For Richer Or Poorer? What Japanese Women Really think About Money and Marriage


It’s an age-old question: Which is more important, love or money?

There’s no right answer, and your feelings on the matter could very well change over the years. But really, you don’t want your life to be completely devoid of either, do you? Well, maybe if you’re exceedingly lucky, you have plenty of both and won’t ever have to think about choosing between the two (but I have the feeling that many of us aren’t that lucky). Sure, the Beatles can sing “All You Need Is Love” all they like and we can join along at the top of our voices, but can you really make a relationship, or even more complicated, a marriage work without money?

To find out how important Japanese women think money is in a marriage, Daiwa Next Bank and Starts Publishing Corporation recently conducted a survey through the popular women’s information site OZmall operated by Starts Publishing.

According to reports on the survey, 532 women who use the OZmall site were asked three questions involving marriage and money.

1.Marriage Without Money?

The first question in the survey asked women, “Would you be willing to marry without money?” Now, if we’re making polite conversation and want to put on a good girl’s face, we may be tempted to say that money doesn’t matter and love is the most important thing in a relationship. But here’s what the survey results actually showed:

Overall, a very large 72% of the women polled answered that they wouldn’t want to marry without money. A break-down of the results by age group was also available: Women in their twenties were most inclined to consider money a necessity, with 78% answering that marriage without money was a no-go; in the other age groups, 68% of women in their thirties and 67% of women in their forties answered “No” to the question. To be honest, this writer found the difference between the age groups here quite surprising, since I would have thought that young people would be more likely adhere to the old “love can conquer all” adage.

Some of the reasons that women gave for answering “No” to this question included: “Marriage involves reality and daily life, not just ideals”, “You don’t want to be scraping by; you want to have some room to breathe in your life, both financially and mentally” and “If you have children, you don’t want them experiencing financial hardship.” On the other hand, women who answered “Yes” gave reasons such as: “The wedding doesn’t have to be a fancy, expensive affair”, “If both of us work, we should be able to get by” and “You can start saving after you get married.” Hmm, to me, it seems people who answered “Yes” are quite optimistic about their finances. Practically speaking, starting a new life and home without money, even if it’s with the person you love, can’t be easy.

2. Ideal Partner’s Income?

The second question in the poll asked, “Ideally, how much income would you like your partner to earn?” This can understandably be a sensitive topic, since people probably don’t want to sound like greedy money mongers who judge their potential partner based on their income. Here’s what the women said:

The largest number of women answered that they would like their partner to earn 6 million yen ($67,000) and up. Although this figure doesn’t sound too unreasonable considering the cost of living and raising children in Japan, this survey result could be slightly problematic news for men looking to get married, since according to Japan’s National Tax Agency’s survey in 2010, the average income of Japanese men in their early thirties was 4.32 million yen ($48,000) and 5.05 million yen ($57,000) for men in their late thirties, revealing a gap between expectations and reality. But then, we all know that reality can be harsh, even when it involves a union of love, don’t we? Especially in a time when we still can’t be too optimistic about the economy in Japan, I guess we can’t really blame women for wanting a certain amount of security in marriage, at least in terms of income.

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