The topic of how young Nigerians navigate romantic relationships with their earnings is a minefield of hot takes. In Love Currency, we get into what relationships across income brackets look like in different Nigerian cities.
Obi* is a 28-year-old product manager living in Berlin while his wife is in Lagos. In this week’s Love Currency, he talks about landing a first date because she thought he was someone else, proposing while surrounded by their favourite foods and choosing to work in Germany because of her.
Occupation and location
Product manager living in Berlin, Germany.
My take-home salary is about $4k after tax.
Monthly and recurring relationship expenses
First date: ₦30k at a restaurant in VI
Her birthday (2021): ₦10 – 20k restaurant date and ₦200k cash gift
Her birthday (2022): $1k cash gift
Wedding ring: ₦500k
Business loans: Nothing over ₦1m
Miscellaneous: the occasional ₦100 – 200k
How did you meet your wife?
I was scrolling through Instagram in January 2021 when I came across a reel of her redesigning a space; she’s an interior designer. I enjoyed watching videos of her work, and she was also pretty. So I followed her and started sending responses to her stories — a clapping emoji here, heart eyes there.
A few weeks later, I slid into her DMs to ask her name since it wasn’t on the page. She told me, I asked if we could grab lunch together, and we started discussing arrangements. At some point, she confessed that she only agreed because she’d mistaken my DM for someone else she’d been talking to on Instagram.
Did the date still happen?
Yes. We’d gone far into the planning, so why not? We agreed to have dinner at a restaurant in VI. We ended up talking through the night till the restaurant told us they wanted to close. Our food even ran cold. We’d ordered lamb, some seafood and drinks — everything cost around ₦30k.
I lived in Abuja at the time and was supposed to returnthe next day but postponed it because I wanted to see her again.
Yes, a few days later, she told me about a meeting near my house, and I asked her to meet me at a restaurant afterwards. We talked and played the “36 questions to fall in love” game, which left us feeling emotionally vulnerable. It was late, and the restaurant was closing, so we decided to walk the short distance back to my place.
When we got there, she sat on my table because she didn’t like my couch. After trying unsuccessfully to get a ride, she decided to spend the night but insisted on staying in the living room. I brought out a mat I had, and she offered her password for us to watch Netflix movies. At some point, I tried to cuddle and kiss her, but she quickly shot that down, and we went back to watching movies till we fell asleep. After she left, we started talking regularly on WhatsApp, and she even visited me in Abuja.
How did that happen?
Towards the end of March 2021, she said she wished I was in Lagos to celebrate my birthday in April together. So I got her a ticket to Abuja which cost ₦20k – 30k, but Lagos traffic happened, and she missed the flight. The only other available flight that day was about ₦70k, and we both agreed it was a lot of money. I gave up on seeing her, but later that day, she showed up at my door to surprise me. She’d paid the remaining ₦40k for the ticket. That was the best part of my birthday that year.
How was her stay in Abuja?
She stayed just over a week, and we went out two times; one was to a friend’s birthday party. The other times we left the house were when she accompanied me to the coffee shop I worked from or on our regular evening walks around my estate.
She prefers to cook her food or order online rather than eat out. She also doesn’t drink or enjoy the nightlife, so getting her to leave the house is always a struggle. I thought this was a good time to ask her to date me, but this babe said no.
I can’t remember her reason, but I figured it was because I was younger by a year. She went back to Lagos, and things went back to normal until I decided to move back to Lagos.
Sir, what about your job?
I was working remotely for an international agency that paid $7,500 – $8k a month, so I could afford to move around.
I got to Lagos, and we went back to normal. She’d visit my place, and sometimes, I’d visit hers. During one of her weekend visits in June 2021, she saw me swiping on Bumble, and her countenance changed. We tried to talk about it because I didn’t understand why she was mad, and she said it was disrespectful. After she left, we didn’t talk for a whole week, but she reached out saying she was ready for a relationship.
What was it like being in a relationship with her?
Not much changed. We tried to go out more, but she’d either look bored or talk about the decor. Sometimes, we’d even have to find an excuse to leave the restaurant after realising we didn’t like their menu.
We spent most of our time indoors at each other’s houses, talking and watching movies.
What about special occasions?
We planned to go out for her birthday in September 2021, but the traffic was ridiculous. So we walked to a restaurant near her house and ate the best swallow. It was on the mainland, so it wasn’t expensive — like ₦10 – 20k. I also sent her ₦200k as her gift.
Do you gift each other regularly?
We buy things for each other sometimes, but we usually send money. For instance, for Christmas 2021, I got her shoes, sneakers, a leather bag and necklace. For her birthday the following year, I sent her $1k. Other times, I give her my card to pay for stuff, or send her the occasional ₦100k – ₦200k when she wants something.
What does she give you?
She got me a cake, small chops and food from our favourite restaurants for my 2022 birthday. It’s hard to keep track, but sometimes, I could say I’m low on cash, and she’d send me ₦50k – ₦100k. She also made me a native and co-ord wear once.
At what point did you decide to japa?
After my contract with the foreign company ended, I started looking for something long-term. I was also thinking about the 2023 election. After the trauma of the #EndSARS protests, I didn’t want to be around for this election.
She mentioned once that she’d learnt German during her NYSC, so I decided to look for job opportunities there. I applied to two places and got a job offer from one of them a few days later. This was in May, and because we’d already met each other’s families, and I wanted her to go with me, I decided to propose.
How did that go?
I struggled to find the perfect ring. Over time, I asked her questions so I could figure out the particular ring she wanted. I contacted someone in Abuja who made custom rings, and he made one for ₦500k. It was supposed to be delivered on Friday, but it didn’t come till Saturday morning, and she wanted to go back home later that same day.
I quickly ordered food from all our favourite places to keep her from leaving. And as we sat gisting, surrounded by small chops, rice and abacha, I asked her, “Baby, do you wanna do life?”
We had our court wedding in August 2022, and I travelled in September.
How has the long-distance marriage been?
We talk multiple times every day. I also hoped to be back in Nigeria in March, 2023, but the election didn’t go as planned, so we’re back to preparing for her to join me.
Do you have conversations about money?
Yes. Sometimes, I lend her money for her decor business, nothing over ₦1m at once. And she keeps track of everything without me having to ask. She even makes me specify if it’s a loan or a gift whenever I send her money.
Do you have a financial safety net?
I have over $50k in stocks, cryptocurrency and USD savings.
What’s your ideal financial future as a couple?
I want a mixture of investments and business that’ll bring in residual income. I want to work because I want to, not because I need to. My wife wants to get to a point where she can focus on interior design and make money for the year without adding furniture making.
If you’re interested in talking about how money moves in your relationship, this is a good place to start.