Money  

“There is no leverage from her”

Dear Nimi,

I have two close friends that are both expecting me to propose to them. But my confusion is that I don’t really know which to go for. Let’s talk about them individually.

Lady C is 24 years old and has been my friend for close to 4 years. She is from a very humble family and is still in school. She is not in a hurry to get married, but would like to be sure that I am the right one for her. She is a good, calm, respectful lady, but there is no leverage from her. She is slim and beautiful.

Lady O is a 26-year old graduate. She is from a rich family and is a graphic designer. There can be leverage with her. She is beautiful, but she is too fat.

My married friends always talk about the importance of leverage, while my pastors say I should continue to pray.
I will be 38 this year.

Please advise.

Dear Emma,
I must admit that I was initially inclined to ignore your letter but decided otherwise as this is a learning opportunity not just for you, but for many who consider “leverage” as a primary consideration for marriage.

“Leverage” is a word usually applied to financial transactions. It means: “Use borrowed capital for (an investment), expecting the profits made to be greater than the interest payable.” Or, “use (something) to maximum advantage.”

I am not a marriage counselor, but I have over three decades of marriage experience. Marrying someone in whom you have not identified any attributes other than being “rich and beautiful, but too fat” is not a strong foundation for marriage. Sadly, I fear that you have been influenced by the prevailing culture of materialism that has pervaded our national life in Nigeria.

For a spouse, it is critical that your spiritual and moral values are aligned. Money issues have been cited as being a leading cause of divorce and acrimony. Before you commit to a lifelong relationship, try to understand your partner’s attitude to money. Here are a few issues for you to consider regarding money and relationships:

Communication
Money conversations can be awkward if not handled well. Financial intimacy is about being open and trusting about money matters in your relationship.

Financial compatibility
Money will be involved in almost everything you aspire to do. If your goals are compatible, it is easier to accomplish them. Even if they are in conflict, you may be able to accommodate the differences, assuming there are enough common goals to build together.

Family finances
Be guided more by what suits your individual personalities and skills and not by gender. Teamwork is essential and shared duties work well for some families. Even if one party takes the lead or is more involved, both should have a general overview of the total picture.

Routine household expenses
Handling everyday household expenses can be a source of friction. Budgeting is an important tool to give you a better picture of income and expenditure.

Assuming you both earn, who should pay for what? Should it be equal amounts no matter what each person earns, or pro-rated according to income? Periodic meetings are useful to review balances, debt, routine expenses as well as major expenses that need to be carefully planned for. Having a joint account for certain large and recurring expenses combined with individual accounts for personal expenses is the most common system.

Debt
Many people do not discover the extent of their spouse’s financial obligations until they are married; this can cause strife. Debt should be a priority; try to address it together and bring it under control.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to money and relationships but with careful planning and clear communication you can avoid many frustrating conversations. You can modify your system as your relationship and financial situation evolves; if one option doesn’t work, try another.



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