Saturday, 10 March 2012

No Finance, No Romance

I sat there listening to them talk about everything and anything. They were a rowdy sort but they equally reminded me of my friends and I during university days. We were a rowdy group too. They sat close together at the fast food place. I had gone there to wait for my sister who had gone to shop at the nearest Shopping Center. I hated shopping and I was tired of walking from one shop to the other so I opted to wait for her while she went on to buy for whatever she wanted to get. There were four of them obviously fresh from the university and looking forward to a bright future. They were an excited lot and very refreshing compared to the hostile sun outside, one of the reasons why I decided to sit in the fast food place. At least I would be able to enjoy the air-conditioning before my sister turned up.

I tried not to listen to them. It was not in my character to eavesdrop on other people’s conversation but they were a boisterous group and I just couldn’t help but listen. “See, I am not going to marry someone who cannot provide for me. In fact, I put guys to test and if I suspect that you’re anywhere near being stingy, that’s the end.” One of them said. She was light skinned and very beautiful. She looked very confident and self assured.
“At least, you have a choice in who you will marry. My parents chose the man for me and he is my mother’s best friend’s son. I have no choice in the matter but the truth is Hausa men take care of their wives. Most often, you are not even allowed to work.” Said one of the girls who probably was from the Northern part of the country.
“I can’t imagine my parents choosing my husband for me in this day and age. Not working is out of the question. Why did I spend four years in the University just for me to become a house wife? Ha! I have to work o!” answered the third girl. This particular one looked like a modern day girl with all the modern day determination of girls who wants more to life than being a wife and a mother.
“What if your husband insist?” asked the light skinned girl
Lai-lai, that can’t happen. I am not going to wait for any man to provide for me. I can fend for myself at least that’s why my parents sent me to school.” The determined girl answered emphatically.
“Even if I work, earn all the money in this world, the man must provide. It is the duty of the man to provide. How can I respect him if he doesn’t meet his obligations? I beg o!” answered the light skinned girl.
“What if he looses all the money? What will you do? I will marry for love. I believe that marriage is a joint effort, a partnership. It does not matter who provides as long as there is an understanding” argued the fourth girl who had being quiet. She looked rather innocent.
“Ha! What has love got to do with the business of marriage?” asked the light skinned girl “You are sure of the old skool” she said and they all burst out laughing. The fourth girl was embarrassed as her friends laughed out loud. Everyone in the fast food place turned to look at them.

I felt compassion for her especially the way her friends laughed at her innocent response. I wish life was that simple but I have since come to understand that nothing was as simple as the four of them thought. In my younger days, my friends and I used to talk of marrying someone who had prospect and is responsible. Being rich wasn’t in the picture but just for him to have prospect.  We had since realised that even that may not be enough in safeguarding ourselves from going through financial abuse. I sneaked a look at the young ladies as they continued with their gist. “How nice to be young and free!” I thought.

I remembered my friends and I having almost the same discussion at one point and all of us feeling very self assured but it has not turned out as we envisaged. My friends, Devotion and Endurance shared their experience with me sometime ago. Devotion met her husband when we were at the university. They were much in love and we were not surprised that they quickly got married after graduation and settled down to marital life. Things were tough financially for them because they were both in a profession that is not as lucrative as being in the telecom or financial industry. Devotion was determined for them to live a comfortable life, so she combined jobs. While her husband just got by with whatever he could lay his hands on.  According to her, not once in all their twenty years of marriage did her husband give her house keeping allowance.

“Ose, I was always out there looking for what else to do just to make ends meet. I am the man of the house. I wear the trouser and he doesn’t mind. I pay the school fees, house rent, everything. It is scary now that Ifemide my son is in the University and I still have to pick the bills. The children don’t bother to go to him for anything. I suspect that they know I fund everything even though I try hard to cover up for him but they are not fools. I have noticed that Ifemide barely respects him.  The sad thing is while, I bring my money home to fend for us he spent his on himself.  The little he makes he spends on perfumes, toiletries, clothes, shoes etc. Once in a while, he will buy grocery and that’s all. I have tired to discuss this with him but each time he shrugged it off as if it doesn’t matter. I am tired I just can’t continue” she lamented. “I bear the financial burden of the house. The only thing is he assists with the house chores and allows me to concentrate on my business. Again, he was very supportive when my mother was very sick. I can’t fault him for that but bearing the whole financial burden is excruciating. I just wish he would support once in a while.”

I felt very sad listening to Devotion. I just can’t imagine how a man will feel comfortable allowing the woman to be the bread winner. I felt it was very irresponsible of her husband and I wanted to hug Devotion just to reassure her but I was shocked at   Endurance’s reaction.

“Devotion, you are spoilt” she said. I looked at Endurance in shock.
 “Why are you being insensitive?” I asked disgusted with her.
“Look, Devotion is lucky. If I was married to her husband, I would rejoice and willingly do everything for him.” Endurance replied. I starred at her astonished. I have always felt Ed was a feminist who will not take such nonsense from any man.
“How?” I asked. Sometimes, it is difficult to know when Ed is serious
“You surprise me Ed. Are you saying that my complaint is unfounded?” Devotion asked obviously hurt. I can imagine how she felt after all, girls should stick together.
“No I am not saying that. All I am saying is that you are luckier than I am. I am worst off. Just like you, I pay all the bills which include the house rent. I provide meals, clothe him. I mean I do everything, absolutely everything in the house and I end up being abused and unappreciated. See, Bennie will not lift a finger to do anything in the house. You see what upsets me most is that he would invite his friends over once I left for work and they would have a feast without any regard for the fact that I am the sole provider.” Endurance narrated.
“Common Ed, how did you get into this? You were a no nonsense person back in the University days.” I asked shocked at her story.
Ore, na so dem they ask person. We didn’t start out like that. In fact, we both contributed our quota the first year of our marriage at least financially. Then he got retrenched from his place of work during the financial sector wahala and I took over the responsibilities. After all, it wasn’t planned and I felt he would soon get another job. One year has turned to ten years now and I am the one still bearing the financial responsibility. I asked him to get a job but he said he would rather go into business. The business is more of a curse than a blessing o! Bennie is always claiming that his clients owe him. Even when I assisted him to get a project in my office, he still turned round to abuse me. In fact, he almost got me into trouble because the job was so badly executed.” She said
“I am sorry to hear this” I said
“I never finish ore. He borrowed money from me to execute some projects. He never paid back. I better not ask him for the money if I want peace o. Anyway, one day, I got tired and asked for a heart to heart discussion. I just couldn’t continue. I mean Bennie was going to run me bankrupt. I was doing well career wise but my account was in red. The man was borrowing money from me as if I own Central Bank. So we sat down for this discussion and I told him to get a job and that I had no intension of continuing the way we were. My sisters, that day he told me the story of how my mama met my papa and gave birth to me. He abused me so much that I was left speechless and confused. So, I decided not to fund any of his projects again. Since then, life has being hell. At least, Dev, your husband helps with the house chores, Bennie, is too macho to even lift a finger to do anything. You know because I refused to fund his entire bogus projects, he chased my younger sister back to my parents in a house I pay the rent. If I talk, he will say it is because I am richer than him. You know what I found out recently, Bennie has a landed property in Lagos."
“Ha!” echoed Devotion and I
“Yes, I almost fainted when I saw the receipts and other documents relating to the property in his name. I have being a fool o!” Endurance said. Her voice shook slightly and her eyes misted with tears. I felt extremely sorry for my friends. I could feel their pains.
“This is so unfair. Your story reminds me of my friend Lovelyn. Dev you remember her now. We came to your office together.
“Oh yes that’s true. What about her?”
“Her situation is so pathetic that my heart bleeds for her. Her husband starves her of funds. He drives luxury cars while my friend jumps on buses. She used to work in a bank and she was the sole provider for a long time while the husband was jobless. She did everything to make him feel comfortable but the sad thing is the husband turned mean immediately he got a job in one of the telecommunication companies. He started doing well, unfortunately, she lost her job. They both decided she should stay back home and take care of the kids but that has being her undoing. Her husband uses money to manipulate her. Anytime, they had a slight disagreement, he would starve her of funds. She told me she was so disturbed one day that she asked him why he felt she deserved to be treated the way he treated her since it was a joint decision for her to stay at home. You know he told her that she maltreated him while he was out of job and so it was his turn. Lovelyn told me, she used to give him her salary and he would only give her some stipends to spend during the month. She stopped giving him her salary the day he slapped her for spending out of her income to buy a pair of shoes without his knowledge.” I narrated

“Women dey suffer o!” Devotion said. “No wonder she looked so sad and forlorn. I was going to ask you about her after that time you came to my office because of how dejected she looked”
“She is very unhappy. She looked for a job but you know how our environment is. It has being very difficult. She tried going into business but her husband frustrated her.  He would promise to assist her and at the last minute he would change his mind for no apparent reasons. He has the money to give her as seed capital but just simply refused.”
“What do we do as women? How do we free ourselves from this mess? We started out so hopeful but….” Devotion said despondently
“But you know this is a form of abuse. In fact it is called financial abuse.” I said
“Abuse? How? Who has ever heard of financial abuse?” Devotion asked
“Ose you don start o! What is it with pycho analysis?” Endurance asked
 “This is a form of abuse that comes in different ways. The most common is when the husband because of his financial muscle, denies his wife access to funds like Lovelyn. The idea is she will not be financially empowered as he is so that she can be permanently subjected to him. He denies her of funds or just gives enough not to starve her and the children but never enough for her to have extra. In most situations, she is not allowed to work or be employed in any way. This kind of abuse is most prevalent in the society.  This is why most women will never agree to become home makers because it is a job that does not attract financial empowerment. Sometimes, the woman is subjected to sub human behaviour just because she is at her husband’s mercy.” I explained “The other type is what you guys are going through. The truth is that it is often subtle at the initial stage and as women, we often start out wanting to assist but we surely get our fingers burnt.”
“You know you are right. I started out wanting to cover up for Bennie because he lost his job and I didn’t want it to affect his self esteem” Endurance replied
“It didn’t really matter to me who was doing what.  I just wanted us to be comfortable and live well. Moreover, I didn’t want Ifemide to suffer so I worked hard to provide for the family. “Devotion said quietly.
“I know what you mean. Don’t blame yourself because you meant well for your family. The point is that men who behave like that are often opportunist. They can also be emotional and physical abusive.” I explained
 “I don’t know what to do now. Ose what can I do?” she asked eagerly 


  1. The story reminds me of a Yoruba adage which says "obirin to ba go lo n gbe'le oko." This means "A woman who wishes to stay married to her husband for life must be prepared to play the fool on many occasions."
    I have been a child, now I am a man, with a wife and child of my own, and I can testify to the fact that women, most women, do not find it easy in marriage. We men, are usually authoritative, unromantic and touchy. And when a man's finances is not going well, hmmm, that is the toughest one, he becomes an irritant and of course, its his wife that will be the first and worst hit, for they are the ones who live with him.
    In all, I believe staying close to Jesus would help families the more, it would help the man to be more empathetic to his wife and treat her the way a woman deserves to be treated.
    And when I look at what marriage has become in America and Europe today, for marriage in those climes is not worth more than a dime to most of these people, when I look at the flimsy reasons why people divorce in America today, I cannot but thank and appreciate the African woman. The African woman goes through way worse scenarios than the Western woman, white or black, yet they (African women) still stick it through most of the time, taking blows without retaliation, and keeping the family together at the expense of their happiness and independence, just to see their children grow to become balanced and solid individuals.
    To the African woman, Ose and all her friends, I say to you, GBOSA! E e jere awon omo yin o, amin.

    1. So so true Egbon Adejuwon. I can't agree with you more. I live in Toronto, Canada having relocated from Naija a few years ago. In my almost 6 years stay in North America, NO single day has passed when I did not experience an event or something that would make me genuinely say aloud "God bless Nigerian women". African women like Ose and company are hardworking, patient, loving, selfless, beautiful, wise, intelligent, very resourceful and spiritually up-to-date. This is why the concept of family unit is still very strong in Africa while that of the western world is almost completely destroyed. It is an arguable fact that the hope of the next world rest on the shoulders of Africa and some parts of Asia (poverty aside), thanks largely to the women of these cultures for enduring and sacrificing to build a strong family unit thereby building a strong society. In their quest for freedom and power, western women have completely made nonsense of the phenomenon of esteemed womanhood as they have gone way beyond the boundaries of decency. The result is an almost irreversibly broken society that is waiting to go down on the wrong side of history. Viva African women, hold tight the next world belongs to you and your next generations.

  2. “What do we do as women? How do we free ourselves from this mess?Great question.Marriage in many ways is a gamble.You can even say it is Rusian Roulette. Salute to the Nigerian Woman as Adejumo has said.
    Augustine Togonu

  3. Fantastic read. I read it through tho long but I did read it through.
    This is what happens everywhere and everyhome. Ask every woman, the story goes along the same line. It is well, that's all I can say.
    Fadekemi Adeyeye

  4. What makes a man is the financial strenght that he has, owo ni keke iyin rere, Money is the authority that a man has,u are respected because u pick the bills at home and u call the shots,when u lose the financial power, u better respect urself and let the woman call the shots or else u will hear when ur grandfather was born. That is why men stomach all sorts of things and pretend they do not see that their wives have affairs.Honestly money is power at home even people respect u outside when u can fulfil ur responsibilities.Love is stronger and sweet when u are loaded,but with poverty romance becomes a burden to d woman,it will be difficult for the man to ask and receive sex,but with money ,u are given even when u do not ask ,and ur first name is Darling while without money ur first name is l am tired.
    Stephen Fajobi

  5. Very good write up. Pls keep this up. I believe you have copies of these for future publication. Good work

  6. another brilliant piece, i'll not take this wt a pinch of salt cause i Know a lot of women go thru this and many more in their marriages, but u know life is like a pendulum, what can i say to d like od Devo, Endu and d 3rd lady, keep d faih strong, nothing lasts forever even pains do go away!!!

  7. Very interesting Yemi and an eye opener to what African women go through for the sake of keeping a marriage. Adejuwon has nailed it but should African women live their lifetime in despair? African women are strong, kudos!!! but emotional stress shortens lifespan. Life is too short, we are on this planet to enjoy and not to endure. For whatever reason- societal norms or virtues etc.- l refuse to allow anyone man or woman to frustrate my life. RonkieB

  8. I quite enjoy this as usual. More grease to your elbow.

  9. Nice and interesting piece. God have mercy on us women and give us the grace to remain sane. Bible says a wise woman builds her home and the foolish one tears it apart.Lord grant us WISDOM at times like this,Amen.

  10. This is interesting. Mirrors what happens in a number of families. We all need to pray for God to continue providing us the basic things of life.
    Also portrays the dilema of the employed. It is a pointer that the way to go is self-empployment, even though it may not be easy initially.

  11. Yemi, I never knew the literary side of my good friend. This is simply marvelous! I have always known the consultant Yemi; I didn't realize there is a WS residing quietly inside you. Please develop this God-given skill further and make the best of it.

    Now on the subject! The scenario you have painted no doubt represents a reality 'sui generis' in our society today. My gut feeling is that corporate women probably fall the greatest victim. Hundreds if not thousands of instances can be seen all around that confirm your story. But I think we must also admit that there are thousands other cases where the man, even the Nigerian man, tries to take good care of his wife and children. There could be an ethnic dimension. For instance, people believe that our folks from the East are better husbands as far as nourishing and cherishing the wife is concerned. I am not sure I would say that of the North, because of the challenges polygamy poses. It is a mix in the West - good husbands and bad husbands. I am not sure which side is more.

    I also believe that one's sense of spiritual commitment will matter here. A genuine, committed born again Christian for instance would be more responsible in taking care of the wife and children. But one would be wary to push this too hard, because most church-goers today are unconverted, unbroken worshipers. We are seeing a church that is 'fallen away'.

    These are just my cogitations, which may open up an avenue for further discussions. Once again, let your pen keep flowing! Kudos!.

    1. Dr,egbon mi, Thanks for your compliments.I do appreciate it. I have being writing for a while but mostly in passing but with the encouragement of people like you, I am working on developing this skill. Please sign on the blog and will send more of this to you.

    2. In my opinion, Women's problem starts with their choice of men. Women tend to go for men they loved more insteady of men that loved them more.
      I don't know if you will agree with on this, in a relationship not to talk of marriage which is a long distance race in itself; whoever loves more gets taken advantage of. So don't feminize this issue, it happens on both sides of the isles.
      I happen to be a father of two girls and that what I have been telling them to be careful of the guy you loved so much because he is the one that will abuse and take advantage of your love.

  12. I guess I am signed in now

  13. My pix is not showing. What am I doing wrong? Which should I pick in 'select profile'

  14. You write beautifully. I did not remove my eyes from the page till I finished. Unfortunately, a strong girl like me is crying. I am at loss for words on what fellow women should do...Life is indeed a gamble.

  15. Yemi, Nigerian women shld learn NOT to carry load dat is NOT theirs! Feeding, Housing, Skuul fees, is NEVER a Nigerian womens business! If u shoulder it, ul be so much stressed out, with all sorts of medical issues, looking like a worn out second clothing, while this guy will look cool and healthy! Above all, its a thankless mission! Let d 9igerian man be d man and shoulder his responsibilities!(He may accuse you of having used his star!)

  16. Yemi darln so true, so apt, remember me from the past? most of the stories are rolled into one for me way back then. can I share this on my wall?
    Tayo Bankole

  17. It took me a while to respond to this thought provoking (mind my cliche) piece mainly because I believe there are millions of sisters out there going through this harrowing experience; enduring similar emotional rape in an institution that God originally ordained to bring deep joyful experience to mankind even as husband and wife bask in the radiating glory of the Creator. Indeed the concept of endurance was not factored in until man fell.
    The biblical account of the first time Adam saw Eve is that of a man lost in love that he exclaimed "alas, this is the bone of my bone... (the rest we know).
    As i pondered over these thoughts, i remembered my Mum's saying concerning an overwhelming situation. She says "look inwards, perhaps in your hands lies the solution"
    I have come to realise how true this saying could be as I come across starry eyed brides to be, totally oblivious of what others may read about their would be partners. Totally struck by Cupid, lost forever to every form of logic. It happens or happened to us all. For some, it ended up happily ever after. For some, the song changed to " I am not your superwoman"
    If we can set the tune on rewind, we would clearly notice that the stingy, uncaring man did not just adopt that stance. My Yoruba people would say character is like a smoke. Lost in love or desperate to settle down, a lot of ladies choose to ignore those traits pointing out the profile of the person they are going to live the rest of their life with ( no thanks to societal and traditional expectations).
    Charity ( not real name) for instance, went to the extent of buying all her engagement things, wedding bands inclusive and even put the necessary monies ( dowry and all) in envelopes for her own engagement because the man could "not afford" to put down the money. According to my brothers at Wazobia FM, " who be fool?" talking about starting on the wrong note.
    Perpetual ( not real name too) mused " by the time we are married, I know I will be able to change him. Wipe off the dream Sis. You are marrying a man, grown and moulded. His mother did not succeed at this, what makes you think you could?
    This is not to lay all blames at the doorstep of men as some sisters are not any better in dealing with their husbands. Some naturally very loving men have fallen prey of "hard girls". God help them.
    For Seeking Sisters, please look well, pray well, and let the man do the needful.
    For those in turbulent relationship, look inwards, pray for guidance and strength.
    For sisters in abusive relationship. CRY OUT! SEEK HELP URGENTLY!
    God bless us all. Ronke Y.

  18. hmmmmmnnnnnnnnnnnnnn! I sighed. Interesting and heart breaking at the same time. I am still crying because the story sounds familiar. May God help women! Sometimes i feel like running away from my home and the man i call ''husband'' if not for my lovely children. I have been married for more than five years but i live as a single mom. we talk, we have sex but just as flat mates who have aet the rules to share some things. I am the husband in the house. I shoulder all the responsibilities except once in a while when he decides to do.
    Anyway, i thank God for his mercies and for the kind of choices the holy spirit has been helping me to make. I take good care of my children, i do not allow his rejection to get to me anymore, i play a lot, stay in the midst of happy people and worry less.

    Thank God i have reasons to be happy and live for; my adorable kids.

  19. Women , sisters . Ladies please stop all this God help women business , God will not come down from heaven to help physically if we keep doing things for the men that is not rightfully our duties Thanks to people like Ronke Yusuf.who has poited out mistakes women make imagine a lady going to the extent of buying rings and even paying her own dowry ?? What is there for the man to assime his manly duties ? It is such a shame !!