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Njoki Kaigai
A few weeks ago, I found myself a reluctant guest in a bridal-advice session.

A few weeks ago, I found myself a reluctant guest in a bridal-advice session. My issue with the session is that it was mainly made up matronly ladies whose advice did not seem to make sense for this day and age. Some told the bride that the way to keep her marriage going is to ensure her hubby eats her cooking daily - based on the bride’s nails I do not think that will happen.

Others told her to overlook all her hubby’s misdeeds; everything from leaving the toilet seat up to well, those occasional flings. The rest of the advice will be a topic for another day. What stuck with me was that the issue of money never came up, - one would think that would be topic No.1 in this day and age.

Everyone avoids discussions on how money (and sex) are usually some of the biggest challenges in modern day relationships. No one even tells couples that lack of money can lead to lack of sex and other attendant benefits in the marriage package.

Someone once said that money is like sex - good to have but vulgar to talk about. So, at the start of the relationships when everyone is feeling all mushy and lovey-dovey, no one ventures to really talk about money. Both parties skirt around the issue of finding out how much the other one really makes.

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In fact, earnings and monetary value are computed on dubious observations. For instance, there are ladies who assume that a man is making money just because he is driving a Subaru, drinks certain fine alcoholic beverages while decked in some designer labels.

Ignorant bliss

They dare not acknowledge that the same guy could be financing his lifestyle with many loans, could be using mobile apps to buy his drinks and well his designer labels might be cheap knockoffs from the Far East. Same thing applies to the ladies who seem to be loaded – the hair on their heads could be on an installment plan, and certain bills could be outsourced. In a nutshell, brokenness these days often comes packed in shiny, glittery and seemingly expensive things.

To make matters worse these shiny adornments blind and dumb lovebirds from asking pertinent questions like, “What exactly do you do for a living?

Are you a tenderpreneur? A thief? Commercial sex worker?” Some questions require guts but are necessary, like: “Might you be involved in activities that might lead you to jail? Or that might leave me a young grieving spouse?”

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Many partners like to operate in ignorant bliss and reckon that as long as things appear shiny and as long as there is money, all is well. This escapism could be the reason why we have many partners expressing outrage when they discover their partner is not really loaded but is broke or the source of their cash has led to a bullet in someone’s head. 

Love in this day and age makes new couples forget to assign duties revolving around money. In the past, it was always assumed that men took care of the ‘heavy’ bills like house rent, mortgages, cars and school fees.

Some old  fashioned men will tell you this was to ensure that they retained their position as head of the home. It then followed that women took care of the ‘softer’ bills such as paying the domestic help, buying foodstuff and clothes.

Modernity has taken over and now such allocations are based on assumptions. Usually, most couples base their assumptions and allocations on the optics of money and on ‘volunteering capacity.’ So, if the woman volunteers to pay the mortgage or the rent, the man will lean back and opt to pay for something else and in some cases pay for nothing.Same for women, they might decide that they will pay for zero for after all they are the primary carers of children.

Things get super murky if one spouse chooses not to work or is unemployed - these allocations get testy.

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People have been known to lose their minds upon discovering pending fees bills and houses about to be auctioned all because no one dared discuss the nitty gritty of how or who pays for what?

When they talk about having and holding – I think they should throw in the topic of having and holding joint bank accounts. For some couples, the word joint account is taboo because it means having full disclosure and expenditure.

Full disclosure especially about expenditure can cause pressure especially since it might involve explaining why one really needed that extra pair of shoes or dress or why that manicure cost that much. It might also mean explaining why a certain huge transfer mysteriously showed up in the account, or why a certain loan was granted to that non-paying relative.

Folklore is full of tales of couples who have lost their entire life savings due to trusting too much and having joint accounts. However, having separate accounts does imply lack of full trust but when it comes to money it is always better to err on the side of caution.

So I hope that the next bridal advice sessions will have information that goes beyond mwanaume ni wa tumbo mbili (a man has two stomachs) or mutumia ni gutumia (a woman is all about keeping quiet) or saying his money is our money but my money is his money.

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