When money problems knock at the door love flies out of the window

02 Sep 2018

Romantics believe money can’t buy love, but Botswana official statistics suggests it sure can help a marriage — at least to a point.

The perceived positive relationship between a stable family income and marital bliss is no secret. This may help explain why many married couples untie the knot whenever the country’s economy takes a knock.

Although there has not been any research on how Botswana’s economic performance affect marriages, statistics suggests that Botswana’s economic tremors create matrimonial fault lines a year or two later when the effects are finally felt by citizens.

Botswana has been amongst the world’s fastest growing economies in the world over the past 40 years. The country’s real GDP growth averaged nine percent between 1965/66 and 2005/06 – an outstanding and uncontested economic performance record of any country in the world.

The economic miracle however suffered its first blot in 2009 when the country experienced its first negative growth of 3, 7 percent. Indications are that the effects only hit home (pun intended) two years later when the country recorded its highest divorce rate in the country’s history with 971 cases.

The economy however recovered in the following year and it seems love and peace returned to the home front until 2015 when the country’s economy suffered its second negative growth of 1.7 percent. The effect on the country marriage was apparently felt the following year with devastating effects. Botswana divorce rate spiked to an unprecedented 1,301cases, the highest in the country’s history.

Sethunya Mosime, Senior Sociology lecturer at the University Of Botswana says like many marriage problems, lack of communication is often the underlying issue. “The economic situation is putting stress on marriages and even relationships at every income level, a lot of people find themselves being cut off at their jobs and unwelcome lifestyle changes have become necessary for many people. Major economic worries affect both individual well-being and the couple relationship. The apprehension connected with unpaid bills, credit card debt and possible job or home loss seems to bring out the worst in people. Anger about money spills over into other areas hence communication breaks down. Differences in money habits begin to surface and blaming each other erodes affection”

For most couples, power plays often occur when: one partner works and the other doesn't; both partners would like to be working but one is unemployed; one spouse earns considerably more than the other, rarely do both earn exact same salary. But whether the amount comes to P50 or P500 .00 more a year, the same problem can arise. Sometimes the spouse bringing in the most money can feel entitled to the most say.

Kabelo Kgopo an accountant at Skip Hire in Gaborone says misuse of funds whether in marriages or relationships always causes a lot of strain. “Even for couples on solid financial footing, money is a fraught issue; I think it is the number one source of most marital fights. Power struggles and unchecked spending are the kinds of stressors that breed secrecy and suspicion between couples.”

Phemelo Selepeng a customer consultant at BTC in Game City; she says debt is increasingly adding to the strain “In our era of immediate gratification, the emphasis is on what we can get now. We're constantly exposed to messages from media and popular culture that say purchasing the right product will make us happier. Couples feel compelled to buy more cars, gadgets that they need before realizing the extent of their debt.”