Navigating life as a woman in the world today is incredibly difficult. From Nigeria to Timbuktu, it’ll amaze you how similar all our experiences are.
Every Wednesday, women the world over will share their takes on everything from sex to politics right here.
The woman in today’s What She Said is in her early 50s. She talks about her husband excluding her from all financial planning and how she has had to find out about several of his projects through friends and strangers.
Describe you and your partner’s financial planning situation in one word.
Insulting. My husband and I got married when I got pregnant for him at 23; he was around 36. That’s a 13-year age difference. He has always seen me as a child, right from day one.
He doesn’t hesitate to remind me that he is older and thus wiser, making remarks like, “I have been touching money since before you were born.” Back then, it really hurt, but I have since grown a much thicker skin. I just ignore him for my own peace.
What was the financial planning like in the very beginning?
As a naive young girl, I would collect my salary and keep on top of the wardrobe for both of us to take and sort things out in the house, while he would hoard his salary and sometimes not even tell me when he receives it. I didn’t think too much about it until a particular incident opened my eyes.
I was 7 months pregnant with my eldest when I took about N3,980 from my savings and went to the market with my cousin to buy a bed for us. The one we had at the time was nothing to write home about.
About 3 days later, I took N50 from my husband’s pocket to make my hair. When he came back from work, he asked if I had touched his money. When I told him that I had, he flared up.
He started shouting that in my life I should never touch his money without telling him. My cousin was around when this happened. He was so shocked that my husband was acting this way because of N50.
When my husband went to see him off, I started packing the little things I had. My intention was to leave him. I think my cousin spoke some sense into him because he came back begging. I keep saying that if I had left the house that day, I would have left the marriage for good.
Did things get better after that?
No. My husband would make big financial decisions without consulting me. One time, he took leave from work and went to his village with our 2 children and laid the foundation for his house. It was someone in the village that called to congratulate me. I was just listening like a dunce because I was not aware of anything.
Did you confront him?
My dear, the beginning of my marriage was full of confrontations. When he got back, I asked about the project and questioned why he didn’t say anything to me.
To prove a point to him, I took out N100k from my savings — this was in the early 2000s — and gave him to add to whatever he had for the building. He was so shocked and somewhat ashamed that he wept.
Was there a change afterwards?
For a while, yes, but it was short-lived. My husband has serious trust issues when it comes to money and me. Sometimes, I would be in the room and he would run inside like someone being pursued only to take out money from his pocket and go into the living room. I just laugh it off because I am tired of crying.
So how have you both managed to run your home?
I do what I can for the house and he does what he can. It’s not a joint thing. One thing I am grateful for is that he is actually financially responsible. He takes care of what needs to be taken care of. He never joked with our children’s needs at all.
The problem just happens to be a “me” thing. I don’t know his bank account password or how much he has. As a wife, I know nothing about his financial life.
It was only recently, when he had a near-death experience, that he took me to different sites to show me his land. I was so shocked that he had property and waited until he nearly died to show them to me.
I am supposed to be his wife, why am I the last to find out about thing like this? Am I a stranger? It looks ridiculous when you live with a man and call him your husband, but you don’t know anything about his finances. I am very open with mine, why can’t he do the same thing?
Have you considered leaving him?
Of course. Several times I would have left him for real last year because of this disclosure issue. Can you imagine my husband collected his pension and didn’t tell me?
Prior to me discovering this deceit, I have been taking care of everything in the house with my salary. He just retired and I had to shoulder most of our expenses. I kept encouraging him to hold on, hoping that when he gets paid, he will lighten my burden.
This man collected his pension and didn’t tell me for three months until I accidentally found out from a friend. I was so furious. For me, this was the height of wickedness. I had to force myself to calm down so I don’t end up killing him.
Ah, Ma, please oh.
Yes. A man who will look at you and see you as less can actually kill you, but I kept thinking about my children. What will people say? My husband is someone everyone considers to be good.
No one will meet him and think ill of him. Why do others get to see that part of him and he rarely shows that side to me? I don’t dispute the fact that he is a good man or a great father, but in the husband category, he falls short. I feel so alone in this marriage.
Are your children aware?
They only know what we tell them. I am trying to shield them from this aspect of their father. They are mostly grown now and are doing very well for themselves. I want them to be happy, knowing who their father truly is will cause them to worry. I have since discovered that this is my cross and I will bear it alone.
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