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.
Christabel* and Henry* fell in love after a year of working together for a social association. While Christabel is more prudent with money, Henry enjoys going all out for the people he loves. Now they live together as a married couple and tell Zikoko how their personalities complement and balance out each other.
What’s your most memorable date?
Christabel: Our second date. We went to a park to have a picnic and had the best time with each other. We talked, walked around and even did small PDA.
Henry: Mine was our getaway weekend in December 2021 — we used to have those once every few months when we were dating. For this one, we. stayed at a fancy hotel for three nights, went on a date at a restaurant, and even did a photoshoot.
Christabel: Ah, sorry. That’s my favourite date, too. He had a car pick us up and take us wherever we went. I was convinced he would propose that weekend because of how extra everything seemed.
But he didn’t?
Christabel: No, he didn’t.
Henry: I just wanted to make you feel special.
How long was your relationship at the time?
Henry: It was about nine months.
Back to the getaway. How much did it cost?
Henry: I can’t remember everything but the hotel was ₦100k per night. Our photoshoot was about ₦40k, and the dinner date cost ₦30k.
Christabel: Ah, ₦30k? On top of small burgers and chicken wings? He didn’t tell me how expensive this thing was, I’d have freaked out.
Henry: Clearly. But it wasn’t expensive because we had lamb chops and wine too.
Do I need to ask who is better with money?
Christabel: It’s definitely me. He likes to go all out for dates, but after we started dating, I made him put a ₦10k rule on every date. We’d only go on dates that would cost ₦10k per person, except on special occasions. He won’t admit it, but I know it helped.
Henry: You know what? I agree. She wasn’t a financial advisor for nothing.
Oh? Financial advisor?
Christabel: He was the president of the social group, and I was the financial advisor. That’s how we officially became friends, even though we knew each other in university.
Tell me about that
Christabel: He was a year ahead of me, and we attended the same fellowship. But I never liked him. He was one of those brothers in fellowship that girls used to flock to after service.
Henry: Haha. We met after we had both graduated, at a summit in 2018, exchanged pleasantries and went on our way. In 2019, we saw at another event, and later in the same year, we met at our reunion.
Christabel: He was voted in as the president, and I was the financial advisor. This time I asked for his number.
Christabel: We got close during the pandemic in 2020. But when I asked him out in July, he turned me down and said he wasn’t ready for a relationship. I took my L, but we remained friends. I’d call him whenever I needed help with some design or Excel.
In 2021, this oga sent me a cake with the inscription, “I love you”. When I called to ask him, he said it was platonic. I was talking to someone then, but that one didn’t send any gifts, so my family members already assumed Henry and I were dating.
When did the relationship move past platonic?
Henry: I invited her to my family house in 2021. I had promised to cook, but we ended up buying food at a restaurant instead. And when we got to the house to eat, I asked her if she’d like to be in a relationship with me.
What of the other guy?
Christabel: It wasn’t working out. And looking back, Henry had always stayed consistent in trying to know how things were between me and the guy. The whole time I didn’t know he was trying to displace him.
Fair. But what was it like working with your partner?
Christabel: For a whole year, nobody knew we were dating. Most people knew about us when we announced we were getting married in August 2022.
Was there a proposal?
Christabel: Yes! It happened in March 2022. We were supposed to go out, but his mum called me and asked me to come over. The plan was to go to her’s first then return home to change. If I knew what they’d planned, I’d have dressed hot — church girl with a pinch of Cardi B.
Hahaha, I feel you
Henry: The house was candlelit, and there was a screen with pictures of us from over the years.
Christabel: I tried to run, but he sat me down on the same couch we sat when he asked me out. This time, his question was if I’d marry him. I said yes. Then we had a small house party with our friends there.
Wedding plans kicked off almost immediately, and we got married in August 2022.
How was the wedding?
Christabel: There’s nothing like a small wedding. He had to tell me to cut down on some costs because the budget was already close to ₦6m- ₦7m. I’m usually the more frugal one, but I got carried away with the whole wedding. I was willing to pay ₦150k for my makeup for a white and traditional wedding each. But after I spoke to him, I realised it wasn’t just about me or that day, so I found an alternative that cost just ₦75k for both events.
Henry: We had a spreadsheet where we documented the different expenses and costs, so that helped us stay on track. In the end, we spent about ₦3.5m- ₦3.8m.
Christabel: It was our responsibility, but he handled most of the expenses. I contributed about ₦1.5m or so.
Fair. How do you handle expenses now?
Christabel: It’s pretty much the same thing. He mainly handles things that involve heavy spending, although I help sometimes. We try to reduce our day-to-day expenses by buying stuff like toiletries, body essentials and consumables in bulk once a month. Sometimes it’s as low as ₦30k; other times, it’s as high as ₦100k.
Do you still go on dates?
Henry: Yes. We have evening dates. Most times, we just go out and eat. The last proper date where we dressed up was in February.
Was it for Valentine’s?
Christabel: No. We spent Valentine’s indoors, and we exchanged gifts. I picked out pictures from three key events in our lives and framed them. He was going “aww”, but the real joy came out when he saw the wireless gamepad I got for him…
Henry: It’s not like that. I liked the frames, but I’d been planning to get the gamepad for a while, so seeing it was nice.
Christabel: His gift for me didn’t come until five days after because of some logistics issue. He got two Kampala dresses I’d been eyeing online. I started the conversation with the vendor until she mentioned the price. But he got them.
How much did the gifts cost?
Christabel: You know you’re not supposed to tell people how much their gift cost sha. But the frames were ₦25k, and the pad was about ₦23k.
Henry: Both dresses were ₦40k.
Christabel: No wonder I didn’t buy it. Please, I’ll look for a tailor to sew it next time.
How often do you gift each other?
Christabel: We try to get something nice for each other on special occasions. I can’t seem to remember most of it, but for Valentine’s in 2021, we were both busy at work. He got me a large picture frame, chocolates and perfume.
Henry: She got me those open-cut shoes.
Christabel: He didn’t like shoes like that, but now he loves them. I think we buy better clothes for each other than we do for ourselves. Like, during our first Christmas as husband and wife last year, we agreed not to exchange gifts, but he’d been going on about one kaftan, so I got his tailor’s number from his phone and made it for him. I also added perfume and some chocolates in a box. It cost ₦35k.
How do you celebrate birthdays?
Henry: We’ve had just two birthdays together, and our birthdays are a month apart. For her birthday in 2021, I got her a dress, a picture frame, and a love book with 28 reasons why I love her.
Christabel: There was also the cake and photoshoot.
Henry: Oh yes, everything cost like ₦150k sha.
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Christabel, what about you?
Christabel: He’d said he wanted his birthday to be just us, so I booked a room at a hotel, got a cake, wine and two shirts.
Henry: We talked and danced. It was a private party for both of us.
Christabel: I got a discount on the room because we weren’t going to spend the night, and the cake was baked by my friend. In total, I spent ₦70k.
And the second year?
Henry: Her mum was sick at this time, so we were too busy moving hospitals to celebrate her birthday. But I got her a custom box with her name on it, cake, juice, small chops and chocolate. I also got her an adire dress and custom-made affirmation cards. Everything cost ₦65k.
Her mum passed before my birthday a month later, so we didn’t do anything for mine.
Quick question, who is your next of kin?
Henry: She’s mine.
Christabel: He’s not only my next of kin; he’s my unpaid business consultant. I have a cleaning business, and he assists with financial advice and solutions. I make about ₦100k in profit on an average month.
Do you have a financial safety net?
Christabel: I try to keep aside some money whenever something enters my hand. Sometimes it’s ₦20k, sometimes ₦50k. But I have a ₦200 auto daily savings.
What do you think about your financial future as a couple?
Christabel: We’re going to be wealthy. I can’t say how, but we’re both open to exploring different business opportunities, so that’s bound to happen.
Henry: I agree; we’re a good team. We will make money from whatever we decide by creating and giving value.