The class divide in America is only becoming wider and wider in this country, and now it’s having its affect on marriage. When we typically talk about marriage between two different people we think of age difference or race, but it turns out marrying outside of your class also has lasting effects on the relationship. Jessi Streib, author of “The Power of the Past” and a sociology professor at Duke University, really dived into this phenomenon.
“We are living in a time where the classes are coming apart. Geographically, we’re living farther and farther away from people of different classes. Socially, we’re becoming more different from people of other classes, and economically, the earnings gap between the classes is increasing,” explains Streib to Vox.
So what happens when two people from two different backgrounds fall in love? Streib followed a few people who came from blue-collar backgrounds and became white-collar professionals who then married a white-collar professional. She then noticed differences between the two would bubble up. Here are four things Streib listed that happen in these relationships:
1. The two spouses end up having different ways of going about things.
The white-collar spouse tries to manage things while the spouse with the blue-collar background goes with the flow.
2. The spouse who came from a blue-collar background expresses emotions more.
This also stems from white-collar managing things more. This also has to do with their emotions so they tend to think about things more before saying them, while the spouse with the blue-collar background is more likely to say things on the spot.
3. Discussions about one spouse’s privilege might be brought up.
Streib found one couple where the man came from a blue-collar family. He would usually remind his wife how he had to start working at 14 and how easy she has had it. He would say that she needs to work hard and he can retire early to even things out. She found this to be unfair.
4. They take certain traits from each other.
The learning goes both ways. Streib explains that many middle class families spend more time doing activities, while blue-collar families tend to stay at home and spend time together. The white-collar spouse might learn from this. The blue-collar spouse might learn from the other spouse how to have a secure, stable life that is usually found in the middle class.
However, she also mentions that their differences usually make the prospect attractive.
“The way we grow up, we grow up with a lot in common with people of our classes because we grow up in similar environments of people in a same class. And when we don’t like something about our own class background, we want somebody who has the opposite experience,” explains Streib.