Where were you when you first heard President Buhari’s response to the question posed to him by reporters about his wife’s comments regarding the state of his political party and choice of appointees? Well, as for me, I had just taken a sip of my first beer after a long day at the office. In case you missed it, here is his direct quote:
“I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen, and my living room and the other room.”
Hmmm! There is a Yoruba proverb that loosely translates to, “When you see something that is too incredible for the eyes, you look at it with your mouth.” and that was my exact reaction to his statement. My jaw dropped to the floor in disbelief. “What is this man saying”, I thought to myself. With my mouth still wide open, I turned to look at the other gentlemen to my right and my left. “Am I the only one seeing this? Surely, I must be hallucinating! What’s in this drink?” In true Nigerian fashion, alcohol fuelled commentary and debate erupted around me.
It’s bad enough that our President’s mind-set is stuck in the 1950s but he made the statement in front of the international press. Worse still is that he made the statement while on a visit to grovel for money and support from the world’s most powerful woman; another man’s wife for that matter. Since the President’s utterances, I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t condemned them as out-dated or outright misogynistic. On social media, some have even gone as far as to link his line of thinking to forced child marriages and similar social issues.
Lending my voice to the discourse, from a personal finance perspective, there are lessons that can be drawn from the situation. If you are a young man reading this, whether married or looking to be one day, don’t let our President’s statement influence your thinking about the role of a woman in your life. Your wife doesn’t belong in any of the rooms he mentioned. Yes, she is your helper, as the Good Book tells us but in no way is she inferior to you and if she does belong anywhere at all, it’s in your financial life.
If you dream of financial independence and you sometimes imagine yourself someday living a champagne lifestyle, hopping on your private jet to your homes in major cities across the world, let me share with you a reality of life. When many successful men ponder over their journey to riches and success, they will not deny, if asked, that their wives contributed immensely all through the way. The contribution may not in cash or assets but many of these men will agree that once they allowed their wives to walk side by side with them in achieving their goals, the journey become more tolerable.
In writing this article, I have mulled over my own short journey, pondering my actions and inactions based on what fate has tossed into my lap over the years and I’ve come to one conclusion in respect to this topic: “When a young man moves out from under his parents’ roof and his every action is no longer under the direct scrutiny of his mother’s eye, it is ideal for him to get married within a reasonably short period of time so he can be under the direct scrutiny of his wife’s eye.
Yes, I do also believe that a man should have a “season of exploration and adventure” so he can get somethings “out of his system” however, some actions taken during this period can quickly become habits and habits can dictate a lifestyle. Don’t agree with me? Then consider the practice of Sir Alex Ferguson who has been a father figure to many young footballers over the years.
Sir Alex had charge over young men who were earning more money than they knew what to do with and he knew from experience that they could very easily slip into a lifestyle incongruous to their footballing careers if they didn’t settle down and start a family as soon as possible.
I’ve compile a list of 5 reasons why your wife should be part of your financial life. I believe that your life partner should know EVERYTHING about your finances. The benefits greatly outweigh any benefits or pleasures you can derive by keeping one bank account secret or hiding your bank statements from her. If you have diligently chosen the right woman to spend the rest of your life with, she can add immeasurable value when it comes to achieving your long term goals. After all, your goals are her goals too.
She Will Check Your Excesses
Being married of course is not a guarantee that boys will not be boys, but the right partner, just like a good mother, will check your excesses and keep you on the straight and narrow path. Money your wife doesn’t know about will not be spent well. It’s just one of those principles that are irrefutable and you will come to realize that the expense or the enjoyment wasn’t worth it after all.
Even if she is the quiet type who doesn’t interfere with your routine and lets you hang out till early the next morning, there will come a time (unless you are a heartless mongrel) when your conscience will rebuke you for your selfish actions and you will be amazed how much money you can save just by making very subtle lifestyle changes like packing a lunch to work or coming home straight from work and your wife can help you make both of these happen.
Never underestimate the power of a woman’s intuition. It could be the difference between success and financial ruin. Many women have had an unexplainable feeling about a transaction or an individual that saved their husbands from suffering an insurmountable financial loss. If she doesn’t know your business partners or your business, then how can she help in this manner?
Reason and logic are the tools in the armoury of men and they serve us well most times when there is information to study, discern and analyse. Where there is little or no information, reason and logic cannot help and you have to go with your gut feeling and your wife is best equipped to support you in this way.
She Will Take Care of the Pennies
One of the more expressive verses in the Bible is Provers 17:12; “It’s better for a man to meet a mother bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his stupidity”. Well, seeing what I have seen these past few decades, I would it’s better to meet the fool and the bear than have to haggle with a woman. You simply cannot win! Just like a sports car is built to be aerodynamically efficient, women are built to bargain to the last kobo.
If you involve her at the appropriate times in your transactions, it is with the same vigour that she will bargain for you. I know some businesses where the men don’t talk about money or payments. They leave that to their wives and that works well for their companies.
She Can Save For Africa
A senior friend of mine shared a story. He came upon a sizable unexpected windfall and as he was up to date with all his major expenses, (estate service charge, kids’ school fees etc.) he knew that he would spend the money rashly if he didn’t do something tangible with it. He decided to give the money to his wife for safe keeping until he came up with what to do. He said to her, “Keep this money for me. I may need it later for an emergency in the future.” She dutifully collected the money and paid it into her account.
The weekend following that very day, the family had their traditional restaurant brunch and they went window shopping afterwards in one of the malls in Lagos. They came to an electronics store and my friend spotted a double door fridge he liked. He pointed it out to his wife who scanned the interior and exterior with an experienced eye and nodded her approval. She even said to him that the fridge they had at the moment was on its last legs and a new one would be nice. He summoned an attendant and went through the motions of haggling. He agreed a price with a Lebanese manager and before he proceeded to the counter to pay, he turned to his wife and said “I’m going to need to use some of that money I gave you. I don’t have enough in my account right now. I’ll pay the money I use back into your account on Monday.”
To his shock, his wife said no. “The money is for emergencies and not for fridge. When you get to the office on Monday, add the money you want to add and buy the fridge.”
Women can save for Africa!
She Is Your Encourager & Confidant
Sharing your long term financial goals with someone you care about can be one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Even if she doesn’t have a keen business acumen or she doesn’t know the inner workings of the industry you work in, a listening ear can be the difference between carrying on and quitting when things get tough.
Sharing details of your projects with your wife can also be beneficial because she will probably be more honest than others may be when giving you feedback. She will give it to you straight because deep down, she wants you to succeed and your success is hers also.
Enough Talk, Act Now
If you have not taken your life partner as your financial partner or like President Buhari, you are at the extreme end of the scale and subscribe to the notion that woman should be seen and not heard, you are missing out on a great resource which God has made available for you on your journey to financial independence.
Speak to your wife about the money you have stashed away in the account she doesn’t know about. Yes, the one with the chequebook you leave in the office. Tell her what you intend to use the money for and how it will benefit your family. At the very least, she will be relieved that the family has a safety net.
Share your concerns and challenges that you are dealing with in your business or contracts. She will willingly take the challenges as her own and together, you can work through them.
At the end of the day, it’s not always about getting “there” but about who you travel along the way with.