Monday, August 12, 2013

Managing Money in Marriage - A Must Read For Nigerian Husbands and Wives

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It is agreed by most people who counsel on marriages that one of the biggest causes of misunderstandings and quarels between husbands and wives is the issue of money. Do they make enough, and beyond that, how is the money they earn managed both for personal purposes and for the home?

This problem is exercabeted in Nigeria because of certain cultural dictates, one of which seems to be the seemingly societally enforced gulf between the lives of men and women even when they are married. Men keep secrets from their wives, and the women do like wise. But when it comes to financing the affairs of a home, secrets about money can be the beginning of the end of a real marriage.

Flo, a Nigerian wife living in Nigeria with her Nigerian husband is even more experienced in these matters than I am. She wrote a piece for Wives Connection where she expounds on her personal experiences and thoughts on how a husband and wife may be able to manage their money more effectively and in such a manner as to build trust and togetherness. It's a long one but you'll want to read to the end. She says;

From various discussions I’ve had with several men, the following are the reasons why most men do NOT want their wives to know how much they are worth not to talk of giving them access to their accounts.

- The husband wants to be able to give money to his relatives without his wife’s knowledge. If wifey knows about it, she will say no or at best try to reduce the amount of money he wants to give them.

- The husband is afraid that if wifey knows how much he is worth, she will kill him, take his money and go and share with her family or marry her boyfriend.

- The hubby is saving to build a house or start a business and is afraid that if the wife knows how much money he has, she will want to finish the money overnight. She is a spendy-spendy woman.

The husband wants to be able to make miscellaneous expenses without the knowledge of his wife. Examples include: restaurant outings with the boys, gifts to girlfriends/mistresses and other girlfriend expenses.

- The husband does not want the wife to know everything about him. He MUST keep something secret from his wife and his bank account it is!

- The husband says the wife will start looking down on him when she sees how much he is worth. This is usually from men who think they do not have much.

These are reasons from women:

- The wife complains that the hubby does not give her people money so she wants to be able to give money to her people without his knowledge. If he finds out, he will say that all her salary, including the feeding allowance he gives her, goes to her family.

- The wife wants to be able to stay up to date fashion-wise without hubby’s knowledge. If he finds out how much she spends on clothes and accessories, he will faint.

- The wife says since she does not know anything about hubby’s finances, he has no business knowing hers. Do me I do you, God no go vex.

- The wife wants to save for emergency situations for the future. She may be planning to stop work soon and will need some savings in case that happens.

Now tell me, is this how a marriage should be? Two people living under the same roof, sharing the same bed, making love every night or most nights?

There should be absolute transparency in money matters for all those that have been married AND living together as husband and wife for at least 5 years. I say living together because some people may be married for 7 years but have only lived together full time for only 3 out of those 7 years. 5 years is more than enough time for the initial getting to know each other and troubles to pass. So if after this time both parties cannot be absolutely transparent with each other in money matters, they should not answer husband and wife.

Let me tell you a story:

In my job, I work in remote locations for extended periods of time. Some time ago, while at work, a Nigerian colleague of mine was in distress, making frantic phone calls home. This even started affecting his job because he couldn’t sleep. When I asked him what was up, long story short, it was a problem of money. Not because he did not have money but because his wife could not gain access to the money. His wife needed a huge sum of money to settle some family emergency that threatened the safety of his wife and kids but she could not have access to his money because the account is only in his name. He was making frantic phone calls looking for who will give his wife the money on loan to no avail.

Eventually he was able to solve the problem and I sat him down and asked him the following questions:

- So, in spite of all your exposure, your wife, the closest person to you, does not have access to your money, ALL your money?

- Knowing the nature of our job, so if you died out here, your family will suffer forever? These your lovely children would suffer forever? And all your money will be taken by your bank?

- Who exactly are you suffering for? Who are you earning your money for?

He never gave me a good reason for doing it that way other than that women are dangerous hence should not be told or given access to everything.

I work in a man’s world so I get to hear stories that men only tell their fellow men so guys I stand here and tell you today. You need not fear your wives. We women have a tendency to appear dangerous when you hide things from us and when you treat us shabbily.

No spouse should play minds games with the other. Marriage should not be that way. I know there are wicked people in this world who will take advantage of such transparency but I tell you, they are just a small percentage. And most people become mean in self-defence so make sure you are not in any way contributing to your spouse’s “wickedness”.

For those who fear that their wives/husbands will kill them and make away with their money. I personally prefer that my other half got my money (killed me or not) to a random bank or insurance company getting my small change when I’m gone.

Please husbands and wives, when we pool our resources together, the family makes more progress:

1. Hubby, that house you want to build will be built sooner if wifey knows your plan and supports you as you save towards it. There is no woman that will not support you if you want to build a house for the family. I am not saying that in the process of saving for that house, your family should not eat because that’s where the problem starts. Some men use saving for one thing or the other as excuse for not bringing chop money.

Remember, it is food first before shelter and clothing. You play on your wife’s emotions because you know that naturally women cannot stand and watch their children starve. That is so wrong. You should not watch your children go hungry because you want your wife to bring out money.

We should never under any circumstances subject these innocent children to hardship because we are at loggerheads with our spouses.

2. Wifey those clothes, that latest shoe, you want to buy; hubby will buy you better and more expensive ones when you are buying them at the right time. Better things no dey finish.

3. Hubby, forget about those girls outside. They never bring you happiness and they never give you love. All you get from them are STDs and more problems on the home front. Dedicate your spare time towards working on finding happiness at home and you will see there’s no better happiness than that. And you will save money too!

4. Wifey that money you want to hide and give your parents, hubby will give them much more when it is made open and done at the right time.

5. Hubby that money you want to hide and give your people, wifey will even want you to give them more when given openly and at the right time. I know this for sure because when I was in school, the wives of my cousins/uncles always made them give me MORE money when I visited them. Sometimes if my cousins/uncles would not budge, the wives gave me more money in their presence and say: Don’t you know that she is nwata akwukwo (a student) that is suffering in school?

If you provide for your immediate family (ie wife and kids), no wife will be against you giving your family money from time to time. If some of your siblings are still in school and you are taking care of their education, this should not be a problem either because wifey must have known this fact even before both of you got married. This is also the case if your wife is seeing her siblings through school.

Where I come from, it is a good thing to also take care of your in-laws, at least give them money gifts from time to time. So if you do these together, I see no reason why one would feel sad that the other’s parents are being given money.

In fact a husband and wife should sit down and discuss the money that will be given to relatives and it should be shared according to how much both of you think each person needs, not because of who the person is related to. In our culture, it is inevitable to help relatives financially so every couple that is financially OK should make provision for this no matter how small.

6. Wives let’s ask ourselves: why does hubby leave certain needs for me to take care of? Why does he abandon his basic needs? Do I give him any reason to think I have more money than I am claiming to have?

Am I too much of a spendy-spendy wife that hubby does not trust me with money? Am I too anti-hubby’s people that hubby is scared to let me in on what he does for them? Would I sincerely prefer random bankers get my money if something happens to me to my hubby and kids getting my money? Does hubby think that I love money more than I love him to the extent that I will kill him to take his money?

7. Husbands ask your selves, why is it that when I tell my wife that I don’t have money, she does not believe me? Am I giving her reasons to believe that I have money but spend it elsewhere? Do I meet the family’s basic needs before I try to solve other people’s problems? Do I keep extramarital affairs that give me a reason to hide my account from wifey? Would I sincerely prefer that random bankers get my money if something happens to me to my wife and kids getting my money?

8. Husbands and wives we should all be careful how we give in to the whims and caprices of our first families. Sometimes, we should close our ears and eyes to pressures from our first families and work on our immediate family.

I’m not saying that you should not take care of your parents/relatives when they are sick or when they have a REAL need but we all know when parents and siblings are just giving us pressures for giving pressures sake. That house your parents are pushing you to come and build in the village do you really need it now? Or would you rather build a house where you currently live first so that those huge sums you pay as yearly rent will stop? Or do you want to go and build the village house at all costs for cockroaches to live in because according to your people, all your mates have finished building houses?

9. Husbands and wives, marriage is not a competition rather collaboration. If you earn more than your spouse, it is not a reason to treat him/her like your slave because you don’t know tomorrow.

10. Husbands, if you think your wife will look down on you when she sees it’s only a small change in your account then that’s another problem which is outside the scope of this write up. You probably made yourself appear bigger than you are worth from the beginning but it is never too late to start cleaning up that false impression.

So husbands and wives, let’s cool our temper when it comes to money. Money should solve problems not create them. And money is not everything. When you have all the money in the world and you can’t enjoy it with your family due to the problems created while you were “saving the money”, it is then you will see that money is not everything after all.

Money is great when we enjoy it with people. Will you go on that holiday alone? Will you go to Mr. Biggs or Tantalizers alone? Will you go to the cinema or the shopping plaza alone? Yes, you can but it won’t be fun at all! Yes, you can go to these places with people that are not your immediate family but you will not feel fulfilled.

So please make your family part of your financial plan so that you will all enjoy the fruits together when the time comes.

I know that every marriage is different. But transparency in money matters overcomes all problems. I know some people will NEVER go the joint account route. I also know couples who have separate accounts without problems.

But if you and your spouse are having serious issues about who pays for this and who pays for that, then you should seriously consider a joint account or at least having access (eg internet logins, pin codes etc) to each other’s accounts. Trust me; it is not difficult if you don’t have anything to hide. And this single act will improve your marriage in ways you can never imagine!

Husbands, you are the head and should take the lead in these matters. Believe me, whatever free and fair practices you put in place in your home, your wife will follow suit.

We spend a great part of our lives being married so let’s start enjoying our marriages and put a stop to material things killing our joy in our marriages.


Flo is a Nigerian food recipe expert and blogs at AllNigerianRecipes. This piece was first published on Wives Connection. Please share your own thoughts and experiences, let's discuss.


  1. This is a difficult thing to stick too, but nice write-up

  2. Gosh! Ds is too long bu nice anyway

  3. Gosh! Ds is too long bu nice anyway


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