It's not just members of jet-setting society and movie stars who marry into money. It's happening all around us, all the time -- you find someone with a hefty bank balance and take your social standing up a few notches by getting hitched.
All of us know of Mr X or Miss Y, who dumped a struggling partner and married the perfect spouse with a flashy job and an even flashier pay packet. They pin the blame on incompatibility, but the moot point is not only that a Veronica Lodge usually scores over a simpleton like Betty Cooper to land her man, but that love pales in light of money. And the more honest among us have no qualms admitting that.
Says Ashmita Roy*, 27, from Delhi, "I was dating this guy in college. We were in the same class. Yes, we were in love. But there's more to life than holding hands and walking on the beach. One needs to be practical. I love the good things in life and it would have taken years for my boyfriend to provide me with what I'm used to. And so I married the man my family chose for me. My husband took me to Europe on our honeymoon. I love my life and have no regrets!"
A resident of Delhi's posh Gol Mohor Park, Nita Sabarwal*, 28, has a similar story to tell. "I used to date this guy who was studying medicine. We were of the same age. Soon I realised that it would be years before he could even start to earn a decent sum of money. He told me that he couldn't dream of getting married before 30 since he wouldn't be able to afford a wife. I didn't want to wait that long. I explained my situation to him and we parted ways amicably." Today, Nita is married to a wealthy businessman.
Sukanya Das* (30) from Hyderabad says, "I met my boyfriend when I was 18. He wanted to be a singer. We were together for five years and I realised that he didn't have it in him to succeed. He refused to accept that and look for a stable job despite being an MBA. I didn't want to live the rest of my life in a shabby one-room flat, the wife of a struggling singer who didn't want to accept that he doesn't have it in him!" Sukanya is now happily married and lives with her investment banker husband in New York.
If you thought that only women are lured by the gleam of gold and not men, you couldn't be more wrong. Rajat Sharma*, a CA with a foreign bank in Mumbai left his girlfriend of 8 years to marry the only daughter of a successful businessman. Soon after his marriage, he left his job and joined his father in-law's business. Today he is very successful, with a huge business empire of his own. Ask him why he did it and he says, "My parents, especially my mother, didn't like my girlfriend. I couldn't go against my mother. So I parted ways with my girl and married the one my mother choose. I have no regrets!"
Did Ashmita, Nita, Sukanya and Rajat make the right choice? In life there's no right or wrong, decisions are made and they take life in a certain direction. There are also those who choose to stand steadfastly by their loved ones, but it's not always smooth sailing. Some are happy with the choice they made, while others do have a few regrets.
Kavita Sen*, 31, a senior manager with a five-star hotel in Delhi says, "I have supported my husband at every step. He is a doctor, whose practice isn't flourishing yet. I have worked hard to keep the family kitty running. While I don't regret my decision, I have to admit I feel envious when some of my friends go to Europe or the USA for holidays that their husbands sponsor. I wish my husband was successful and rich and I had the luxury to take a sabbatical from work."
Anita Sharma*, 32, from Mumbai says, "I had a love marriage and my huband is with the Air Force. I love him, but there are times when I wonder how life would have turned out if I had agreed to marry one of the guys my parents arranged as a match for me, from an elite MBA school, working in an MNC with a fat salary. Life would have been cushy. And yes -- I wouldn't have to work so hard to help my husband cope with the EMIs for our flat!"
Even those who married for money often wonder how life would have turned out if they had chosen to go with love. Sukanya is happy in her marriage but is desperately searching for her boyfriend on social networking sites. "I just want to know how he is. He hasn't made it big, else I would have known." Last year when she came to Mumbai, she visited the house where he used to live when they dated, in the hope of some news of him. If she is happy, why bother about a long-forgotten relationship and why the repeated efforts to locate him? She quotes the now-famous line of a credit card advertisement: "There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's a credit card!"
While many have wiped off the slate of their past and started afresh with rich partners, they candidly admit that while they're happy and contented, the relationship lacks chemistry. Says one young lady, on condition of anonymity, "I have everything a woman could possibly want money, a fabulous house, diamonds, foreign holidays -- but my marriage is hollow, without any fun. I often think of the tenderness I shared with my ex-boyfriend. I left him to marry a rich man, but lost out on love."
Life is full of contradictions. Our decisions take us on a path that may seem right at one moment in time, but in retrospect you can't help wondering, 'What if?'. Those who marry for money pine for lost loves and those who chose love often dream of untold wealth!
*Names changed to protect privacy.