Hello everyone! We bring you another episode of Honest Conversations on Marriage with Modupe Ehirim. These are musings on marriage from a woman who has been married for over 3 decades. We are privileged to have her articles on Naija Housewives every Sunday. You can read the one before this here. Feel free to leave your comments – she will reply. Enjoy!
“Do you want to keep your earnings when we marry?”
That was the question my husband asked me while we were preparing to get married. According to him, many marriages had hit the rock because of money issues and so he wanted us to chart the way forward so we would not get into trouble. His question surprised me. No, it shocked me. Why, do I hear you ask? As far as I knew, my parents had operated joint finances. I didn’t know how they worked out the details, but as far as I could see, they were united where money was concerned. Until my husband asked the question, it never occurred to me that husbands and wives were not united on money issues.
“Of course,” I promptly responded, “No. My money is your money and vice versa.” He assured me that he was willing and able to cater for the family’s needs without my earnings but he just wanted us to be clear about our expectations from one another. I wish that I could say that once that was sorted out, we went on in marriage and never had any money-related misunderstandings. We did.
[media-credit id=1 align=”aligncenter” width=”600″][/media-credit]One such misunderstanding was about making a family budget. At the time my husband already had a habit of making and keeping a personal budget. I on the other hand, had never made a budget in my life before that time. I omitted to provide for many things. Consequently, I always ran short of money. I didn’t know that a budget was a plan which could be adjusted as time went on based on the record you keep of your actual expenditure, so I didn’t keep records. Frustration set in and I took it out on my husband. I’m sure you’re smiling because you know the kind of conversation that took place in my home.
I eventually started to record my expenses. The records were eye opening. I was able to see where my money was going. I also was able to have an objective budget discussion with my dear husband. The result of that discussion was more funds allocated to cover the expenses which I was to handle. I also learnt that he was not a tight-fisted man. He just was being a wise manager of funds.
[media-credit name=”Source: businessnews.com.ng” align=”aligncenter” width=”600″][/media-credit]These misunderstandings happen in many homes, but are they really about money? Not really. They occur because people very often go into marriage without understanding principles that make for marital success. One such principle is that a couple should, before marriage, discuss and agree a plan for handling their money. We come to marriage from different backgrounds. Without extensive discussions, we remain unaware of the money paradigms with which we come into the relationships. We assume that we understand each other when we discuss money. Discussing money issues helps a couple to understand that they are starting with very different ideas about what purchases they should make and when. They also get to explore their attitudes towards money and come to some agreement about how to manage it in their new home. If you and your husband, did not have discuss finances before you said, “I do”, it’s not too late. You can do it even now.