Dig Your Own Gold
There was a law suit in Texas a few years back, between model Anna Nicole Smith and her late husband's family. It may be still going on, knowing the glacial pace of the legal system. Because her husband did not expressly name her in his will, his son attempted to disinherit her completely, on the unspoken assumption that, since she was a beautiful young woman, she must have been a money hungry gold digger who married her feeble old oil baron just to inherit his millions.
The truth of the matter is that Anna Nicole, a successful model with money of her own, was relentlessly pursued by her husband for four years before agreeing to marry him. Hardly a wise course of action for someone intent on grabbing a lot of cash. From all accounts, even though there was a tremendous age difference between them, they had real affection and love for each other, and that the law suit was as much about a wife's desire to be respected and recognized under the law as it was about digging for gold.
Anna Nicole, for whatever troubles she faced in life, was not a gold digger. So why, then, is everyone so eager to believe she was? Aside from the fact that a great number of gorgeous women are routinely suspected of every imaginable evil, part of the reason people call her a gold digger is because there are so many, many people who actually fit that description.
The stereotype is more than familiar. Gorgeous young people, of both sexes, marrying the old and the wealthy, ensuring financial security in return for a few years of mock devotion. Even more common is the dream of marrying a rich person your own age, who can provide houses and cars and a life of leisure for many, many years to come. You can buy books that tell you how to land a rich husband, how to get a big diamond ring from him, how to craft the prenuptial agreement to protect your interests when you divorce. Marrying for money - and only for money - has become the dream of a considerable number of people. Just look at the number of women willing to marry a complete stranger on national tv just because he was a millionaire. But we all know how that turned out.
The problem with gold digging is that you aren't marrying someone whose acumen, business ability, talent or skill you admire. You are marrying them because of a profound lack of these things in yourself.
There must be some part of you that's dead, some dull, heavy part of your soul that has determined that you yourself will never amount to anything, will never earn anything for yourself, and are content to take whatever you can in life from whoever is willing to give it to you. The part of you that could admire achievement and ability - and the money that results - has surrendered to pure, irrational greed. You see a wedding ring as the easiest route to luxury, without having even the most basic understanding that true luxury, and true happiness in life, has to be earned, in very real ways.
I maintain that for a marriage to be successful, each partner must have their own money, and if possible, their own source of income. It is essential to self-esteem, and to maintaining respect between what ought to be equal partners. It doesn't mean that you have to live as separate beings or guard your own bank accounts religiously. It simply means that each person enjoys autonomy in the relationship, freedom and choice. It is easier to respect your partner when they are equal, when you aren't taking care of them completely, when they are fully adult and therefore with you out of choice, not out of economic necessity.
A great number of battered women would leave their abusive relationships if they had the financial means to do so. Living under the economic thumb of their husbands for so many years has reduced them to powerlessness, to the inability or the belief in their inability, to take care of themselves. While I am sure there are many, many other reasons for domestic violence, I am convinced that if women were stronger, more independent, and more sure of their own worth, if they knew they could make their own money and provide for themselves, men with abusive tendencies would think twice about asserting control over them through violence and intimidation.
But even in pleasant situations, marriages in which, by mutual agreement, one partner stays home with children while the other works, it is important that the caregiver earn money, even a token amount, themselves. The partner who works ought to pay the other for their services to the family, not as an allowance or a handout, not in the spirit of economic power or superiority, but in recognition that their contribution is extremely important, and that they should be compensated for it. Yes, having a happy family is a reward in itself. But having the economic freedom to buy that book you've wanted to read, to take a night school course, to do the things that are important to you without having to ask your partner to give you money is absolutely essential as well.
Dig your own gold. Don't rely on the wealth or talent of another person without having anything to offer of your own. Your partner will respect and love you all the more for it, and, more importantly, you will respect yourself.