At some point along the way of psychotherapy, I usually ask my patients what they want to achieve in their lives. Very commonly, they reply that, among other things, they would like to be married. Only on very rare occasions, do they tell me they want to marry someone who is rich. I find that surprising. Much of romantic fiction tells of a poor man or woman (usually a woman) who marries a very rich person and then leads an exciting and adventuresome life. Thousands of people buy a lottery ticket every day with daydreams of suddenly becoming rich. They have fantasies of how much better life would be for them if only they were rich. Wouldn’t marrying a rich person be like winning the lottery? The odds of marrying a rich person are much better (if you go about it properly) than that of winning a lottery. And yet patients rarely ask me what they need to do to marry someone who is rich.
Personally, I am not very impressed about the advantages of being rich, but there are some advantages. You can buy an expensive automobile, which impresses some people. You can buy a house, or two houses, if you a really rich. You can buy single malt whiskey and caviar, which are things some people like a lot. You can go on vacations where you can watch polar bears mate or see penguins walking around. You can buy a helicopter ride. (They are very expensive.) You can go to a different restaurant every day. You can afford to eat very strange foods, like nightingale tongues. You can eat as much ice cream as you could ever want, different flavors one after the other. You could buy all those things they advertise in The New Yorker, like fur coats and jewelry. But being rich does not automatically say SUCCESS to others, or VICTORY, or any other valuable or admirable quality of mind.
My mother used to tell me when I was very young and impressionable that “it’s just as easy to marry someone who is rich.” Plainly, that is not correct. There are fewer rich people than poor people. And there are still fewer very, very rich people. Still, some people manage it—some without even trying! Like anything else worth doing, however, a steadfast effort is more likely to lead to success. For those few patients who want to marry a really rich person (they say), this is the advice I give:
HANG OUT IN THOSE PLACES WHERE VERY RICH PEOPLE HANG OUT! Here in Westchester County I recommend taking boating lessons at one of the very selective yachting clubs. (Being selective means that you can’t join, but you can still sign up for lessons.) Even if you are sort-of ugly, you will learn how to sail a boat, which is probably enjoyable. (I wouldn’t know.) Besides, as I have said over and over in these blogs, being sort-of ugly does not mean you cannot appeal to very desirable people. It is a matter of personality, being joyful, for instance. Besides, if you are sort-of ugly now, it doesn’t mean you are doomed to be ugly forever. It is a matter of sprucing up properly.
I also recommend attending fund-raisers for charitable causes. The less familiar the cause is—like Ethiopian orphans, for instance—the more likely it is that the people invited will be very, very rich. These very, very rich people take pride in supporting charities that no one else has ever heard of. It is a little like driving a Duesenberg. When you meet someone at one of these soirees (a really fancy party), you do not have to pretend to be rich yourself. What is important is that you should be impressed by someone who is rich—which comes naturally to someone who wants to marry someone who is rich. However, you might want to stop long enough to ask yourself whether you want to spend much of your future dealing with Ethiopian orphans, and the like. This brings up the subject of the disadvantages of being REALLY, REALLY rich, which I have written about in other blogs.
I have given this advice to two or three women over the years. (Some men may very well want to marry a rich woman, but, I think, they are less likely to admit it.) AND THESE WOMEN HAVE NOT TAKEN MY ADVICE! In fact, as far as I could tell, they were not willing to go out of their way to marry a rich man any more than certain other single women are willing to go out of their way to meet any single men, rich or not. One of these women who pretended to want to marry a rich guy married a man who worked in a carpet store. I don’t remember who the other women married, but their husbands were not memorable as far as their income went, or in any other way.
Why would someone pretend to aspire to be rich and then refuse to do anything that would make such an outcome possible? Habit. As a therapist I spend much of my time trying to convince patients to try to do whatever they do a little differently. After all, what they are doing is not working; otherwise they would not have come to therapy in the first place. It is a difficult task. Convincing someone to take boating lessons, for instance, is very hard when that person cannot imagine herself taking boating lessons. So, I try by explaining to make the unthinkable thinkable.
People who want to marry someone really rich (or who want to win the lottery) want what they want without having to make a real effort to get it. And so they give up too easily. (Not the people who buy lottery tickets.) Also, I think that deep down, they may not be truly optimistic about the advantages of being really, really rich. That’s my guess, anyway.
(c)Fredric Neuman Follow Dr. Neuman's blog at fredricneumanmd.com/blog or ask advice at fredricneumanmd.com/blogask-dr-neuman-advice-column/