Jessi Streib had written an opinion piece for the Washington Post’s website on 26 March 2015, entitled For richer or poorer: The challenges of marrying outside your class.
Professor Streib has an impressive CV that shows she had spent at least 11 years in university to conclusively obtain her Ph. D in Sociology, a subject she’s so passionate about that she now lectures on it at Duke University as an Assistant Professor. Her stellar research centres around social class inequalities, particularly in romantic relationships, the effects on children, and the differences and mixing of cultures. Her publication The Power of the Past: Understanding Cross-Class Marriages has been successfully published on 3 February 2015.
Having established Professor Streib’s expertise, the opinions article make for a nice read. If you can’t stomach the highly manageable 1200-word piece, Streib mentions a handful of couples (under pseudonyms) that are considered ‘inter-classed.’ I’ll attempt to (further) summarise the article.
Madison grew up being bullied for her ‘shabby’ upbringing, where her family barely (sometimes, not even) got by. Evan grew up middle-class, and he hated how much Madison spent on home ‘improvements’ to recreate a home in which he grew up.
Danielle dropped out of high school and moved 17 times over six years. She attempted to keep her head above water through countlessly applying for welfare; however, she hated to budget and thinking long-term with money. Jim was raised in a mansion, attended a prestigious university and grew up with a financial safety net. The two butt heads constantly between spending or saving money.
Gina, growing up in a working-class family, believes her two toddler children should play freely at home during leisure time. Scott, growing up in middle-class, believe they should enrol in Chinese lessons and pottery class.
Anneka, growing up middle-class, was taught that ‘reactions should be intellectualized, not expressed in emotional tones.’ William, growing up working-class, was taught to express himself freely, that feelings must be shared. To deal with the differences, they instinctively find middle-ground.
Lori grew up with three homes and a yacht. Jason, growing up working-class, was raised in a family that had to save up for home upgrades. Living in a large house, Jason constantly feels he doesn’t belong and neglects household maintenance.
Streib states that the differences between two people are what brings them together. In a way, Streib says that opposites attract because of the attraction of the change. She concludes that opportunities for inter-class dating is declining due to economic segregation. But she’s hopeful, finalising with:
Love Can Cross Class Lines
We see the class division often than not. It’s really too classic when it comes to entertainment.
You see it in fiction, such as in Harry Potter, between Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. Hermione’s an only child of two muggle dentists and highly intellectual. Ron’s one of seven children to (somewhat poor) wizarding parents (house-mother and government worker) and barely an average student.
The idea of Upstairs, Downstairs in entertainment has always been there, showing the audience the difference between classes and showing them intermingling, even if not in a romantic way. However, a great portrayal of a romantic inter-couple would be in Titanic. The uptight, upper-class Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) falls in love with the carefree, third-class Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) to the dismay of her mother and fiancee-hopeful.
It even stretches over to television, like in Everybody Loves Raymond. Debra was raised in an upper-class (and somewhat paternally neglectful) family, resulting in an uptight, usually moody and independent personality. Being the son of Frank and Marie, Raymond grew up a mother’s boy, selfish and carefree.
Honestly, there’s so many ‘opposites attract’ couples in entertainment, perhaps because it always leads to good conflict and tension between characters. We love to read and watch these interactions in fiction, but is it real? Could an inter-class couple survive? And if so, is it like those that we see on our screens?
My Life & Opinion
Firstly, let me briefly mention my family’s history in the terms of ‘class.’
In the 1980s, my family grew up in a 2-bedroom, 1 bath ranch-styled home that faced a busy street on the jank side of town. My mother’s family lived near us and visited often. We never struggled to the point of not paying bills, but on my parents’ wages, often times bread and milk were meals.
In the 1990s, we upgraded to a 3-bedroom, 1 bath ranch-styled home, still in the jank side of town but a corner lot to a court. My father had been promoted to cook at a chain restaurant and was able to obtain certain goods for the family (dinnerware, food, furniture). My mother stayed home weekends to take us to garage sales, to the free matinée movies and to teach us Tae Kwon Do.
Around 1998, we moved into a 5-bedroom, 3.5 bath home with 3 levels. Currently, my parents have retired from their previous jobs and now own their own real estate business (my mother handles the books, my father does maintenance).
Which class do I fall under? My family started off very working-class, but now we’re middle-class? My siblings tell me that I had it good growing up, because when I came to be in 1989, we were able to afford McDonald’s Happy Meals. Now, my mother doesn’t blink an eye when purchasing 5 iPhone 6 Plus’s.
When it comes to how you interact within a relationship, I guess it depends which portion of your life had the most overall effect on you in this situation. In my family overall, I think the mindset of the latter is more potent. In my family, every. single. relationship. has been opposites attract.
Beginning with my parents. My father grew up in the jungles of Vietnam, where he lived in a straw hut and was related to everyone (just find the elder to tell you how). He’s technically intelligent, loves to tell tall-tales and tight with money. My mother grew up in Saigon, where she went to Catholic schooling and her biggest concern was being ‘unattractively tan.’ She’s mathematically intelligent, sticks to logic and enjoys spending money.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, though. My oldest sister Dorothy loved dating military men, which is how she ended up marrying one. She’s lazy, loud, loves spending money and spends all her time on the internet. Her husband came from a poor family, very quiet, and not a friend of technology. He happily serves my sister hand and foot, whether it’s to get her dinner or to get her the remote on a nearby couch. When he’s not available, my sister has my 6-year-old nephew get things for her (she had him get her orange juice just yesterday).
My sister Blanche is no different. She’s a law-degree holding bitch that duck-faces every photo on her Instagram. She fell in love with a sub-par basketball player of an insignificant college that got a degree in bullshitting. He grew up very poor, and (since the divorce) has been living with his father, who happens to be rooming with his uncle and his grandmother (of which, only the grandmother works regularly).
But I don’t pretend that I have fallen far from the tree. Class-wise, I might not have strayed as far as my siblings; however, Perseus and I are far from similar. Even in physical attributes, we’re nearly opposites. I’m 5’10”, black hair, brown eyes with glasses, tanned skin and somewhat ‘big-boned.’ He’s maybe 5’8″, brown/blonde hair, blue/green clear eyes, white skin and can’t gain weight if he tried.
In education, Perseus stopped at the age of 16 (which is somewhat common for the UK if they find the right trade). I’ve gone 5 years of university to obtain two bachelors, and somewhat still debating if I should go back for my masters. My highest achievement was taking 25 credit hours and achieving 3.3 GPA for that semester.
In interests and hobbies, Perseus loves cars, the supernatural and video games (Call of Duty and Forza being favourites). He’s borderline anti-religious and loves to watch ‘football’ and rugby on television. His ideal night is staying at home and watching YouTube clips. I love Harry Potter, Netflixing and playing games on my iPhone. I’m a devout Catholic and loves to go to events, whether it be sporting events, concerts, festivals or whatever. My ideal night is being out with friends (and Perseus, if he was with me) and going to countless bars before ending the night at the Hookah Lounge.
In terms of family, Perseus grew up with his father and half-brother regularly working and his mother partially working. They are surrounded by both sides of the family, which is very extensive. He doesn’t live extravagantly, but familiarly in the sense that everybody in town knows who everyone is. It’s like living in The Shire.
In terms of the future, Perseus wants to live in the countryside with a farm with exotic pets and have our boys eat healthy, play masculine sports and share his interests. I want to live in the city with a dog and have our boys enjoy food (whatever it may be e.i. McDonald’s), be hyper-intelligent, do as many extracurriculars as possible, learn Vietnamese and become a devout Catholic.
If Streib’s research had studied homosexual couples, I think that her findings would be similar. Take, for example, RENT‘s lesbian couple of Joanne and Maureen. But as stated above, the tension and friction between two opposite persons makes for good entertainment.
Which is the case for Perseus and I. We fight (constantly) and it’s usually because we have differences in opinion, or think that the other wronged us more fatally than the other because of the way we were brought up. Perseus and I grew up MAYBE in different classes, or MAYBE we grew up in the same class in different countries or in different environments, but it doesn’t take away that we are almost total opposites each other.
But what’s good between Perseus and I are we’re ALMOST total opposites. The things we agree on are that we want children, that GENERALLY we don’t mind how we are financially and that we’re in our relationship for the long-haul. The things we share most in common is our humour, which I find crazy because you couldn’t find two people with more ridiculous humour than we have together. We also think that the homosexual community is a bit… much and we both wouldn’t be involved in it so much in the future. These are almost fundamental to our relationship that it keeps us together.
True, the arguments between Perseus and I become quite a spectacle but we honestly laugh about it afterwards because true, it’s a form of entertainment. We’ve blamed each other for starting arguments for the sake of entertainment before
, and sometimes it’s true.
And honestly, if I was going to run away at the first, or even the billionth fight Perseus and I
will have had, I wouldn’t be with him. I’m ready for the fight about sex, housework, how we’re raising our kids, going to church each weekend, our vacation times, our leisure times and the DREADFUL fight about finances because at the end of the day, Perseus and I love each other, and that’s all that really matters despite it all. I know Perseus and I know he has all these cute little ideas how he thinks he knows what he wants but…