Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Puzzler (your responses)

The question was this:
You can have one of these three things: wealth, a spouse, or children. They are mutually exclusive. Which would you choose?

I thought those were balanced choices, leading to some spicy decisions, but I was incorrect, because almost all of you chose "spouse".

Not all, but almost.

In doing so, you wrote some very poignant things. Like this:
I've always felt like a partnership is the natural situation for a human being.  And I'd face anything the world could throw at me with mine.  But in the periods of my life when I've been without a partner, I've constantly felt like I was going through the motions.

Another choice for spouse, and it's interesting how thoughtful the respondent is about the element of time:
My choice is spouse. I've found the experience of being a father more profound than that of being a husband. I think the parent-child relationship is more special. But there were a good number of years before our first child and there will (hopefully) be a good number of years later where my life is only tangential to theirs. I think having a long, happy, child-free marriage would be more fulfilling then entering my retirement (relatively) alone.

This is another thoughtful answer:
I'm 50.  In my youth, it would have been wealth without a doubt.  That is a product of both the rational expectation that the others would follow more easily, and the lack of understanding of just how meaningful a functional marriage can be.  While functional sounds anti-romantic, it's intended to capture the much broader depth of this particular relationship which is and should be utterly unlike any other in a person's life.  The first ten years of my marriage were rough and I did not expect the subsequent ten to be just the opposite.  My marriage has made me a far better father and the marriage itself has helped both of us be far better parents.  I've met way too many miserable wealthy people (as defined solely by financial means) to think as an adult that this is the preferable choice.  Perhaps most importantly, the meaning of wealth changes over time and I would say as a mostly grown up that a meaningful marriage/family life is the very definition of wealth. 

Someone had trouble with the rules:
I'm 36 and choose wealth and spouse. But 20 years ago I'd have chosen spouse and children.

My life experience has very clearly dictated that, however. I lost my parents at 22 and inherited their wealth. And my wife and I were not able to have children. So the fact that we have money (not a crazy amount but are very comfortable) and no children allows us to work jobs that we truly enjoy and not worry about how well they pay. We really do enjoy our daily lives and feel fulfilled even though life didn't go as planned.

Now, if you had added dogs as another choice I'd have to think a lot harder! Can't live without them.

I responded:
You only get one choice, not two! Your money or your spouse have to go.

His answer:
Take away the money! We'll all share the dog food I guess.

That's a man who can think on his feet. And eat dog food, apparently.

Okay, here's the last response for today (one more post tomorrow). It's a gut punch, too.
Without a doubt, if you desire a more fulfilling life you will go with children or spouse.

I was widowed at the age of 32. My wife died from cancer and I was left with a 2 year old daughter to raise on my own. She's now 31 years of age--and never been in prison--so I think I did ok. After about 6 years or so of focusing on my daughter, I started dating and eventually re-married. I learned the hard way that stepmothers and daughters don't always get along, and I finally had to end the marriage to protect my daughter. Years later I married again, and our time together was full of travel and memorable times as my daughter was grown. Unfortunately, she also developed cancer and died a couple of years ago.

It may sound like a lot of sad times, but there has been a wealth of experience, knowledge, wisdom, and philosophy that money could never buy. 

More tomorrow.

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