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They could decide whether to spend money to go on a vacation or to invest in private school. This difference—taking a hands-off approach or a hands-on one—followed individuals from their pasts and into their marriages.

It shaped nearly every aspect of their adult lives.

One couple I talked to experienced these differences profoundly.

Vicki grew up as the daughter of an upper-level manager while her husband John grew up the son of two factory workers.

Vicki also had her children’s lives planned before they were born – they would be good students and involved in many extra-curricular activities.

John believed he should meet his kids before deciding on how to parent them and that it was not his place to decide who they should become. ” and saying of John, “For him, it’s ‘It will always work out. Don’t worry.’”Most of the couples I spoke with found ways to work out these differences, and their lives were much more mundane than a movie would dramatize.

Vicki, a teacher, plotted how to become a superintendent.

Most couples maintained that their class differences were behind them after marriage, as they now shared a bank account, a home, and a life.

Yet, by analyzing how individuals talked about themselves, their partners, and their marriages, I discovered that this was far from the truth. It’s also about how the amount of money and material things we used to have shape the type of people we become.

Class had shaped each spouse so much that the people I interviewed had more in common with strangers who shared their class background than with their husbands and wives. People who grew up in households without much money, predictability, or power, learn strategies to deal with the unexpected events that crop up in their lives.

They did not know when a debt collector would call.

Thinking about money could not change the fact that it came in unpredictably and that sometimes there wasn’t enough.

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