Being in any type of cross-class relationship can feel messy. It provides opportunities to learn, as well as challenges our beliefs around wealth, class, and privilege. Sometimes we feel we don’t have the language to talk about class, because the message of “don’t talk about money, especially with people who have less money than you” is so prevalent. But teasing out these conversations and having them openly can be an incredibly rewarding and powerful process in creating an equitable relationship and social change.
When romance turns to partnership (whether husband, wife, partner, sweetie, spouse or whatever you call it), partners of young people with wealth raised poor, working or middle class (ie. “Partners”) are often on a fast track to living lives of privilege and wealth. Partners may not have access or control now, but no matter what their bank account statement reads, they likely increasingly have access to the privilege and resources of wealth. Partners of young people with wealth are crossing class lines in ways that can be emotionally, relationally, practically, and politically overwhelming. Resource Generation believes supporting partners during this transition is a vital part of its work.
At Resource Generation, we cannot claim to make anyone’s intimate, cross-class relationships easier. But we know it takes everyone’s perspective, experiences, resources and creativity to make change, and so we are committed to organizing, supporting, and connecting partners of young people with wealth to each other and helpful resources.
WHY RESOURCE GENERATION IS FOR PARTNERS OF YOUNG PEOPLE WITH WEALTH, TOO:
- Community in the midst of a class transition: There are so many questions that come up within a dramatically upward class transition, and it can be a deeply isolating experience. Partners of young people with wealth need each other to talk and identify with so that we can problem-solve, and mull through the contradictions together.
- Learning financial tools and skills: Within the United States we do not have a culture of teaching literacy, planning skills or tools. Additionally, it can be an emotional and cognitive challenging to claim the economic tools that have been kept strategically inaccessible to us and our loved ones. But facing what we don’t know and learning these skills can empower us to change this system.
- Sharing our knowledge of how the class system works: In a world where people with wealth are expected to dominate the knowledge about how the class system works, RG partners actually hold that knowledge from first-hand, embodied, direct experience. We are some of the experts! And this knowledge can be powerful for both other partners and young people with wealth in creating the world we want to live in.
- Learning how to use economic privilege is a skill that can be built: Leveraging economic privilege is a skill that is built over time and with practice. For folks from poor, working and middle class backgrounds, using the tools of economic privilege is like learning a new language, complete with new expressions, vocabulary, gestures and social graces. As partners, we are very aware of how powerful that “new language” is, and the impact that using it wisely can have on our families, communities, organizations and movements. When we practice talking about the impact of class on our lives, we help to open up important conversations that shed light onto that invisible structure. Partners, as straddlers between classes, can be messengers and validators of the shared human experience that exists beyond our socially constructed class system.
HERE ARE SOME RESOURCES FROM RG AND BEYOND…
Partners of young person with wealth can connect to Sarah Abbott in order to:
- Connect with another Partner to have a 1-on-1 phone conversation
- Explore if there are any Partner-Praxis groups in your area (currently there are Partner-Praxis groups in the Raleigh-Durham NC area, the Bay Area, and New York CIty)
- RG Blog Post about cross-class relationships: Why RG Organizes Partners of Young Poeple with Wealth? (and some of the reasons it’s awesome for rich kids like me). Oct 18th, 2012.
- RG Blog Post about cross-class romantic relationships: Becoming Wealthy: Cross-class relationships, RG and my experience straddling the class divide. Oct 16th, 2012.
- Partner Stories: A new tumblr. May 27th, 2014. Discusses a new private tumblr site just for partners.
- Marrying Up: How getting married forced me to face my class privilege. By Liz Sullivan. Feb 2014. On the Blog, A Practical Wedding.
- 2012 Maketplace Report, featuring RG members: Happily Ever After in a Cross-Class Marriage
- From Resource Generation’s Donor Organizing Institute: Class Background Inventory
- From Classism.org: Cross Class Resources
- Back Issues of More Than Money Magazine
- Money and Couples
- Cross-Class Relationships
- New York Times Article, 2005: “A Marriage of Unequals”
- Family Philanthropy Glossary
- Couples and Money: A Couples Guide by Victoria F. Collins
- Money Changes Everything: Twenty-Two Writers Break the Final Taboo — How money transforms families, test marriages, destroy friendships, and sometimes manages to make people happy by Jenny Offill and Elissa Schappell
- The Soul of Money: Transforming your Relationships with Money and Life by Lynne Twist
- Out of the Class Closet: Lesbians Speak edited by Julia Penelope