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How Social Class Affects Relationships and Marriages

In fairy tales, we often find the disadvantaged damsel in distress marrying her dream prince and they live happily ever after. We tend to see similar scenarios in romantic movies and novels as well, but in real life, can we expect the same thing?

Although social class isn’t the most important thing in relationships, it definitely plays a part in the ease of establishing one. Our social class shaped our mentality when it comes to money and interests. It also affects our type of education, community, and even our jobs. That said, if you’re single, can you imagine dating someone with spending habits drastically different from yours? If you graduated college and even pursued a master’s degree, could you comfortably date a high school graduate?

Couples from different social classes aren’t at all uncommon, but they admit experiencing challenges related to their economic statuses. That’s why luxury matchmakers match their clients based on social class, as one parameter. They recognize the importance of common interests, educational backgrounds, and more.

How Social Class Affects Interests

Common interests bring people together. In sports, for example, high-profile people tend to be into golfing, so if you are part of that social class, chances are, you either play golf, too, or you know a thing or two about the sport. You can enjoy playing or watching golf with someone who shares your interest. While common interests aren’t the most important thing in relationships, it affects the way you interact with each other.

Social Class Can Define One’s Power

As stated, social class typically affects the type of education, community, and job that a person has. Between partners, or even friends, the one who has the highest level of education or income can easily hold more power over the other. They tend to be the dominant one, because they have more resources. That power play can impact relationships and marriages.

Social Class Shapes Nearly All Aspects of Adult Life

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Jessi Streib, author of the book “The Power of the Past: Understanding Cross-Class Marriages”, interviewed college graduate men and women who married people outside their social class. Many of the couples she interviewed had been married for a while, because they were able to work on their differences. However, their individual responses showed how their social classes shaped their lives.

People who grew up in households with limited income learned to cope with their situation by going with the flow and getting by with limited options. On the other hand, people who grew up in well-off and wealthy households were able to enjoy more freedom to plan what to do with their resources.

Their social classes shaped their mentality about money, jobs, housework, time, leisure, and even emotions. Between couples, the one who grew up in a working-class environment was used to living from day to day, while their more well-off partners liked to plan, monitor, and organize their resources.

In married life, these differences affected not only the way each partner would spend money, but also the way they expressed their emotions and plans for the future. On money, they would argue whether to spend it according to a budget or gut feeling alone. With regards to emotions, one was usually able to express more openly, while the other preferred to wait until a solution was formulated. The couple would also sometimes be at odds when planning their children’s future. The well-off parent might choose to nurture the kids holistically, while the other might insist on setting goals for them.

To sum it up, married couples who come from different social classes have to negotiate a lot to arrive at a solution that will reconcile their clashing opinions. It shows that it isn’t impossible to live harmoniously with a partner from a different social class at all. As long as both parties make the choice of making their relationship work, they can put their social classes behind them.

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