Just reading through Julia Lawrence‘s take on financial independence in marriage has inspired me to write this deevanalysis.
Ten or more years ago, I’d have vehemently opposed Mrs Lawrence’s views. But now, I know better.
I must warn my male readers, you might not like what I’m about to say. Read only if you’re brave enough to face the truth.
Contrary to what most people think, I did not read Mass Communication or Journalism or English. I have two degrees in Business Administration and Banking & Finance. I worked as an Accountant and a Financial Administrator for some years before settling down to blogging and writing.
Over the years as a married woman, I’ve tried my hands on several business ventures as well as a few office jobs. So I’m going to share my experience as a woman who was once financially DEPENDENT on her husband. Then I shall give you solid reasons why you should NEVER consider being a full time housewife without any source of income.
Trust me, no matter how in love you are with your husband when you first got married, the first thing that will begin to cause a rift in your relationship will be issues relating to finance.
When I got married in my early 20s, I was extremely naive. I went into matrimony armed with nothing but a few advise I got here and there from church sermons. Nothing prepared me for the practical examples I later experienced in my marriage.
First, I got married to the kind of man who felt being ‘locked up’ at home gave him the assurance that other men won’t see me to chase me. We started a business together using a grant that my parents had given to us as a wedding gift. Somehow, he managed to shortchange me and ordered me to go back home and remain a housewife because in his own words, it wasn’t compulsory for a man and his wife to work together.
Then I got a job offer with a mortgage bank in the city we lived. When I told him, his reply was:
“I don’t want my wife exposed to men who will chase her. Why do you want to work, when I’m capable of taking care of you?”
This was the first biggest mistake I made. I should have respectfully stood my ground using our family elders and the church to intervene where necessary. But I didn’t. When I needed money to satisfy basic needs such as fixing my hair or nails, he’d say there were other pressing financial needs to be fulfilled.
Gradually, I deteriorated from a sophisticated lady to an unkempt housewife and mother who was ashamed of going out in public or socializing with my peers for fear of being judged or mocked. Naturally, I became depressed and the depression led to weight gain.
When my father saw how depressed I was, he gave me a loan, and instructed me to pay back at a certain time. Obviously he didn’t like the fact that the grant he had given us never favoured me. I invested the loan in travelling to Senegal and bringing in their ethnic outfits for sale back here in Nigeria. All my goods sold out and I made 150% profit. Then we needed to change accommodations. My husband said he didn’t have enough money to pay for the new house and demanded I loan him all the money I had. I told him I must return the capital to my dad because it was a loan, while reinvesting the profit. Only after my second round of sales would I be free to do whatever I liked with the profit. He pleaded that he’ll pay back both the capital and profit I made in time to meet my father’s deadline.
He has never paid me back to this day. That business was ruined and came to an end because I had nobody to loan me a new capital and of course my father never forgave me once he discovered how the money went.
Then I got a job with an insurance company. The pay wasn’t much but I’m naturally a very thrifty person. So I was able to achieve much with very little. Slowly at first, he began to shift some financial responsibilities to me until I caved in from the weight of it. Then I got a better job as an accountant with an NGO funded by the American government. It became worse. I couldn’t save any money because I was made to bite more than I could chew financially, while hubby gave the excuse of never having any money.
Then he got transferred to Abuja and I was making plans to also obtain a transfer as my company’s headquarters was in Abuja but he played that same “stay at home, I can take care of you” card.
When we got to Abuja in 2010, I had only N170k left with me. He asked for all of it to add to what he had to pay for our living room sofa. He said it was a loan, but till today he is yet to pay back.
I’ve had so many business ideas that would have blown if I just had someone to fund it. But he has never taken a look at them, talk less of figuring out how to finance them. When I demanded for my money to carry out a business startup myself, it brought so much trouble that our pastor had to beg me to write off all he has ever owed me as a bad debt.
So broke, penniless and with zero naira as my bank balance, all my dreams were seemingly dashed. I wept and wept when I remembered all the hopes and dreams I had as a young girl. All the dreams I had of being the CEO of my own company. No offence to my pastors, but I realise they never succeeded in using the word of God to put our men in order. It’s only the women they hammer the teaching of submission to. Submit! Submit!! Submit!!! They echo these teachings to Christian women so much so that we find it difficult to draw a line between humility and stupidity. While our menfolk are never called out during counselling for lacking compassion or being fair in taking decisions that affect the emotional stability of their wives.
One day, my eyes zoomed to the story of the ‘Virtuous Woman’ in the bible. It’s so funny, because as a young teenage girl in high school when my mates were more concerned about fashion and gossiping about boys, I was always drawn to frequently meditate on that chapter in Proverbs for reasons I couldn’t explain.
So I carefully began to study it as an adult woman until it hit me that the the Holy Spirit was trying to tell me something.
10 A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds.
11 Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it.
12 Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.
13 She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing.
14 She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises.
15 She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day.
16 She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.
17 First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
18 She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
19 She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking.
20 She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor.
21 She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
22 She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
23 Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers.
24 She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
25 Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
26 When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly.
27 She keeps an eye on everyone in her household, and keeps them all busy and productive.
28 Her children respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise:
29 “Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!”
30 Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
31 Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!
Then it totally hit me, the kind of woman, that God wanted me to be. Look at verse 16. She considers a field and buys it with money she has set aside (her savings). No where in that scripture, did I see where it was compulsory for her to ask for her husband’s permission to buy the field (acquire assets). And I didn’t see where she was expected to be financially dependent on her husband. In fact, the bible said she woke up very early…a sign of being hard working and diligent.
Which brings me to my warning. This woman wasn’t proud. Verse 12 says she was never spiteful, but treated her husband with respect. She put her home in order and did domestic duties expected of her as a wife before going about her personal business. She hired domestic help to ensure that these duties were properly carried out when she wasn’t disposed to cater to all.
Just as there’s a thin line between humility and stupidity, there’s also a thin line between financial success and pride. Women, I’m not teaching you to act proud toward your husbands because you earn a six-figure income. I’m only saying study this scripture carefully to see how this woman developed a strength of character that balanced her as a successful wife, mother and boss lady all rolled into one. Yes, it’s a tough mix but we can do it!That’s why the bible described such a woman as “hard to find” and her worth far more than diamonds and rubies…in other words, priceless. If the woman’s strategy at achieving all these was dishonourable, then her husband would not be “greatly respected” as he socializes with the men that matter in his city as quoted in verse 23.
The truth about most African men is if they know how much you’re worth, they won’t rest unless that money is finished. I learnt the bitter way. I cannot begin to tell you the kind of rift financial disagreements has caused in my marriage. Why the man feels he must have a car first before the wife or why her needs must be shelved in favour of his.
Most women who dare to be honest will confess that it can be the most painfully frustrating feeling ever. Let the man do what he must do as a man. And let the woman do what she must as a woman. You do not necessarily have to declare your income or assets to your husband, if it will cause more harm than good to your marriage. And you do not necessarily have to wait to catch the crumbs that falls from your husband’s table to solve your financial needs.
The bottom line is for both of you to be happy with the union and in the union. If it takes both of you doing your separate thing, then by all means do it.
Recently, my husband and I were arguing about how he financially empowered me to start Peace Ben Williams Blog. I plainly told him that while I’m grateful for his support, he shouldn’t always hammer on it like he always did. Because if we wanted to be honest, the capital/profit of my Senegalese business of N250k I loaned to him in 2003 and the N170k in 2010 which he never paid back was more than enough to start off my blogging venture. Not to mention others. So we’ve helped each other at one time or the other and it was nothing to blow a trumpet about.
I’m grateful to God that I can at least independently run my business, indulge my kids once in a while, make my hair, do my nails or carry out one of those vain things we women do every now and then without calculating how I’ll set my mouth to beg Oga for the money. Then get depressed at being turned down.
I pray for the Lord to clothe us all with His divine wisdom, that we may all understand how to apply this wisdom to each peculiar situation of our marriage in Jesus name.
I’ve learnt my lesson. Love and money should be kept far apart, as far as marriage is concerned. I’d rather be a humble boss lady all day, everyday, than a penniless insecure housewife, period.