The recent story of Hassan Adeyemo who was said to have killed Sarah, his wife of over 24 years on the 21st of August 2023, in her home in Orlando, Florida, again brings to the fore, the unpredictable financial consequences of the Japa movement that couples hardly talk about or consider when relocating to the abroad. As the story and so many like it goes, trouble starts when the woman who was either sent to or brought to the abroad by the man begins to make more money than her husband and taking advantage of the laws of the land, which favor the woman sends him out of the house and leaves him with just the clothes on his back at an age when he is a bit too old to start life all over. The behavior of most of the women aside, I find it condemnable for men to view their wives as cash cows or businesses that they invest in by enabling her to relocate and paying for her studies in the hope that it will bring in an unending return for them to retire to just because they “made” her , after all the women also studied and worked hard to get to where they are even if their husbands provided the base capital.
The stories coming out of Nigerians in the diaspora are very disheartening especially with regards to finances and the havoc it is causing in many marriages.
I have heard of both men and women turning each other to the hands of the law so they could be rid of one another, putting CCTV cameras in their homes to record the activities of their spouses and instigating scenes that would work out to their benefit in the eyes of the law. I have heard of people whose spouses were refusing to work – The men, because their wives were collecting social benefits on their children, the women who receive social benefits from the government for the children and do not contribute towards the maintenance of the homes insisting that it is theirs to keep. Fathers who did the barest minimum in supporting their wives in the emotional task of parenting by not lifting a finger to help around the home, women who did not work but used their husbands’ earnings to support their family back home insisting that it was his load to bear.
There is a serious problem going on in our homes not only in the abroad but also in Nigeria and at the root of the problem is the word selfishness. People of both genders are increasingly becoming selfish and unable to give of themselves sacrificially and it is rather a sad thing to behold when you see people who should be a team pursue their own agenda often to the detriment of the other person and the marriage.
I like to identify myself as a refined feminist and by that, I mean I am all up for the rights of the female, but I don’t ever think she has more rights than a man. In my opinion both genders are equal and complement each other and that’s why I have a problem with the much bandied about saying- “a woman’s money is her money and the man’s money is our money”.
I understand the history behind the saying which came about because at the time we were growing up our fathers and husbands had more money than mothers and wives and the way they wielded power over their wives because of the wealth imbalance, made it important for women to have money of their own so they didn’t have to suffer abuse of any kind. But those times have since past and the reality in many homes today is that many women’s earnings are at par or even more than that of their husbands, making their homes dependent on what they bring, for the smooth running of the homes.
Money is a very touchy topic for everyone and more so in marriage especially because people who marry have different money habits and attitudes. I for one, was more of a saver whilst Mr Aisi was a good times guy, he spent his money as it came and now that he is gone, I appreciate the memories wrought from the times we spent and holidays we took as a family though at the time I chafed at the expense.
The truth is that the way the economy of the world is going, every partner must bring their finances to the table and work as a team. Very few people have the privilege of not working or waiting to discover their passion to the detriment of the person who works because the family has to survive. It makes a bit of sense if one person is not working because for instance they have to pay childcare and it will be cheaper for one person to stay at home to look after the children, but once the children start to go to school, it becomes imperative that the caregiver should contribute financially to the family upkeep especially now that people are able to work remotely.
I have discovered that in marriage He/she who earns dictates how it is spent and that He/ she who earns more, feels justified and rightly so about how they spend their money and finally that He/ she who earns less always feels slighted or resentful when the other party spends without their input or spends on what they term luxuries. I understand why the person who earns more feels justified in spending their hard earned money but I am yet to comprehend how some people ( male and female) will see their spouse suffering, unable to afford some things for themselves and will nevertheless buy luxury items for themselves under the guise of “I work hard I ought to enjoy myself” and the resentment the party who earns less feels, especially if in the past they had contributed equally or immensely to the family finances.
We must begin to talk about money even though most of us shy away from it. We must ask ourselves what our expectations for and from each other financially is, I remember someone asking a group of ladies for advice about her fiancé views that they split household expenses including rent even though the man was working and earned a decent pay and most women saying that it was a No No for a man to ask the woman to contribute towards rent and household expenses because a man that makes such a request is a lazy man who will eventually leave her to carry all the financial burdens when they get married.
My answer was and still remains that in today’s world it would be suicidal to expect a man to carry all the burdens of the house because he is a man and that’s what our fathers did, likewise it is unjustifiable that a woman carries all the expenses because she earns more than the man especially if she identifies as a feminist.
My candid opinion (even though I know that some marriages have managed to keep their finances separate and thrive), is that both parties should contribute to the family purse and also keep some part of their monies. I am aware that this advice works perfectly well if both partners’ incomes are at par and it is my opinion that in situations where the incomes are at a wide variance, both parties will have to work out what works for both of them, definitely the person with more income providing more towards the common purse.
As it is with everything in life there are pros and cons with keeping family finances separate or together and every couple must follow the path that works for them irrespective of what other people think but it is imperative that we have frank discussions about money before and during our marriages as we traverse the different stages of life because in the long run our finances have a huge part in making or marring our marriages.
Finally, if for any reason you are suffering from financial abuse, killing your spouse can never be the answer. Sit down and have a talk with your partner and if you can’t come to a resolution seek help and free yourself financially in legal ways available to you.