For Love or Money: The New Male Vocation Is….

The cover story in Time magazine headlines:  The Richer Sex:  Women, Money, and Power. It reports on studies showing that almost 40% of working wives make more money than their husbands and goes on to say, “Assuming present trends continue, by the next generation, more families will be supported by women than by men.”

This raises some interesting questions:  Will present trends continue, or will things shift back again towards men carrying more of the load to support the family?  If present trends do continue will it be good for men, women, and children?  Could the new male vocation be learning how to love more rather than learning to make more money?

I think there’s a wonderful opportunity here.  I’d offer it in the form of an equation (thanks to author Chip Conley for the idea of turning big ideas into short equations):

________    =  Happiness

Love divided by money equals happiness.  I know for most of my adult life, I thought I created happiness for myself and my family by working harder and harder to make more and more money.  I put a lot more effort into making money than learning the skills to love myself, love my wife, and love my children.  I knew I loved them, but I thought I expressed it best by making money.

My equation of effort might have looked like this  1/10 = 0.1.  I put in 1 unit of learning to love for every 10 units on making money.  Now, with so many men finding it difficult to make money, perhaps we can reverse this equation.  10/1 = 10, where we can put ten units into learning to love for every unit on making money.

What do you think?

Photo Credit: Time Magazine Cover March 26, 2012

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  1. Hi Jed,

    An interesting article as always.

    I have trouble with your equation. To some extent, money helps me love myself and others. I am still of the mentality that earning money makes me a better man, and with that enhanced sense of self-worth I am a happier man, and more apt to love. If I were to lose my job and be unable to find work for a long period of time, I wonder how I would have to change in order to be happy. Perhaps your equation would make more sense to my more evolved self.

    • Rick, I understand what you’re saying. But what I’ve come to see is that it isn’t the money, that brings us happiness, but our ability to be valuable to ourselves, our families, and our communities. I’d suggest that when we earn money, what we’re really saying is that we are doing something of value and the money is an expression of that. But what happens if we are out of work. For me, I went into a depression (as do many others) because I had equated my worth with the money I earned from my job.

      Money is a means of exchange. When it gets wrapped up with our self-worth, we suffer.

  2. Paul Chapelle says:

    Dear Jed
    This article really exposes a”pandora’s” box of beliefs and emotions. I have known for a long time that I fear losing my job and opening that box. When I think of becoming vulnerable financially, I think of being vulnerable to my living parents. I don’t ever want to go there. Clearly, when we don’t feel loved, or know how to love ourselves, we do all kinds of things to find value. Earning money is a main one. So I am concious of looking after my health so that I can keep working.

    • Paul,

      Good points. We all want to live and work, but in a changing economy, more of us will be out of work for more periods of time and we need to be able to feel self-value, both when we are making money in a job and also when we’re out of work.

  3. The problem that will arise is that women will begin to feel that men aren’t important. They key to a good life is money, and women expect the man to give that to her. They’ve been trained this way since the 50s, starting with Betty Friedan. It’s not going to vanish overnight just because they say it will. Men learned a long time ago that they have to give up something of themselves in order to provide for a family; women don’t seem to have learned that, and they won’t get that lesson from feminists.

    A man cannot provide for his family feels reduced. How will a man feel when he is told he is not necessary? How will men react? Will there be more homosexuality in both sexes? Fewer children? More “domestic violence”?

  4. We all have to accept that we are entering a time of change. The simple truth is that we are running out of “stuff” whether its minerals from the earth, clean water, soil to grow food, or the “stuff” we buy. We have to learn to live in balance with nature. We are part of nature, just as important a part of nature as the trees, the bees, and the bugs. We have our unique story to contribute. Men and women need to learn that love is “stuff” that expands through time and we’ll never run out of. We need to let each other know that we can live on less material stuff and still be happy.

  5. What I’ve been thinking about posting is very similar to what Mike posted. I am a 43 divorced man. I have 2 boys, 14 and 11, and have been divorced for 7 years. As I play the reasons for my divorce over and over in my head, as it seems I am incapable of NOT doing, I see my ex-wife’s resentment going back years before I thought it did, and it all involved money. I grew up in an Irish Catholic household, for what it’s worth, and always heard romantic crap like “money’s not everything” and “money can’t buy love”. I now believe that was at least partly wrong. I was still in college when I met my ex so she was working in a good job and I had about NO money (resentment), I talked my ex into quitting her job and moving to Boise, ID where, it turned out, I would be unemployed for a while, when I was not UNDER-employed (resentment). When we moved to the Finger Lakes we learned that, due to a mistake in our lease to purchase option from the Boise property, we may lose LOADS of cash so we had to scrimp and save, this when we should be enjoying our newlywed phase (resentment). I told her that, before we had kids I wanted to go to Germany and Ireland. The idea was two-fold. I wanted to visit these places before the incredible burden of child rearing but, more importantly, I wanted to be able to AFFORD to visit europe before having kids. More resentment. Ironically, my ex got pregnant IN GERMANY. We had our first son when we were living in the Finger Lakes, 6 hours from family, more resentment. As our son got older we started to outgrow the house we were in and, with the economy doing OK at the time, decided to buy land and build. The project that should’ve taken 4 months took 12. More resentment. Eventually, the house was done and we had 2 boys and still no family support. Resentment.

    Of the entire time that I was married to my ex-wife I can remember one legitimate moment of pride. I had just taken a job that was almost a 100% raise over what I was making and my ex realized that she’d be able to work part time and stay at home part time. She was very proud of me, for a short period of time. Eventually we wanted to get closer to family so we moved in with her parents until the house we built sold. More resentment. We finally sold it and bought a place that just didn’t fit us. I’ll throw in that I got more involved with politics in the 2004 election at that time which caused, yes, more resentment. And while my extracurricular activities caused a lot of resentment and had a lot to do with my divorce, I know that the foundation was built on financial resentment.

    For whatever they say, women still want to feel supported and I don’t just mean emotionally. No, you can’t just make massive coin and not be home helping out and raising the kids but the whole 50-50 thing doesn’t work either. I remember watching the movie The Wedding Singer with my current wife not long ago and there’s a scene where Adam Sandler’s character is telling a friend about how the girl that ditched him wanted to be supported or something and the friend, a female, says “we all want that”. I started crying. All my life I knew there were rules to this game, women want a guy with money. I guess I didn’t know how much. My grandmother always told me that it was just as easy to fall in love with a rich girl as it was a poor one but I never took it seriously. I thought my marriage would be a partnership. I was all down with equal rights. She can work and I’ll help out as much as I can. I’ll cook and clean and change diapers, unlike any male in my family ever did. Women don’t want that. They want to work IF THEY WANT TO, ie, for pleasure, for a sense of pride and to get away from the kids. They don’t want to NEED to and certainly not while you’re buying a mountain bike when you could be studying to make more money at work.

    I have 2 sons, as I said, and as they get older I will be telling them not to get married. The laws are set up to work against men and fathers right now. And IF they were to get married I would tell them not to have children because there is no pain greater than having your children taken from you and having to pay the person that took them untold sums of money while they sleep with someone else and raise your children with them and, again, the laws are set up to ensure this right now. I will do everything I can to explain to them that they NEED to have a secure job paying good money for themselves and anyone they might marry AND they will need a rock solid prenuptual agreement to ensure that she cannot leave with his accomplishments. Further, I will explain that IF he has children he needs to be very active in their life and, in the event that the same thing happens to him as to me, that he should go to war and I will bankroll that war so that he does not have to live as me.

    Money makes the world go ’round and women still want to be supported. They also want the ABILITY to work IF they want and WHEN they want. Do this and you’re golden. Anything else is romanticization, unfortunately. 🙁

  6. Seth Jackson says:

    While the article does raise a good point, I’m not so sure love and money can be broken down into this specific equation. I’m not so sure making money necessarily detracts from one’s own happiness as this equation would express, since as Money would go up, happiness would go down if Love stayed the same. It’s a tricky balance, and one I’m not sure we’ve found a good general answer to just yet.

    In the more specific realm of my own life, I can say one of the most bleak times in my life was when I went through an extended period of unemployment last about eighteen months. I dropped into a deep depression, experienced nightmares, and generally had one of the least happy times of my life, which centered around the ability to generate money. Now some ten years on from that stretch, I’ve established a level of financial security I never thought I could achieve back then. What’s more is I have what I call a “base line”. I know if all else fails, if everything I have is stripped away tomorrow, I can still go back and start all over and at least live decently until I get the reserves built back up. This has never happened to me before, and I have to say I like it!

    Through this, as I’ve mentioned before my only marriage has lasted about twenty years now, and it’s certainly been “for better or worse.” The first half’s been on shaky financial ground, the second half much more stable, even if wasn’t our first choice of how to proceed careerwise. She’s said she’s always loved me for who I am, not for what I can do or make, and I think the intervening years have proven this out, even if I internally questioned it during the blacker times.

    In closing, I’d like to propose an alternate equation, which I think may be closer to the truth.

    (Love X Weight Factor 1) + (Money X Weight Factor 2) = Happiness, where Weight Factor 1 + Weight Factor 2 = 100%