Some centuries ago, the purpose of money in marriage was very important - so much so that people actually based their decision on who to choose with a simple maths equation.
This was because it was pretty much essential that whoever you chose as a marriage mate had to have a fair bit of dosh - at least that was the case for those in the upper classes.
YouTuber Ellie Dashwood specialises in history and literature and has over 26k subscribers. In one of her videos, she talks about the two important aspects that money and marriage served and explores the equation.
She highlights the fact that survival and comfort, and social standing and social climbing were really what people focused on when choosing their partner back in the day.
Believe it or not, Ellie goes on to say that during the Regency period, the upper class actually did still want to marry people they liked, but their social sphere was always limited giving them a ‘wealthy guys only’ option.
During the Regency era, it's believed that the couple would need to be earning an absolute minimum of £200 to £250 a year between them, which may seem like peanuts now, but was a decent amount back then.
In the book Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, Isabella Thorpe said that £400 is “income hardly enough to find one in the common necessaries of life” - which says it all, really. Although, there really is a range of opinions on how much money was acceptable when it came to marriage, with Marianne in Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, claiming that “£2,000 a year was a moderate amount.”
The equation that is displayed throughout Jane Austen’s work and explained by Ellie in her video is as follows:
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“Husband’s income + wife’s income = enough to maintain lifestyle?”
This was a question they really had to think about as a couple, because if it equalled no - they were in trouble.
Some purposely married into money, with Charlotte Lucas in Pride and Prejudice telling Jane Bennett she should only think about money first, and love after. But in another one of Jane Austen’s novels Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland says “to marry for money, I think the wickedest thing in existence.”
It’s very clear from Jane Austen’s work that money did sometimes play a huge part in love, after all, the clever equation suggests if you can’t maintain your lifestyle, it’s simply not going to work. Although the idea of love was encouraged more in the 18th and 19th century, class and wealth were still very important to some.
The idea of money over love may be a thing of the past, but it does beg the question, do we still witness couples marrying for money and financial status and making use of this equation?
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that money is often the root of squabbles between couples.
Counsellor Jacki Whittaker from Stoke-on-Trent said: “Money doesn’t seem to be an issue when choosing a partner anymore, but it can become an issue once the relationship progresses.
“If one partner starts earning more than the other, it can cause an imbalance of power, leaving one feeling more insecure. I do think having a well off partner is more of a thing of the past, though.
“Now independence means people are more free to marry for love and not for money.”