“Hell no!!!” She replied promptly. I had just asked a good friend of mine whether her husband knows her monthly salary and other entitlements. This friend is honest, nice and kind hearted. She is sweet and loved by many but I watched with hidden disbelief when she told me that when it comes to money, certain things are best left unsaid.

I have heard countless sad stories of working class persons; one of whom is my friend Mary (definitely not real name). She got married to a surgeon in 2010 and left the household finance to the man to sort out. His ability to handle money was as good as Nigeria’s attempt to rescue the Chibok girls. It was abysmal. However, she felt he was making progress at work, he has just specialized in paediatric surgery and seem to be upwardly mobile. He co-owns the hospital he works on the Island. To quote Mary, she said “Dickson, everything is fine. We are doing well. Jide is making a lot of money to take care of his family. They had just returned from a multi destination honeymoon that includes Bora Bora, Maldives and Seychelles. At the time of marriage, Mary was in her 2nd year in school studying Foreign Languages.

Fast forward many years later in the fall of 2015, we were chatting on twitter. I asked about her wellbeing and after we went beyond the cliché “I am fine’’, she began to tell me how they had made downward slides financially. She had just given birth to handsome twin daughters. She graduated in 2012 and after youth service, she got a job with a multi national where her multi lingual skills were needed. She earned an enviable income and made extras  from her many  foreign trips. She spent her money as quick as she earned them.  Jide was saddled with managing the entire household finances and also he sponsored their annual vacations and each of their kids’ school fees is a little shy of a million per session. She didn’t know that her hubby borrowed his equity contribution in the hospital.  The hospital was making a lot of money initially but lately, there has been a reduction in income and he was behind schedule in his repayment to the bank.  She didn’t know what her hubby was going through to ensure they maintained the high standard they had used to start the marriage. The bottom line is this: THEY NEVER DISCUSSED FINANCE AT ANY POINT IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP TILL THEY GOT MARRIED.

The interest on loan had compounded and the bank threatened to seize the man’s assets and freeze his account to recoup their money. She still earns as much as she did previously. However, in her office, the company would be relocating to Ghana before the 3rd quarter of the year due to rising cost of operations in Nigeria. According to her, The Ghanaian government demands that their indigenes make up a certain percentage of any foreign company’s workforce operating in their country. Consequently, to reduce recurrent expenditure, there is fear of mass lay off in her office before the proposed relocation.

I was silent and sober. I tried to empathize with her but I didn’t know how exactly to ask her why they didn’t talk about finances. Why didn’t they discuss and plan their collective income? Why didn’t Jide carry her along when he was applying for loan from a bank? Why didn’t they develop their financial management skills? Each of them could tell what the other would wear the next day but they didn’t have a clue about the other’s finances. I wanted to show I cared so I avoided asking her hard questions. I didn’t want to appear like a project supervisor; who expects you to know what he hasn’t taught you. I ended the chat on twitter and called her and I stopped by at her office the next day with a bottles of smoothies. We had a long walk. She managed a smile afterwards and gave me a warm hug.

Dear readers, does your partner know about your finances? Do you know your partner’s income? Do you plan collectively? If you answered no to any of the above, why?

Image via Clutch Magazine


  1. Iyanu
    I think it boils down to the lack of ability for partners to communicate. Yes they can talk about random mundane things, but they can’t communicate. Communicating can be hard but it is very necessary and gets easy with time. Partners have to be able to bare themselves to the other person. Very recently my boyfriend asked me about a medical issue I had and I told him I was too embarrassed to talk about it. His response was that ‘if after everything we’ve gone through that was how I felt then it was sad’.
    My 2 cents tho
  2. Iyanu
    I think it boils down to the lack of ability for partners to communicate. Yes they can talk about random mundane things, but they can’t communicate. Communicating can be hard but it is very necessary and gets easy with time. Partners have to be able to bare themselves to the other person. Very recently my boyfriend asked me about a medical issue I had and I told him I was too embarrassed to talk about it. His response was that ‘if after everything we’ve gone through that was how I felt then it was sad’.
    My 2 cents tho. Iy
  3. Ramatu
    What a shame! I think many people don’t get the memo that MARRIAGE IS A PARTNERSHIP! Obviously your friend felt entitled to her husband’s money but didn’t feel he was entitled to hers. They should have discussed everything and devised a way to maintain their lives. Now, their kids will have to pay for their lack of communication and planning. They are the ones I pity the most. But the hope is, they can start over. I hope the damage is not irreparable as it is now. I wish them the best.

    As for me, I believe in telling my spouse what I earn and knowing what he earns. We cannot be partners if we are not all in.

  4. LOST
    Well, my bae knows how much I earn and how it is spent. Although my wife just finished school and not working yet, there is always a limit to how we spend as there is an amount that is suppose to go into saving after taking out all “necessary” expenses, including house rent. She also calls me a better “money handler” and tough as it may be, whatever we can’t afford reasonably, we don’t go for it. What’s the point in living a fake life?

    Note: Even girlfriends in the past knew how much I earned. I do this so as not to give them false hope on spending.

    I’m still LOST anyway

    1. Seriously...
      Really want to give you kudos for how you guys are doing things.

      For someone who is supposed to be Lost, you are not doing too bad imho.

      1. LOST
        Dear Seriously,

        How LOST can a guy really be before you know he needs to be found?

        I’ve been LOST longer than I can remember. Sometimes, I also get trapped in the CLOSET and name cannot be BLANK!

        I need to be found.

        Kindly help find LOST!

    2. woyi_0c
      “whatever we can’t afford reasonably, we don’t go for it. What’s the point in living a fake life?”

      THANK YOU!

  5. Raymond
    Finances like any other discipline is a specialty people are not born with an acumen for as a matter of principle. A person might be naturally gifted with knowledge of it or might acquire sufficient training to understand it. Communication is therefore not the ultimate goal in achieving financial success as a couple. I for instance would gladly leave all decisions concerning finance to the Missus.

    Just last week a discussion I was involved in ended at the impasse that whether you like it or not, “The woman’s money belongs to her and the man’s money belongs to them both.” I don’t even know how to react to that mind-set tbh.

    I guess the point is always to analyse your unique situation and agree on a mutually beneficial approach to discussing finance as well as every other aspect of your relationship. Because some talk finance and are rewarded with a more satisfying bottomline each month.. others try to and the next discussion is settlement of property in the divorce and alimony.

    In Mary’s case for instance there is no guarantee knowing about the loan would have made her less profligate. Without the ability to see the future they would have continued living the life they could afford believing everything would remain copacetic. Perhaps then the blame wouldn’t be on poor communication but on ill-luck. who knows?

    1. Dickson
      Thanks for reading. However, the words handsome/beautiful means a person who is nice to behold. It is gender blind.
  6. I'm eclectic
    How about opening a joint account for household up keep. Opening so called trust funds and put in money no matter how little every month for each child towards education and upkeep. These are the things I hope to do with the spouse of I ever get around to settling down. Handling of finances is all about prioritising.
  7. Seriously...
    Wow. Not sure how to even react to this post. My husband and I discussed finances once we got engaged. We set the monthly budget together each month and set our financial goals together. We each know how much the other earns and hold each other accountable for how money is spent. Each major purchase or expense for the house has always been agreed on together. I want to believe that it helps keep us both in check and always on the same page. We each have our own money to spend or invest as we each see fit, but we also make sure that the family’s responsibilities are always covered.

    For Mary and her husband, I wonder if stereotypes about who handles financial responsibility did not play a major role in this. I feel strongly that for a marriage and family to work, there has to be openness, respect and communication about pretty much everything. Regardless of who earns more, or whether or not one is not earning, you have to see each other as partners. Both men and women have to see the family’s finances as everyone’s responsibility. The way the world works now, it just does not make sense to manage family finances any other way in my very humble opinion. In the end, you and your children will enjoy or suffer, so you all have a stake in it.

    I know that not everyone shares my views or experience, but in my marriage and others that follow this model, money tends not to be a source of conflict. We are financially more secure, less susceptible to shocks and happy that money is one less thing to argue about. Hubbs (at least this is what he has told me) has never felt that what he earns has ever affected my love or respect for him. I have certainly never felt that he regards me as less than a partner.

    I would really like to encourage anyone to sit down with their spouse and have the discussion. Let them know that you are not trying to control them or monitor them. Also be ready to be open about your own too.

    For those of you who are preparing to get married, finances, like gender roles, sex and all the other stuff is something you guys need to find common ground on. Please, talk about these things. Do not assume or leave things to chance.


      1. Larz
        I have always said that ppl who like to hoard money for themselves and keep their finances secret will usually end up losing. Not only does all those secrets hinder ability to trust, in the case of this womans situation, it allows bad habits to continue.

        In my limited experience, even if two people have similar weakness, one of them will rise above it if only they work as a team. With family and close friends, I am usually the saver, the shrewd one. Until I met my husband who is more financially conservative than I am, now I am the one in our marriage that encourages us to live a little.

        The reverse also applies, usually when two spenders who work together as a team come together, you will find that one of them will rise above their weakness and manage their finances. People usually hold each other accountable in team setting. That is why therapy for addicts includes grp sessions

  8. Od
    One way I know that marriage won’t work with someone is what we talk about with each other. When there are locked doors and boundaries in the other person’s life – that is, no-go areas in discussion – or I’m not willing to share certain bits about myself, then, for me, there isn’t a chance of marriage there.

    Granted that confidence is built over time, the decision to share one’s life with another is always a risky one to take. You can never be 100% sure what the other person will do with your confidence and trust until you’ve given it. So, the goal should be opening up: all the embarrassing little details and crazy heady victories. And some things should NEVER be ignored.

    If marriage is a union of lives, then the most impactful issues of life must be clear to each other. Finance is one of such issues. Kids (whether to have them or not) and parenting are another. Extended family. Religion or personal philosophy and worldview. Sex – history and perhaps expectation.

    I don’t get it when you keep things from a potential mate and then wonder why life is so hard later on in marriage. Better that you let them have a say from the get-go. Better that you get a say in their own lives from the get-go.

    Personally, I discuss everything about my life with someone I think I might end up with. Better that you left because you don’t want a part of it or don’t want that degree of involvement on your own part than that we started a life together and we don’t know who should be pulling when the other is to be pushing.

    Btw, I do know at least two situations where failing to reconcile finance philosophies mean a miserable home. I don’t envy the people involved.

    1. woyi_0c
      “When there are locked doors and boundaries in the other person’s life – that is, no-go areas in discussion – or I’m not willing to share certain bits about myself, then, for me, there isn’t a chance of marriage there.”

      OD-SAMA!! OHHHHH!! I’m not using my system so I cant do thee prostration picture thing. 🙁

      O.D. aka Original Doctorate

    2. n02_EFX
      “Personally, I discuss everything about my life with someone I think I might end up with.”

      On an unrelated topic, this is why I find it hard to move on when I meet someone I feel like i can marry and it doesn’t work out. It takes me YEARS to decide to trust people with sensitive info about me. But honestly, anyone who knows me knows I don’t like spending money ANYHOW. It’s so obvious I’ve been called cheap (out of jest, of course…before I spoil my own market).

      Although, i tend to be a little penny wise pound foolish. Just a little. Can’t hurt to flex small. By flex I mean, traveling to all the states in Naija where I have relatives so that i can get a feel of what life is like outside my comfort zone.

      If i want new cellphone it must not be more than 25k. If what I want is more expensive, I wait for sales. Heck, there was a time i could eat breakfast lunch and dinner with just 200 naira. It’s harder to do that now since I started working out…and prices went up.

      Also, have you had time to read the stuff I sent you?

      1. Od
        On that matter of moving on, we’re the same. It’s the consequence of giving all that you are. That kind of gift is hard to recall.

        You’re also right about finance. There’s a lot to say there for me and none of it is exactly necessary. Suffice to say that I’m a builder and a creator and I deal with money with that attitude. Money doesn’t make a good status symbol for me. It’s better as a tool.

        Wasn’t it, like, fifty years ago you sent those links? I can barely remember what I read there anymore. Refresh my memory?

  9. Nelo
    Before that ring gets to your fourth finger in church/court, discuss your finances. ECO 101-Money matters. Understand your partner’s money habits before agreeing to a 100% joint account (Is he a saver or a spender?). Don’t let Love blind you on this. Shine ya eyes. If you both earn money , room should be made for independent spending. I heard a woman lament on Radio that her regret on not earning money (her husband wouldn’t allow) is inability to send her Mum
    recharge cards. Come on, one should be able to buy a chocolate bar without the other partner scowling.
  10. Collins
    I think the fault lies in the way each and everyone of us is brought up by our parent in fiscal responsibility and financial management. For instance, during NYSC camp in Abuja, I met two girls who came to take passport and paid 3k each for 8 pieces of passport photo….and I was like amused, and I ask them why didn’t they inquire about the cost before taking or ask their fellow corpers, they just shrugged and was like what’s the Big deal..I happened upon another girl who believes its her God given right to travel out of the country once every 3 months on a two weeks vacation… In essence, what am saying is that, there are certain individuals, children of the elite, who have become used to certain lifestyles and are not bothered about the cost of things. They grew up with daddy providing everything, not bothering to know how daddy made the money. As such, a young man from a middle class background marries such a girl, the girl is not bothered about what he earns or financial management because that wasn’t the way she was brought up. All she cares is the the young man should provide all she wants for her and the kids. The young man in question, wanting to keep up appearances because he married the daughter of Hon Minister, begins to live above his means. Therefore, talking about finances should not start in marriage, but from the early beginnings of the relationship. That way, she may be sweet, beautiful and nice, but if she will wreck you financially, run away.
  11. Tosin
    That is serious mismanagement. No savings? Investments? They’re like Nigeria.
    I’m the type that doesn’t ask a lot of financial questions but it’s important to pay attention when the going is great, so as not to be screwed when the oil price plummets.
  12. Cee
    Err. Am I seeing a lot of people faulting Mary in this case? I think that both parties should be ready to plan and create a fanily budget together. Anything else is a recipe for failure and dare I say bankruptcy.

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