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Are rich couples always miserable?

2011 August 10
by Zoe Strimpel

Could money be a romance-killer?

We have this fantasy, my friends and I, of marrying a very rich man who would “take care of all our problems”.

Then, seconds later, we slap our foreheads and say: “No! We will always depend on ourselves. We don’t want to depend on some man’s money.”

But I think what we’re talking about has little to do with gender. It’s about being rich without having to work for it. A husband is a convenient vehicle for this – if the lottery fails – and women don’t have the same issues about a richer partner as men do. Yet.

But I may have to revise the idea of the fantasy rich couple. Because it’s finally sunk in: rich couples look like they’re having a shit time together. They can be in the most beautiful place on earth, with all the luxuries their money can buy and they have nothing – but nothing – to say to each other. He looks uncomfortable, she looks peeved. Collectively they look incredibly bored. Nobody laughs. Ever.

This is fresh in my mind after a beautiful few days in Capri. For various reasons connected to my work, a friend and I wound up in the best (we like to think) hotel on that stunning isle of azure waters: Punta Tragara. As we lay by the pool, with stunning views of a superyacht-studded bay and the open sea, we were like pigs in mud. Sodas, sun, cigarettes (my friend’s, in the main). Books. But we didn’t get far with these (Mine: Theodor Herzl’s The Jewish State. Hers: James Joyce’s Ulysses. No wonder). We were too busy chatting, observing, giggling, swimming and asking for more Diet Coke.

But when we weren’t doing this, we were beadily looking at our companions. They were all couples.

The three we saw most, since they never left the hotel (we did – but whenever we returned to the pool, or partook of little cheese and honey stuffed pastries at breakfast, or ate dinner on the terrace, we saw them) were a young, hot-bodied  woman and an unattractive much older man (American); a hot-bodied Russian-Canadian girl with a strangely swollen face and a dark, Greekish looking English guy, and a skinny French girl of about 26 with a paunchy man of about 66. There were some kids in tow with these two.

The Americans didn’t say a word throughout dinner.

The swollen-faced girl and her hubby didn’t talk as they passed hour after hour by the pool. They listened to their ipods or stared at the ground. He never quite looked comfortable, she never looked happy. Least of all, did they look happy or comfortable together. The French couple had a more peaceful air, but still nothing to say to each other.

When we were in Naples airport en route home, we ran into the swollen-face girl and the Greeky boy. Did you have a nice time, we asked them of their holiday in one of the most beautiful spots on earth. “Yeah, it was ok,” he said with a blank expression. She echoed these strong sentiments. Nearly falling over the EasyJet luggage measuring bin with boredom, we parted ways from them and on the plane reflected that while they obviously had money, they didn’t seem to have much fun. But at least they had that in common.



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