Would You Rather Have Love or Money?

by Leslie Morgan Steiner (Two Cents on Working Motherhood)

My kids play an enthralling game called Quick Pick. It goes like this: take two awful, completely exclusionary choices, and in three seconds pick one. The spark lies in instantaneous evaluation of two nasty and permanent life lines.

Such as:

Would you rather work smelling people's armpits for a deodorant company, or cleaning port-o-potties?

Would you rather kill your best friend or marry your worst enemy?

And the age-old: Would you rather be brilliant and ugly, or utterly stupid but beautiful?

A recent New York Times sidebar by Pamela Paul reminded me of this unpleasantly stimulating game. Research from Cornell University, captured in a new book "The Effect of Relative Income Disparity on Infidelity for Men and Women," indicates that men who are economically dependent on their female partners are more likely to cheat. The study, presented in August at the 105th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, looked at 18-28 year old heterosexuals married or co-habitating for at least one year. Men who were completely dependent upon a female partner's income were five times more likely to cheat. Men who far out earned their wives were ALSO far more likely to cheat (think Tiger Woods). The so-called "Safety Zone" where men are least likely to cheat comes when women earn about 75% of what their men do.

Now I don't know about you, but I've spent far more time and effort in my life educating myself, earning money, unraveling my self-destructive tendencies, and trying to improve my economic state than I have dissecting why men cheat. My first boyfriend, an absolutely lovely, brilliant, passionate guy who loved me dearly and found me sexually irresistible, was a serial cheater. Harsh news for a 15-year-old girl, but I took the lesson about male infidelity as precious as gold: some men cheat, others do not.

I prefer the latter.

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Leslie Morgan Steiner authors Two Cents on Working Motherhood on MommyTracked. She is the editor of the best-selling anthology Mommy Wars and the memoir Crazy Love. Steiner is a frequent guest on the Today Show, MSNBC, and regularly contributes to The New York Times, Newsweek and Vanity Fair. She lives with her husband and 3 kids in Washington, DC.