don't have to listen to you." The pattern is set: parent and child, employer and employee.
The more this continues, the more resentful both parties are likely to become.This can lead to the eventual breakdown of a loving relationship.
Does the man manage all the finances?
While trophy wives may pay everyday household bills, the man typically makes all the major financial decisions such as when to buy a house, how much to spend on a house, education for children, and investment decisions. I am constantly appalled to learn how even highly educated women in these marriages are ignorant of finances: "oh, he does all that." Women are often completely unaware of how much income is made, how much there is in savings, and what investments are made for the family.
Just because a man is successful in his career, whether it be a business, finance, law or medicine, does not mean they make sensible decisions about spending and investments. A trophy wife may choose to remain ignorant of these matters or the breadwinner spouse may exclude her from knowledge and decisions.
What happens if the relationship turns sour?
As I've pointed out there are pitfalls in this type relationship which can cause it to deteriorate. If it is the woman who thinks about leaving, she often feels trapped by her financial dependency and her habituation to a life of ease. I often work with women unhappy and ready to leave their men who have no idea about their financial position and what will happen to them if they divorce. They often feel stuck with men they no longer love or respect.
Know what you are getting into.
Couples in these relationships can be happy if they are open about their situation, discuss it fully before they assume set roles and constantly negotiate their relationship as well as their finances. Happily ever after IS a fairy tale. You have to work at it to make it work out. Unlike a fairy tale, the story does not end when you marry the prince.