Marriage is an institution held in great importance in young people’s lives in War and Peace. The act of choosing a spouse is, however, very delicate, and we often see marriages occur between not the most perfect of matches. The formation of the aristocratic family is a process based largely on potential acquired wealth.
Natasha, as an elite without wealth, must make sure her husband is moneyed because she does not have wealth to inherit from her family. Borís faces the same constriction with his prospective matches. Although Natasha and Borís love each other they cannot overcome the fact that if they married they would suffer financially; this is their deal breaker. Pierre, on the other hand, is largely undesirable until he inherits his wealth. Then, he has opportunity to construct his family to include the most beautiful and desirable woman in Russia—Hélène—due to her desire of wealth, similarly to Natasha or Borís. But because of this importance of the superficial, Pierre’s marriage is cold and unhappy.
Overall, families in the Russian aristocracy formed like business relationships; partners were more desirable when they came with wealth. The already wealthy sought partners who were, instead of having money, the most charming or beautiful. Aristocratic families were largely formed because of a desire for money, but the superficiality of this desire resulted in doomed relationships for many.