American trophy wives are being replaced by women who work

Yep, it’s really called a “pussy-bow.”
Yep, it’s really called a “pussy-bow.”
Image: Reuters/Rick Wilking
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Melania, it’s time to restart your career, whether or not Donald wins the White House.

When the Slovenian-born dazzler became Donald Trump’s third spouse in 2005, she was the ultimate trophy wife.  A former model with cheekbones to the sky, she wore a $230,000 strapless Dior wedding gown that André Leon Talley, then an editor at Vogue, helped her pick out. She was, Talley said, “the most silky, well moisturized, meticulously groomed woman” he had ever known, according to Maureen Dowd’s Nov. 2, 2016 feature in the New York Times magazine. She famously devotes herself primarily to taking care of Donald and son Barron, while doing some work on jewelry design and a skin care line on the side.

How passé. These days, in families of really, really rich people, both spouses work full-time. According to research by the Spectrem group, which tracks attitudes and investment behaviors of Americans with net assets of more than $25 million aside from their home, the majority of these folks are dual-income earners. In 2016, both spouses worked in a whopping 55% of households. That’s up from 39% in 2012.

Power couples such as Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, the pediatrician Priscilla Chan, as well as Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer and her husband, lawyer Zachary Bogue, are just the most obvious examples of the trend. Highly educated men are increasingly marrying highly educated women and, together, they are creating a new wealthy class. This trend was identified more than a decade ago by sociologist Christine Whelan, in her 2006 book Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women; the income statistics are just catching up.

Spectrem also finds that the really rich are getting younger, perhaps because of all the money sloshing around in Silicon Valley. The mean age of the over-$25 million was 60 in 2012, 58 in 2013 and last year, it was just 52 years old. The average age of those with assets between $5 million and $25 million is 66.

Most of these folks also work; only 28% say they are retired. Among couples under 50 years old with over $25 million in net assets, both spouses work in 77% of households. This younger cohort also says that some of their wealth came from inheritance, “an indication that the wealth transfer from World War II and Baby Boomer investors has begun in earnest,” the report says.

And, just like Donald and Melania, they’re really happy. More than half of them say being rich is responsible for some of their happiness in life.