Marriage Advice from the Life of Coco Chanel

When Coco Chanel proudly declared that she never wished to “weigh more heavily on a man than a bird,” one has to wonder what brought her to this position.

Is there a bit of marriage advice hidden somewhere in this oblique statement, or did Chanel’s views actually sabotage her own chances for marital bliss?

If she were, in fact, discussing the issue of dependence within the marriage relationship, she was certainly challenging the norms of her generation.

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel was born in 1883 and later abandoned to a lonely existence in an orphanage when her mother died. She was just 12. The idea of marriage and children became a desperate passion, but one that she would never enjoy. Instead, she would become romantically involved with, among others, a Russian duke, an English duke, a Nazi officer and an English industrialist.

In each case, marriage eluded her. Wealth, however, was another story. At her death, her French fashion line was earning $160 million annually. Is it possible that Chanel’s determination to protect herself and her independence became the very thing that denied her a wedding?

If there is any marriage advice in this, it may be that being married is much more than a sharing of assets. Satisfying, long-term relationships are rarely split exactly down the middle when it comes to strengths, weaknesses and bank accounts. The very need to assert one’s independence can be a harbinger of problems to come.

On the other hand, today’s men are less threatened by independent women of financial means. Sixty percent expect that their wives will help earn the family income and are not threatened by having spouses with higher paychecks. Honest communication about expectations is important marriage advice.

Coco Chanel traded marriage for wealth. Today’s women have more freedom to enjoy both.

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Steve Douglas

Steve Douglas

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