Sunday, 4 April 2010

I'd rather have 100,00 dollars

More inflammatory stuff here-

Found via:

Nonetheless, if you had to take more than three seconds to think about this question, you are absolutely crazy. Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being. If you have a successful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many professional setbacks you endure, you will be reasonably happy. If you have an unsuccessful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many career triumphs you record, you will remain significantly unfulfilled.

From the moment I saw the headline, I knew I just had to do a post on this. It seemed to slide so neatly into that whole dismissal of the aromantic lifestyle that I've been brooding on recently. However, as I read through, the research seemed laughably far from the hypothesis above. Basically, the big news was that money doesn't make you as happy as social interaction! People who try to make themselves happier by getting more money fail!

This blog is basically anonymous, so I don't want to take pictures of myself, but one thing you should know about me is that I have a very good and well-practiced unimpressed face. And I'm doing it now.

Anyway, skipping briefly over "Money isn't the root of all joy! Who'd have thought it!", I'm going to address the first issue in the article.

Brooks correlates achievement and finance in a way which makes no sense to me, a finance/'spirituality' binary in which love is the spiritual side of life (oh, Ily, I hope you're reading this). He says that a marriage gives the same amount of happiness as $100,000 a year. So, as an aromantic, my only hope is to become Scrooge*, amass a vast amount of wealth and prove him wrong. Or I could join groups, share dinner, live with people, have sex and hang out with people after work, all of the other options which he admits are just as viable as marriage, but, you know, they're not proper relationships.

What doesn't work is Brooks' hasty analogy to Sandra Bullock. Because there, the game changes from financial success v. love to achievement v. love. These aren't opposing forces. Pride in yourself, in what you've done well, is not a hollow and cold replacement for healthy interaction- it is the very core of healthy interaction. Good relationships with others can be no more than mirrors of good relationships with yourself. In the comments to one of my recent posts, Joy talked about 'differentiation', the idea that you can only have some form of success or happiness in a relationship if you have that connection to yourself.

Not sure where I’m going with this, I just know that it hurts when people say marriage is the only chance anyone ever has at happiness. Actually, that’s pretty much what this post and a lot of past and future posts could be boiled down to. Screw that. I have my primary relationships and I have my ambitions, and I have a whole damn life ahead of me. I’ll get me my $100,000 worth of happiness, one way or another...

*I think I've just realised why A Christmas Carol always makes me cry- and it's to do with aromanticism. More on that story later.


  1. Yes, hi! :-)

    Brooks makes a dizzying number of logical leaps in that article.

    What bothered me most is that he uses marriage as the masthead for the more nebulous world of "personal relationships". For a lot of people, their marriage is their only close personal relationship. And those people are generally not happy. Not having a larger community outside of a marriage is a HUGE strain on a marriage. Of course, that was not mentioned.

    And none of the things Brooks mentions, from eating dinner with people to having sex, require being married. But he makes that leap anyway. He also talks about "successful marriages", which, considering divorce rates, are fewer than half of them.

    An Oscar is just a show of love and approval. As Sally Field said, "they like me!" I agree that what Brooks is proposing is my "favorite thing", the False Choice (tm). I read some of the comments to the article, and a lot of them mentioned that. Most people have neither a successful marriage nor an Oscar, so this hypothetical choice between them seems pretty pointless.

    I liked a lot of the comments on Feministe, too. The people who said "take the Oscar and divorce the cheater" are folks after my own heart :-)

  2. Also...I think some of the issues might be due to being a columnist and having to churn out a certain number of articles which are very short. Brooks tried to cover way too much ground for the space he was allotted.