There is so much to love about The Atlantic’s article “The Myth of Wealthy Men and Beautiful Women.” It reports on a new study by University of Notre Dame sociologist Elizabeth McClintock which states that romantic pairings are more likely to be people who are closely matched in terms of compatibility and values than people who are exchanging one type of scarce resource for another (e.g. “wealth” for “beauty”).
Read the whole piece, because the way Atlantic writer James Hamblin gets to the conclusion is delightful — he invokes the Simpsons episode “Lisa’s Rival” and suggests that some of the scarce resources couples could swap might be “graduate degrees” and “marketable skills” — and make sure you read every single quote from his interview with Dr. McClintock:
“Women spend a lot more time trying to look good than men do. That creates a lot of mess in this data. If you don’t take that into account then you actually see there’s a lot of these guys who are partnered with women who are better looking than them, which is just because, on average, women are better looking.”
“If the guys are hot, too, then sure, they can get a hot girl.”
“It’s not just this trade of his money for her beauty, and he’s going to dump her as soon as she starts to get some wrinkles around her eyes.”
(And now, the question for y’all: is your romantic pairing based solely on compatibility and values, or did you take into account resource-swapping — even a little bit — when you built your partnership?)
When we got home, though, I started to freak out. Not freak out because now our money was intertwined and swiftly dwindling and SOMEONE didn’t pay the electric bill for a few months and so one of the first charges was like $200, which was historically something I wouldn’t have been aware of. No, I decided to channel my anxiety of our ever-increasing co-dependence into the fact that this account was HIS account and not mine. I was simply on it.
According to a press release sent to Mike by a concerned tipster and loyal reader — haha, JK, by Edith — “The Average Affair Begins 2 Years into Marriage, Lasts Six Months and Costs Over $2,600.” Are you ready for this?
In addition to potentially costing a person their happy home and marriage, a leading coupon brand has revealed that the average affair costs the cheating party over $2,600, including dollars spent on expensive dinners, hotel check and gifts while sneaking around behind their spouse’s back. The survey, conducted by www.vouchercloud.net, was part of the company’s wider research into the leisure spending of American citizens, after an increase in searches for dating discounts. 2,645 US citizens took part in the study, all of whom were aged 25 and over and had been married to their current partner for a minimum of 5 years.
Aged 25+, married 5+ years … holy god, they’re talking about me! So what do I have to look forward to?
The following list reveals the average spend per item per month:
Hotel Bills – $123 Dinner & Drink Tabs – $162 Gifts – $54 Date activities e.g. cinema tickets – $69 Other – $36
This equates to average expenditure of $444 per month. Considering the average affair lasts for six months, the total cost of an illicit extramarital relationship was revealed to be $2,664. The adulterous respondents were then asked: “Did/Does your spouse ever question your finances or notice any unexplained expenditure, in relation to your affair?” to which only a third (32%) said that ‘yes’, their partner had noticed their extramarital financial commitments.
Anna Sale’s fabulous new podcast Death Sex and Money recently featured the story of an Australia father of four who made the decision — eventually, after some angst — to get a vasectomy at the hands of a physician called, I swear to god, Dr. Snip.
Here in the U.S., the pill is the most commonly used form of birth control. Second is female sterilization, procedures like women getting their tubes tied, which is a more common form of contraception than condoms. But urologists say that vasectomies are simpler, safer, faster, and less expensive.
This led me to wonder, just how much more expensive is sterilization for ladies as opposed to gentlemen? According to BabyCenter’s fact page:
The cost of sterilization procedures ranges from $1,500 to $6,000. Most insurance companies will cover at least part of the cost of the procedure. In fact, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans must now cover contraception and sterilization with no cost to you. Plans that existed on March 23, 2010 – and some religiously affiliated employers — are exempt, but many are complying with the changes anyway.
As you might expect, a vasectomy is cheaper as well as easier:
Vasectomies cost about $350 to $1000 — far less than surgery to sterilize a woman — and many insurance companies will cover the procedure.
Basically the same difference in cost between being a bridesmaid and being a groomsman. Typical. After the jump, watch the intense but mostly SFW video of the vasectomy performed by Dr. Snip, filmed (discreetly) in real time.
Mike: “I don’t want your money! Keep your money!” Ester. I can’t get that song out of my head—it’s stuck. It’s from 21 Chump Street, from the This American Life musical that just went up earlier this week.
Ester: That’s hilarious, MD. I haven’t listened to it yet but I’m highly susceptible to earworms so I’m sure that once I do I too will suffer from your malady.
Mike: So, it’s from their live show, and they have a video you can download if you want, and yes, I wanted it. The cost of it was $5, but they said that since the show was so expensive to make it’d be great if you could pay more. So I paid $20.
Ester: That’s great of you! Did you consider waiting to see how much you enjoyed the content before deciding how much to give them in exchange for it? I just signed up for Slate Plus, where you pay the site $50 a year or $5 a month to get upgraded content — podcasts without ads, for example — but that was after years and years of reading and listening to Slate content gratis. Their value had already been demonstrated.
Mike: I decided that $20 was a fair price to pay for something I listen to on a weekly basis and want to continue to support, so I paid it without waiting to see if I liked the video itself.
Ester: Right, that makes sense. You’re not paying for the video, after all; you’re rewarding them for their track record. I have done that too for TAL specifically. (I’m a radio dork.) But do you have other podcasts that you listen to and like and haven’t contributed to, even though they’ve asked? What’s your criteria for deciding which listening experiences to support?
Doree Shafrir has written a fascinating Buzzfeed confessional about deciding whether or not to freeze her eggs. One issue to consider: cost.
I told my therapist that I was considering freezing my eggs, and she said she thought it was a good idea if it would alleviate some of the anxiety I felt about dating, and I said it would but it would also cause me a different kind of anxiety because it was so expensive in New York City — thousands of dollars in tests, then thousands of dollars for the drugs to stimulate egg maturation, then thousands of dollars for the extraction of the eggs. All told I would be looking at close to $15,000 to buy myself a few years of reduced anxiety, plus $2,000 or so each year to keep them frozen. I told myself it could be amortized over, say, five years and then it didn’t seem so bad. Still, I needed to come up with the money, so I cashed in a couple of 401(k)s from short stints at other jobs that had a couple thousands dollars in them each, and put a freelance check in my savings account, and figured I would charge the rest.
How much is it worth to you to quell a real and debilitating anxiety? My mom always says, If you can solve a problem with money, it’s not a real problem. But if you have to cash in 401(K)s and run up credit card debt to give your fertility a fighting chance, you’re not solving a problem with money at all; you’re potentially impoverishing your future self to benefit your present, and trading one immediate anxiety for another eventual one.
There’s a great episode of “the Sopranos” where Meadow brings her boyfriend Finn to dinner with her dad in a restaurant and Finn grabs the check. Tony’s response is light on the gratitude:
You’re lucky you don’t get your head handed to you. Let’s get something straight: you eat, I pay. When we’re family, you pay.
He throws some bills down on the table. Finn looks to Meadow for guidance and, bless her venal soul, she sighs, “Just take the money.”
Finn is dippier than a country road. In trying to do a Good Thing, he forgot that, just as you don’t get involved in land wars in Asia, you don’t get into a dick-swinging contest with your GF’s dad and/or the biggest mob boss in the NY metro area, especially not in public and when said GF, his daughter, is watching. What if we’re talking regular dads, not Godfathers, though? What if you go out to dinner with your parents, or your partners’ parents? How do you decide whether to pick up the tab? Etiquette dictates that if you invite, you pay, and vice versa, but what did etiquette ever have to do with the fraught-but-loving relationships between parents and children?
A prenup is:
a) Only necessary if one of the parties is a money-grubbing wench/weasel.
b) Imperative, considering the insanely high divorce rate. You’d be an idiot not to demand one.
c) Totally and completely offensive. If your beloved asks you to sign one, you’re better off running for the hills.
d) Nothing to be scared of.
According to Role Reboot, which got the story from the Frisky, husbands are happier when their wives also bring home the bacon. Why not, right? Twice as much bacon! Or, since women are paid less, ~1.85x as much bacon, but still. All that bacon makes bedtime sizzle.
MONEY asked couples to subjectively rate their happiness in relationships, as well as report on the “hotness” of their sex life. Of couples where the wife earned as much or more than her husband, 83 percent reported they were happy or very happy (compared to 77 percent of couples where the wife earned no money or earned less). Couples with higher-earning wives also reported the best sex lives, with 51 percent attesting that what goes down between the bedsheets is “very good.” But it wasn’t just the couples together who reported happiness. Men, specifically, said they were happy with their sex lives with high-earning women: fifty-six percent of those married to women who earned as much or more called their sex lives “very good” (compared to 43 percent when the wives earned less). These men also expressed more overall happiness.
Are the wives similarly thrilled? Not entirely: