Why are women refusing to marry down?

A thought provoking post from Financial Uproar (yes, a man) who basically asks women why they refuse to marry down, when men have been doing it for centuries!

His last paragraph sums it up:

It seems to me that women want to have it both ways. They want to maximize their own earnings, but still end up with a guy more successful than they are.

They want to feel taken care of, yet independent at the same time.

They fight for wage equality and equal opportunities, yet refuse to even consider dating someone who doesn’t meet their definition of success.

They want to simultaneously take care of themselves and have a man take care of them.

Enough with the double standard.

I see his points, but here are my responses as a woman who believes in 50/50 in a relationship (I pay half for everything including rent, food, etc), and who has a partner who has equal earning power (although in a regular job situation, he earns 30% more, being that he is older & more established for experience, but as a freelancer, I earn the same amount as he does).

I wouldn’t say we’re REFUSING to marry down, it’s just that we have other priorities to think about.


If you don’t want kids, why not “marry down”? But if you want kids, my earning power would be diminished for the period of having children (especially in a job like mine where it’s 100% travel), and I need someone who can fill in the gaps there just in case.

Women don’t have the choice to NOT carry the child (save for adoption or foster care).

If we could offload it or take turns with our partners (lucky lesbians), we would!! However, carrying a new life for 9 months, and then having to go through giving birth and recovering from that, while taking care of the child for at least the first 6-12 months of their life, is not an option we can shrug off.

We’re the ones who have to physically do it all and it affects our jobs and therefore, our earning power.

Maternity leave in Canada is pretty generous, but the U.S. is not as forgiving. You could be on maternity leave UNPAID for a year or however long, and in between that time, you could be fired and replaced by someone else who doesn’t have a small baby hanging off them.

Therefore, we can do things like save as much as possible from our income, but frankly, shizz happens.. so we need a partner to take over just in case something happens, so that the family stays secure and well taken care of.

In the case of all single mothers who do all of this on their own, I salute you.


The main point here is that I wouldn’t even meet him unless it was by chance.

I am not saying this to be a snob, I am saying it’s the truth.

If I have friends who are doctors, lawyers, in business, and they have friends of the same social circle, it’d be unusual to meet someone there who didn’t go to the colleges we attended, hang out in the same professional circles, work at the same jobs and/or stayed friends all the way from elementary or high school.

Someone who works at McDonald’s generally does not have the same friends of someone who works at a bank as an investment banker.

My second point is that it gets uncomfortable at gatherings when your friends don’t swim in the same circles.

That’s not to say that we can NEVER have friends who work at minimum wage jobs, or whatever… but if you put them all together, it might cause tension or discomfort especially in a romantic situation where they are the only ones who didn’t go to the same college and so on.

Or they just feel intimidated.

I was once told that I used fancy English instead of so-called normal English, just because I said: “I am not” rather than “I ain’t“. His parents actually told me that I made them uncomfortable with my choice of words.

Our friends may not have the same topics of interest or the same social/educational background to feel comfortable with each other.

This doesn’t just apply to women “marrying down” either.

For the record, I have seen this with men who have wives who aren’t in the same social circles as their husbands and their friends with their wives, so even when guys “marry down”, depending on the gap in social and educational status, their wives can also feel left out from conversations or just plain uncomfortable.

They feel like they don’t know what to talk about, they get shy, they feel like they aren’t intellectual enough to hold a conversation — lots of insecurity comes through without them knowing it.

They may look for any opportunity to either try and prove themselves to be worthy (charities, going back to school, etc — my cousin’s wife is like this, a real go-getter in society) or they find ways to beg out of these engagements or avoid them completely.


Granted, I don’t need much money to live, if I think about it deeply.

Sure, I spend more than I need to live, but if push came to shove, I could cut down on my spending habits.

However, that situation wouldn’t last for long if I could help it, because I’d look for a higher-paying job ASAP so that I could go back to eating good food and not living off ramen noodles.

I may be down and out, in Starbucks or McDonald’s serving the masses, but I’d have a Plan B on the side to get out of it and have a better job, considering my educational background and experience.

Even so, I want someone who can pull their weight financially, the way that I can. I don’t want to support anyone as much as they don’t want to support me! I want to be interdependent, not dependent OR independent. If not, what’s the point of a partner?

I had a friend from my business school who was fired unexpectedly from a company, and she ended up waitressing to pay her share of the bills even though her investment-banking husband could have easily handled the bills on his own.

THAT, is pulling your weight financially.

I don’t need a millionaire (I have my own money, thank you), I just need someone I can bond with and who works hard, and doesn’t just say: I will be a McDonald’s burger slinger forever, and nothing more.


I am controversial in saying this, but it is my experience that not only do women don’t want to marry down, men don’t want to marry up either.

I am not saying it is EVERYONE’S experience or views, but that’s generally what I am observing, even when I talk to guy friends. They want to feel like THE MAN.



The bottom line of it all is that I just want a partner.

An equal partner who is comfortable with my friends, is ambitious as I am, who can talk about the same topics that I can, rather than tell me “what you said, just went over my head“, and is truly my better half.

If I make more than him, great. So long as he doesn’t start getting lazy, slacking off and refusing to pull his weight because I’m there to fall back on.

…and if this guy happened to be working at a minimum wage job or going back to school at that moment, I wouldn’t hold it against him at all.

It wouldn’t freaking matter if I fell in love with him at the so-called ‘wrong stage’ of his life.

To me, he’s basically ‘making it work’ (in Tim Gunn’s words) to improve his situation and that is impressive.

I would see the potential in such a partner and his temporary situation wouldn’t matter as long as he had plans to move out of it, and not be complacent.

Besides that, I should note that it seems wives who end up supporting their husbands (usually it’s because the husband has a failing business he tried his hand at), and/or are the breadwinners in the marriages, tend to resent it greatly even if it makes no sense.

Read: MSN — The secret lives of breadwinner wives


About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.