In a recent post, I advised single women to not date underearners because they might want to become stay at home moms, and that is simply not possible when you're married to an underearner.
I stand by the advice that I gave, but if you are forced to choose between character and earnings, I would choose character every time.
A good salary is worth a good salary. A good name is worth so much more.
As Proverbs 22:1 states, "A good name is more desirable than great riches. To be esteemed is better than silver or gold."
Good Character is more valuable than money
Relationships of all kinds require a foundation of trust. In real relationships (not the kind we have with celebrities or politicians), trust comes from the knowledge that a person consistently acts in a way that works towards your good and not your ill.
It means that a person will listen but not gossip.
It means a friend will share a hard word with you rather than let you suffer from your own bad character.
It means you can call someone up in the middle of the night and know that they will cry with you over the phone, or that they'll share your joyful elation at some great news.
A person who keeps their word consistently, who puts the needs of others above their own needs, who shows wisdom and generosity is not an easy person to find. Yet these are the very characteristics that make relationships so valuable. Our human need for relationships is so strong that I have a hard time separating it from the need for food, water and shelter.
In modern society, food, water and shelter are relatively easy to obtain, but finding a friend (or a life partner) with good character can be exceedingly difficult.
Investing in good character compounds (especially in bad circumstances)
The interesting thing about good character is that it's most valuable when times are bad. When times are bad, money tends to be scarce. Physical resources might be hard to come by, but good character sticks with a person.
The value of great relationships in times of adversity can't be overstated, and the value of a trustworthy friends is worth so much more when circumstances seem dire than when they seem amazing.
Proverbs 17:17 says, "A Friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."
Imagine how valuable it is to be married to someone you call your friend. How amazingly intimate and valuable bond is when you go through adversity together.
Like any great characteristic, people are not born with excellent character, nor can it be developed overnight. Instead they develop through practice, through trials that come their way, and through sticking with others through tough circumstances.
A person with good character might not be able to earn a lot of money (though they could), they might not be able to solve your problems, but they will stick by you until the end. It's hard to put a price tag on that.
The value of good character exceeds all riches
In fact, good character is so valuable, that I don't put a price tag on it.
I think that the single biggest factor in my marriage's success isn't our budget, or our willingness to compromise, or our ability to communicate. Instead, I'll give the prize to Rob for his excellent character.
So if you're going to ignore my advice about the money thing...
At least date a man with excellent character. It's worth more than a great salary anyhow.
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.