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Openness between couples

 Photo: Courtesy


Early this week, we had a group discussion on how much spouses should open up about their finances. Is there need to reveal everything touching on money from a partner?

Is it good to be like an open book whereby your partner knows how you spend every cent of your money?

This topic usually draws a lot of interest and debate is quite lively. Most participants were for being secretive about money. One man said the closest he has ever been open to the wife about his income is when he told her how much his salary was.

Any bonuses or extra income from other sources are his 'secret'.

He explained, "When she knew how much I earned, which was three times her salary, she took control of our household budgeting and ensured I contributed three times her input.

She did not even ask for my views. Perhaps if she did, I would have offered 90 per cent contribution and become truly open with finances."

A lady said, "It is the duty of a man to take care of his family, why does he expect me to chip in? If I tell mine how much I earn, he will shun his responsibilities and leave me with the financial burden."

I noticed one lady who seemed to be in deep thought. She listened to the debaters and just nodded her head. I invited her to say something.

"When you trust someone with your body and soul, why is it hard to trust the same person with something as valueless comparatively as money? For me, being transparent when it comes to money has actually handed me a blissful relationship.

My husband does not plan for my money. We bring everything to the table and budget. It is stress free."

The room was silent for a moment. Then someone asked incredulously, "Do you say everything including how much per diem you get?"

The lady calmly said, "I will tell him we were given such an amount and I bought A, B and C. Whatever money we had planned for me to spend at the trip, I can bring it back and put it in our investment basket or spend it the way I want. He knows I am prudent and he has no doubt that what I do is good for the family."

Most of my listeners who had extreme stands before the discussion heated up, mellowed and said they saw some sense. But how do you start opening up about finances when you have been secretive?

Take one step at a time. You can initiate a talk about a certain property you wish the family to acquire. Then state that you have some money in your sacco account and you can increase it threefold by taking a loan.

If he wonders how come you have saved so much, say something like, "Honey, you take care of most financial obligations in this home and that relieves me a lot. So I save the money knowing that we will need it for investment at some point."

Learn to be open in everything that involves finances. If you are sending money to your parents (this is one thing that ladies keep secretive), just mention that you are sending money for a certain project your parents requested.

Let him know that from your salary you pay your parents workers, their electricity bill and the like. That way he will totally trust you. He might look disinterested as you talk, but I assure you, he is counting his blessings and respecting you for being open. And he too will start being open.

He can kick it off by telling you about his investments and what made him invest thus. "That piece of land in town is for our children to develop when we have no energy to do things. It is their investment."

Isn't this better than not knowing about what your partner owns especially after he dies and you start asking his friends to tell you what they knew he owned?

But to get there, you must take the initiative.

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