The other day I sat with my friend Arnold at a café in Westlands. He had a question for me:
“When you get married, how do you intend to handle your finances with your wife?”
I did not understand immediately what he was getting at, so he clarified.
“Will each of you deal with his/her finances individually, or will you deal with finances jointly, or something in between?”
I had a ready answer for that. We will merge finances. We may not have joint accounts, but she will know exactly how much I am making, and I will know what she will be making. We will be making all major financial decisions together. When we succeed, we succeed together. When we burn our fingers, we do it together.
Arnold agreed with me. We both agreed that it is a risk, but it is a risk worth taking. But the risk itself is minimal if we get married according to the current plans, because first, both women are sober and sensible. Unless Satan enters them at some point in the future. Second, marriage itself is an institution based on a thin thread called trust. And we are willing to trust with our all, including finances.
Now, way before my meeting with Arnold, the #PrayerPartner had introduced yet another question around the area of finances.
“Would you mind if I earned more than you?”
No, I replied. Then I introduced my thinking on finances in marriage, basically what I told Arnold. She agreed with my viewpoint, so I explained that in that model, it really doesn’t matter who earns more. Because it is OUR money, and we jointly make all the major decisions. Even if I pass away before her, the adult children cannot push her around. Because she will be the sole boss remaining.
Later, I had an interesting discussion with a lady friend.
“The man is the provider, even according to the scripture. He should take care of all the needs of the home” she said.
Provider, fair enough. After all I am a well brought up Kimeru man. Brought up to work hard and provide. But all the needs?
“So what do you do with your money?” I asked.
“It is my money. A real man should not concern himself with a woman’s money”.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have just discovered that I am not a real man. I am a fake version imported from China. Actually, I landed on Wednesday via the Standard Gauge Railway.
“So what if you earn more, say three times more?” I pressed.
“Then we live the standard of life he can afford. If he earns 50k, we find a bedroom with a monthly rent of say 11k, send children to public schools…you get the drift?”
“Yes I do. But is he doing all these while you are making 150k every month? What will you do with all the money? Will the man even be able to save for a rainy day?”
“What I do with the money is really none of his business. He should be a man enough to find hustles to supplement his income. That is what real men do.”
Now, I have discovered that this girl is not alone. Quite a number of my female acquaintances share this way of thinking. To some extent, it is understandable, given the culture we are coming from. Men earned money. They were the bread winners. Women stayed at home, cooked, washed and took care of babies. They also planted sukuma wiki around the kitchen, which they sold to the neighbors. Surely, a man would not ask a woman what she did with the 25 bob she got from the sukuma wiki.
But times are changing. More and more women are getting into the job market. And this is what I think. But I will quickly add that I do not speak for all men. I speak for those men who believe that women are as equally competent as men. Those who consider themselves feminists, like myself.
Now, when we are getting married, we are looking for a partner. We are not looking for a beautiful pet, or a toy. That means, one, we are willing to help around the house. The nature of the help will differ from person to person, but basically we will not sit fiddling with the remote as you kill yourself with the house chores. We know that the chores are not your work, but our (me and you) work, and we will willingly play our part. Our uncles will not approve, and our ancestors may turn in their graves, but we mostly do not care.
We will ask for your opinion when we are making major decisions. We will involve you. Because we trust your intellect. Chances are, we married you more for your brains than face or hips. But we expect you to get rid of the stereotypes as well. Come to the table and take your seat. And yes, bring your money, let us pool our resources together and build our empire.
Now, I will add that the partnership will exist even if you are not in gainful employment. If say, you decide to quit your job and be a housewife, you do not lose your place on the table. Provided you are pulling your weight in other ways. Because the idea is that we are in this together. It is not a competition, it is a partnership.
In other words, we are looking for co-principals (real co-principals, not the nusu mkate type). We are not looking for queens. I will explain. Kings wives were there to be seen. If you read the book of Esther in the Bible, when Queen Vashti exercised her brain and refused to be paraded in front of a bunch of drunk men, King Ahasuerus and his boys got rid of her. When her successor, Esther, wanted to see her husband, she would come trembling, fearing for her life. She even asked her entire nation to pray and fast for her. So that she could talk to her husband.
We do not want that. We want partners. Co-principals. So if you still want to keep your money, sorry, we are not interested. But do not worry, there are enough men would take you and allow you to keep your money. In fact, even give you more. But if some of them require you to keep something else to yourself, namely, your opinions, do not complain. Because you cannot have your cake and eat it at the same time.