“…NaijaHusband, I have to know all your bank account details in case anything ever happens to you and your in-laws try to push me out of our home but fail to succeed because I had the correct information about your finances and was able to reach the bank first and put a stop to their misdeeds and they won’t be able to kick any of our children out of the home and force them to become housegirls in the city where they will be molested by old men nor make me shave my head and live in a hut and have to turn to my local “fellow widows” NGO for help where they’ll give me a micro credit loan to sell bread and oranges on the street but then someone will steal my oranges and I’ll be forced to sell my body anyway….”
Most of my wife’s financial motivations in life are, strangely enough, motivated by Nollywood. So like a true Nollywood film, this post will have a part 2.
We thought Too Much Book would be controversial, but a recent twitter discussion on finances showed us that nothing gets people more riled up than money. Mention finances and suddenly bullets and stones start flying…no wonder it’s the number one cause of divorce.
Reading through most of the responses we received on twitter when we divulged what our financial system was, it occurred to me that most of the beliefs many of us carry, are affected by the culture and background we come from.
If you come from an environment where your mother always told you “Eh?! Spend money on a man keh?! IDIOOOOOT! He will spend your money on other women! Such a man is not a man! He is an infidel!” Then even the thought of sharing your bank account number with the man you marry will make you break out with kraw-kraw rashes.
Or maybe you were raised to think that women are “objects to be spoiled and petted” by their husbands and a man’s sole purpose in life is to spend money on women, acquiring women, and maintaining his numerous women. What do you care if he’s a philanderer? As long as he “takes care of you”, you can’t be bothered. Your top priority then, when looking for a husband, would be the size of his wallet.
On the other end of the extreme spectrum, you might be a man who was raised to think that all women were born to do is eat a man’s money, and that you had to be wary of any woman who wants to know what you earn, or what you do with your money…even if that woman is your wife.
NaijaWife once told me about a dead beat ex-boyfriend who, even though he had a well paying job and she was (as usual) a broke student, would insist that he’d forgotten his money at home, and make her pay for dates, or claim that he “would have bought her a Birthday/Anniversary/Xmas present if not for the fact that his uncle who was flying in from America had forgotten to purchase the gift on time and so would she be willing to wait until next year?” (Yes. he actually said that. Luckily NaijaWife was too smart for that!)
Point is, experiences affect the way we think. We all (both men and women) marry based on potential and reality. Is he earning money? Will he continue to earn money? Is she educated? Is she going to cling on my neck like a ball and chain all her life? Will her parents hook me up with shares in their oil bloc? Yet, no matter the current answers to these questions we ask, our credit crisis generation has seen that banks will crash, markets will fail, pipelines will burst and university drop outs will create billion dollar start ups. There are just no guarantees in this world we live in. The best we can do is exercise wisdom before we jump into a life time of marriage, while understanding that the future is still uncertain.
Let’s rewind back a few years to before NaijaWife and I got married.
We’d gradually become a more serious couple and were having one of our “necessary” talks (or so she called them) on the future, when one night, during dinner, NaijaWife suddenly leaned over to me and asked:
“How much do you make?”
Swallowing my last bit of food down as slowly as possible, I pretended I hadn’t heard.
So she repeated the question.
“Why do you want to know?” I asked. Like a true Nigerian, responding to her question with a question.
“Well…why not? If we get married I’d have to know anyway right? We might as well start practicing being open with each other.”
This was a tough pill to swallow. Like any human, I find it difficult to trust someone with vital information about me. What if she considered my salary to be too low? Or worse, too high? What if we broke up on the way to the altar and she carried the information about my salary to her friends in spite?
Ignoring the panic on my face, she went on. “Either way… I want you to know that I’m in debt.”
“Debt?” I asked. “How much…?”
Then she whispered the figure to me.
I choked on my drink… and decided to cut dinner short.
What happened next? Watch out for Part II…!