This is a great topic for thought and learning, whether you’re a female or male.
My (male) 2 cents:
I married early, at age 23. While common in my parents’/grandparents’ generation, this is uncommon for us Millenials, especially those with college educations. Average age at marriage today for a male is 29, and significantly older for those like me with college degrees.
I am married to my college sweetheart. When we got engaged at age 22, I had relatively low savings and an (good) entry-level job. Essentially, my wife “invested” in me. I believe she truly loves me for who I am but clearly she and her family also needed to believe I had good potential on the earnings/provider front. So far, she’s correct: about 4 years later, our net worth is now ~$4m.
Another element of the equation is kids. My wife and I both want 3-5 kids, and we knew that for best results – low probability of birth defects + ability to parent energetically and have a long life as empty nesters – we needed to get started early. Thus, early marriage allowed us to spend several years together as a happily married couple, buy a house, do some self-development and relationship building before have our first kid. We did not feel super-pressured by time to have our first one, and looking back I feel this helped our relationship for the better.
In college and even before that, I had never been very popular with the ladies. I was obsessed with developing my career (through reading and internships), developing my personal skills (foreign languages, foreign cultural knowledge, field-specific knowledge), and getting high grades. Despite this, I did not go to an Ivy-caliber undergrad school due to my parents’ desire to avoid the high price tag.
Thus, I ended up feeling somewhat out of place at my average public high school and public university. I felt I did not have the time or energy to devote to “socializing” due to strict discipline of allocating time toward internships, school study, practicing my skills/languages, and maintaining personal fitness.
Anyway, I was obsessed with BUILDING the ultimate resume at the time where most girls were more interested in going on fun dates, group dates, parties, club activities, etc. I – selfishly but probably correctly – preferred study-buddy, workout partner, or language partner. Otherwise, not a good use of my time/energy and detractive to my ultimate goals. However, there was not a high demand among attractive girls to be “Rio_2016’s study-buddy.”
Finally I met my now-wife in my junior year of college. She was willing and even happy to sit with me for hours while I studied/read/practiced languages and would go to the gym with me as well. In hindsight, I now understand that while she doesn’t MIND any of these pursuits, she is not really as passionate about these activities as I am. She saw something within me – probably a combination of good potential mate, a nice person, a good potential resume – and decided to take a chance.
Anyway my point is that, for young people thinking about how to approach their future romantic life, there are nuances between “resume OR soul mate” and some gray areas as well. Was I a great resume when my wife decided to spend a lot of time bonding with me? No, not at all. I didn’t have a full-time job and was a college student at a relatively vanilla university! That said, those close to me at the time knew I had great potential. For women or men willing to look beneath the surface and, if they like what they see, take a chance on a partner while relatively young, the “investment appreciation” potential can be significant if you invest correctly.
And maybe the most important thing – I will be that much more faithful and loving toward my wife during the coming decades, knowing that she took a chance on me when my future earnings and resume were well under 100%-certain. Hell, I can remember countless times when I earned a precious block of free time but had trouble or could not even find a date for the coming Saturday!
Thus I KNOW for a fact that, even if some % of my attraction to my wife was “future resume potential,” she had to spend a lot of time/energy just to discover that, and furthermore take a gamble on the uncertainty – failure, sickness are always possible – and finally actively HELP my resume to come true. This is why I did not even consider for a second asking my wife to sign a prenup, nor do I pressure her too hard to work outside the home (she is a housewife despite having an advanced degree).
Now that my “resume” is starting to come true, it is a little hard for me to feel too sorry for the MJs of the world, to be honest. There are many MJs I would have been happy, or more than happy, to date when I was 20. Obviously I am a bit of an edge case but I feel this is somewhat true with a few of my successful peers as well. But I felt that the MJs of the world were not too interested in me at the time. We are too intense, not socially cool enough or in the right clubs/groups, not good at living in the moment, etc.
In college, my 2 most (ultimately) successful friends in the same field also had trouble finding solid girls to date, as well as enough time/energy to “chase” women. Yet those characteristics – working so hard at improving their personal abilities that they did not have time to wine+dine girls or go to many parties/dinners – also ended up allowing them to earn more money 5-10 years down the road. (As well as cultivate a good lifelong work ethic.) Somehow, few to no girls really tried to bond closely with them, even though they have ended up building ridiculously good resumes. I guess at the time, the girls lacked foresight + wanted to enjoy college/early+mid 20s (rather than encouraging their guy to read another chapter of a book) + admittedly the guys did not have time/energy to put themselves out there very much.
I also know centimillionaires with very similar issues. Surprisingly, at the time they were quite young and PRE-success (working hard into the night to build the foundation), few to no women had the foresight or IMAGINATION to see into the future, to $100s of millions of dollars of wealth and the potential to build a life with a guy like that from GROUND ZERO.
I do know one couple kinda like “us” – decimillionaire guy whose wife saw his great potential at a quite young age – and they are quite happy, without a lot of the trust, closeness, or maybe even fidelity issues I sense in pure “resume” marriages.
(BTW, I don’t like high marginal tax rates due to a similar issue – I know how much many, though admittedly not all, high earners had to work/sacrifice from a very young age – in my case, sacrificed a lot of potentially fun times from age 13 to now in the name of building my personal skills and creating future wealth – and think it’s a little unfair that later in life, the reward would be reduced by significantly higher tax rates than most others pay.)
If I had met my wife in my late 30s, or even in my late 20s, I’m not sure how I would feel. I would have already earned significant money, already built the resume. I would probably be a little worried in the back of my mind: she’s marrying me for the resume, she likes me for the money/status, etc. I feel much more satisfied today, knowing that not only did my wife love me when I was just a nerdy, introverted college guy, she also gave me support in various ways to actually go out and build the “resume.”
To use a VC metaphor: my wife was NOT doing a late-round pre-IPO “momentum” Series F. She was not trying to cash in on a clearly already-successful situation, expecting a near-immediate IPO (financial windfall). No, she was an ANGEL investor, funding me without expectation of liquidity for several years, and with no thought of ever trying to challenge the CEO, obtain liquidation preference, or ask for various pre-IPO financial manipulations. Yes, we get along very well and truly love each other. But it’s not like we were soul mates from Day 1.
Like Kameron implies above, sustainable good chemistry can take time, work, and patience – in our case, years – to develop. I also think the perfect resume does not necessarily make the perfect partner, and like bearkat says above his character needs to be closely judged before making a decision. MJ may have already gauged his character, as she has accepted his engagement, but I would advise her to try to make sure if possible (and I disagree w/Matt – having a JD and a high-paying job is NOT a great proxy for character. Probably there is a correlation factor above zero, but it’s far less than 1.0.)
PS, I would recommend the below book for both men and women: