April 21, 2024
Finance

Warren Buffett on finding a lasting marriage


Warren Buffett is acclaimed for his financial savvy—and his success as a self-made billionaire. 

Those wishing to emulate the 93-year-old businessman, investor, and philanthropist should pay close attention to the person they marry. 

Buffett said during a 2017 conversation with Bill Gates that he credits his choice of spouse with making him successful.

“You want to associate with people who are the kind of person you’d like to be. You’ll move in that direction,” Buffett said. “And the most important person by far in that respect is your spouse. I can’t overemphasize how important that is.”


And his key to finding the right person to marry has little to do with beauty, character, or a sense of humor. 

“If you want a marriage to last, look for someone with low expectations,” Buffett told Fortune at the 2015 Most Powerful Women Summit

Buffett, the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is the eighth-richest person in the world and is worth about $132 billion, according to Bloomberg. He married Susan Buffett in 1952 and had three children with her: Susie, Howard, and Peter. Susan died in 2004 at the age of 72 after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. 

Two years following Susan’s death, Buffett married Astrid Menks, who had been longtime friends with the Buffetts. Oddly enough, all three were very close friends when Susan was still alive, and they even sent out Christmas Cards signed “Warren, Susie, and Astrid,” according to Roger Lowenstein’s 2008 book Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist. 

“Warren was emotionally captivated by Susan who was at once his ideological mentor, his sexual goddess, his gateway to social acceptance, and his therapist, who Warren would later say pulled out ‘every one’ of the claws that his conservative mother had left in him,” columnist Jerry Bowyer wrote in 2012 Forbes opinion piece. “She got money and an extraordinary amount of ‘freedom’ for a married woman.”

Even with a somewhat unconventional marital history, Buffett has shared love-related wisdom over the years.

Below are three tips he’s given about love.

Marry the right person

In HBO’s 2017 documentary, “Becoming Warren Buffett,” the investment legend said that he had “two turning points” in his life: the first was when he came out of the womb and the second was when he met Susan. 

“What happened with me would not have happened without her,” Buffett said. 

Buffett also emphasizes marrying the “right person,” which he found in Susan. 

“Marry the right person. I’m serious about that,” he said during a 2009 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. “It will make more difference in your life. It will change your aspirations, all kinds of things.”

Aim for a lasting marriage—not a happy one

Going against the saying of “happy wife, happy life,” Buffett approaches both personal and professional relationships with low expectations. 

“If you’re going to get married and you want a marriage that’s going to last,” he said during a university lecture. “What quality do you look for in a spouse? One quality. Do you look for brains? Do you look for humor? Do you look for character? Do you look for beauty?”

“No,” Buffett said. “Not necessarily the happiest marriage—or one that Martha Stewart will talk about. You want a marriage that is going to last.”

Marriage before money

Even with greater fortune than nearly everyone else in the world, Buffett said that money isn’t the best thing he’s ever received.

“Being given unconditional love is the greatest benefit you can ever get,” he told MBA students in a 2008 talk

That unconditional love from his wife Susan is what kept him motivated.

“The incredible thing about love is that you can’t get rid of it,” he said during the 2008 talk. “If you try to give it away, you end up with twice as much, but if you try to hold onto it, it disappears. It is an extraordinary situation, where the people who just absolutely push it out, get it back tenfold.”

And while money can buy a lot of things—it’s true it can’t buy love. 

“The problem with love is that it’s not for sale,” Buffett told University of Georgia students in 2001. “The only way to get love is to be lovable. It’s very irritating if you have a lot of money. You’d like to think you could write a check: I’ll buy a million dollars’ worth of love. But it doesn’t work that way. The more you give love away, the more you get.”



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