Conversations about money are not exactly fun. And I imagine that it’s harder for couples to have these conversations although they are very important. I was musing about how people in relationships navigate this and manage their finances, so I spoke to five people about it.
Uche, 33, Male, Married
I’ve been married to my wife for a year, and it’s still hard to have conversations about money. I earn more — about $2000 every quarter — although my income at my research job is unstable. My wife grew up around money, but I’ve had to work for money all my life. She’s only just coming to terms now about how low her federal government job pays.
There are people who believe in managing their finances with their partners. My wife isn’t one of them. She’s always like “My money is my money but your money is our money.” I would love that too, but I can’t afford to live that way just yet. Besides, it doesn’t follow the principles of the egalitarian family we’re building.
Also, she has access to loans and I’d like us to deal with those first, even if it means cutting down on expenses. But my wife thinks living below a threshold is impossible. Deep down, I feel like she deserves a richer guy. Sadly, my priorities are not in maintaining any social status. This difference is fundamental to our financial disagreements, which are mostly heated arguments.
Things have been a little better since I decided that it’s better to let her spend her money the way she wants and I spend mine the way I want. I think there’s still a chance for us to find a middle ground. We’ve only been married for a year. Life will teach us.
Joy, 27, Female, In a relationship
I’m just starting out, and there’s only so much my ₦50k salary can do. My partner earns about ₦300k every month and she works on other projects. The commission she gets from these things run into millions of naira.
She’s generous to a fault. She could send me ₦200k out of the blue or randomly buy me a ₦50k perfume. This shouldn’t be a problem, but it is. I feel like I’m dependent on her, and it bruises my ego. It doesn’t help that I have to think of a gift to buy for her every month from my salary.
We fought and broke up a couple of times in the first six months of our relationship because of this. I couldn’t talk about the things I wanted without her assuming that I was using “style” to ask her to do them for me. I thought it was disrespectful that she would think that there was an undertone to half the things I said. But we always found our way back to each other after our breakups.
Things are much better now. She’s working on a personal project, and it’s sucking her resources. Don’t get me wrong: I want her to have money but I’m happy that she’s channelling her money into something that will benefit everyone in the long run. I give her moral support and help her make decisions about the project and we’ve never been happier.
However, I wish I could lower my shoulder pads and accept that it may be her love language. Most importantly, I wish to earn half as much as she does so that we can both spend money on each other.
Tunji, 37, Male, Married
I make between ₦400k-₦500k every month. My wife earns considerably less — about ₦80k. But it’s not a problem. I love taking care of the family’s financial responsibilities. I’ve been doing that since I was 18.
I don’t share bills with her or ask her questions about how she spends her money. Fortunately, we live in our own home, so rent is not a problem. I take care of the children’s bills and give her an upkeep every month. But I know that she augments what I give her from her purse.
Although she thinks I have millions locked away somewhere, we don’t argue about money a lot. This only happens when she spends money on unreasonable expenses like going over the budget for utilities or spending a lot of cash on children’s clothes that won’t fit in five months. I’m pretty respectful of money and the comfort it provides, so I’m uncomfortable and pissed when I think she’s not being careful with money.
My wife likes to go YOLO with her money, but I think it’s my duty to guide her and teach her how to manage her finances. I recently started teaching her how to save and invest. I’d like her to be more financially responsible. It’s a journey, and I think she’s making progress.
I love to provide for my family without necessarily asking my wife for help, but I won’t be raising my son that way. I’ll teach him to cut himself some slack and ask his partner for help if he needs to.
Adebola, 39, Male, Married
My wife is self-employed, so she doesn’t have a regular income. I place her on a monthly salary, which she gets when I get paid. Also, I stock the house with food and pay the monthly bills. I like her to spend what she makes on herself, and that’s why I take care of most of the bills. We agreed to this arrangement before we got married six years ago.
I try to be honest as much as possible about money with her. If I need to do something that will negatively affect my finances, I let her know. Our relationship is all about communication and understanding.
We have little disagreements about money from time to time, especially when she’s broke and has an urgent responsibility to meet. It’s not good all the time. However, we talk about it and reach an agreement.
Sometimes, I wish she has a good job and a regular stream of income so she can be in total control of her finances. This will actually make my life better too.
Tokunbo, 24, Male, In a relationship
My partner and I had different experiences of money growing up, and it affects the way we both manage our finances. I grew up with a silver spoon until my dad made some bad investments, and I had to adjust to a new reality. My girlfriend, on the other hand, grew up around market women, so she believes that you can always make what you spend, as long as you keep working.
I’m the planner in the relationship — I’m always thinking about how much we have to make before the end of the year and what we can afford to spend money on by that time. I also try to make her understand that we don’t need to spend money on what we don’t necessarily have to. She’s a nice person, and she likes to help people out a lot, so she’s prone to be taken advantage of.
She’s not a big fan of how calculative I am, but man, I hate not having money. However, she listens and understands where my heart is — we both do. It would be great if I could plan less and do more and if she could be less generous with money.
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