For Richer, for poorer
“I take thee to be my wedded wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, …”
These are the traditional promises that most couples make to each other when they are joined in holy matrimony.
And it is no surprise that the first two promises, “for better, for worse …for richer, for poorer” follow each other in the manner they do, because all-too-often, as researchers have found, one of the major grounds for divorce is money issues.
So, as many young people take the plunge to commit, Voice Woman sought the opinions of married women to find out how couples with different approaches and attitudes to money manage, and how they tackle individual debt.
Neo Gaseitsewe, 29, Gaborone
It’s comical that somehow people almost always end up with someone who has a completely different relationship with money than them.
This is the case in my marriage, we are similar in that we are both responsible with finances, however, I’m more risk tolerant and believe in spending money to make money whereas my husband is meticulous; he plans and saves.
I’m high maintenance and I enjoy spoiling myself, while he is content with a haircut and a cold beer, however, he will save for expensive electronics.
This has given us some teething problems as newlyweds because, as human beings, we tend to think our approach is the only correct way to do things.
It has been helpful to communicate about finances in a calm manner without arguing, in order to understand what we each value and to realise that the other is not wrong, just different.
However, when it comes to long-term financial goals, we are on the same page and are willing to make sacrifices to achieve the goals.
It is better to be completely open and honest from the beginning. I am very ambitious and I am risk tolerant and this has led me to entrepreneurship.
I got married right in the middle of the pandemic, with a start-up that was in debt and barely able to cover bills.
I believe it is absolutely necessary to disclose one’s financial status because it helps my partner to understand my attitude towards money.
I have found that having full disclosure while planning for the future is helpful because it gives us an accurate view of where we are financially, and what we need to do in the present in order to become debt free, gain financial freedom and to build wealth.
We have a shared leadership approach to managing our life and that includes finances.
We look at our individual strengths and weaknesses and we assign roles based on who is stronger in that particular area, sometimes the roles are switched depending on circumstances.
We have joint expenses, savings and investment accounts as well as separate personal accounts for funds that we can spend without consulting each other.
I generally manage short-term expenses like bills, groceries, childcare and school fees.
He manages savings and our long term finances like investment accounts and funds for big projects.
All the planning is done together and there is complete transparency.
There is full disclosure except for our personal accounts activity, which we chose to keep separate to maintain a sense of individuality.
Naledi Pheto, 47, Gaborone
In our culture, there is what we call ‘morero’ (consultation). This is the secret to a successful marriage.
Certainly money issues can only be resolved when a couple appreciates and respects the value of this age-old custom.
While a marriage is the joining together of two independent-minded adults, the union itself teaches one to be selfless, considerate and have a sense of compromise since the two work towards a common vision.
Communication is also key; without it the marriage can easily degenerate, leading to disunity and conflict.
Sitting down with one’s spouse to discuss various responsibilties within the marriage goes a long way in sustaining a happy marriage; secrets destroy marriages.
Of course there will be instances where one might need to help their extended family and, with proper communicatin and consultation, there shouldn’t be any issues.
Anna Lebang, 57, Mogapi
I was blessed with a happy marriage until money issues reared their ugly head. My husband worked while I was a housewife.
Though he was the one earning, I was the one in charge of finances; he trusted me to take care of the household.
He also accomodated my habits and hobbies as much as I did his. Marriage is about sharing a life, thus the money was ours, not his.
In fact, he knew I enjoyed shopping and would even buy clothes for me. I also would accommodate his hobbies.
He is not with me now because as I said prior, when a third party was introduced into the marriage, he abandoned his responsibility as the head of the family; a provider.
Improve the relationship with your partner
Financial conflict is a good predictor of family breakdown and divorce, more so than any other source of conflict (Dew & Stewart, 2012).
Financial strain is associated with increased arguments in the home and decreased time spent together by couples (Gudmunson et al., 2007).
Many relationships experience financial conflicts at some point or another due to job loss, illness, recession, or pregnancy. Couples need to understand how to cope with financial stress.
Financial therapy allows for improved communication, which can help buffer against financial pressure and improve relationship quality and teamwork.