Money has, over time, been the downfall of many marriages and relationships alike.
From fighting over little money coming into the household to fighting over where the money goes, it never is easy for many couples.
For many couples, financial transparency becomes a problem within a marriage setting or relationship.
In the traditional African setting, a man has always been viewed as the provider in the family. He makes the money and then buys items for the household or, depending on the culture, the man gives the money to the woman who will then buy household goods.
But with the progression the world has endured over the decades, even the woman is a big player in the family’s economic cycle and is a big earner herself; she too provides for her own.
Because men and women today are both key players in providing for their families, we might be made to believe they have less financial woes.
What we do not consider is that there is a monster, financial unfaithfulness, lurking in between them and causing friction.
As much as trust is the backbone of any relationship, couples vie to gain some trust from each other where money is concerned, and while most people think that it is fair for both partners to know each other’s income and how it is spent, many would still love to hold back.
In an impromptu and random survey in Gaborone, some people said that they believed it was right that both partners know each other’s pay while others answered in the negative.
However, though the respondents believed that partners supposedly should know their income, they themselves would not really be that transparent where money is concerned.
Most men answered to the effect that their income is some form of security in the household. They believed that if they earn less than their partners, they would lose respect in the homestead because “women who earn more or are more educated treat their partners with less respect if that partner earns less”.
“The money issue is very sensitive,” said one married respondent who asked for his identity to be withheld ‘because of the wife’. “My wife knows my salary range and there are times she somehow finds out how much was paid into the account, but I do not make it a habit to let her know because I want to avoid her being totally dependent on me and her dictating how I spend the money.”
Another married respondent, who also refused to be identified ‘to avoid inciting the wife’, said that he could only show his wife the money he has already withdrawn but not to go as far as showing her the statements from the bank.
The decision for him might have been made easy by the fact that his wife is unemployed, in that way he does all the providing.
The wife, according to him, is only given money for the groceries and her extras.
He attributes this to tradition.
He said dealing with the budget is his responsibility as he is the one bringing in the money.
Clearly, if both partners are earning an income, it would be more difficult for one partner to control the money.
Ikanyeng Segonetso believes that it is important for both parties to disclose their earnings so as to know where the blanket falls short.
“It clears a lot of doubts that might exist between them,” said Segonetso. “For instance, if one does not know how much their spouse earns, they might easily be fooled into living beyond their means or even landing the family in debt, which may lead to property being seized by creditors.”
He, however, concurs with the notion that for many men, money means control and power over women.
“Women degrade men who earn less than them, which is why most couples would rather not disclose or even talk about the issue,” he said.
Segonetso also said that other men also do not want to disclose their money to their partners because they want to spend it on mistresses and avoid answering as to what the money was spent on.
Though not married yet, he believes there will be no problem disclosing his earnings to his wife and even giving her access to his accounts.
“There will be no barriers or problems with that actually, after all, I am not a small house kind of person,” he asserted.
Idah Matsididi believes that when she gets married she will disclose her financial status to her husband.
“When you get married, you become one, it is not worth it keeping it a secret when you are going to have to plan things and actually do things together,” said. “It is your right to know where the money goes lest one of you is spending it on a concubine out there! That is where trust comes in in a relationship. You are presented with an opportunity to be one person and actually live as one person.”