By Chioma Gabriel
A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.(Ecclesiastes 10:19 )
A common question has often been asked. Does money matter when it comes to love? This is a one million naira question that would always attract all manner of answers. But as many often would say, love is not enough in a love relationship. We are yet in another season of love and times are hard. Will cash crunch frustrate the funfair that usually accompanies Valentine Day?
Valentine’s Day only comes once a year and if you don’t already have a token of appreciation for that special person in your life, you better get moving because you have less than 24 hours before Feb. 14. In the past years, Valentine’s Day was often celebrated with pomp and pageantry, just like Christmas.
Weeks before the D-day, radio stations played more love songs and Television stations showcased dramas that had the peg of love. Even now, love songs are on the air but would whispers of sweet nothings be enough to hold the day? Men and women show appreciation to their loved ones by buying gifts. But then, how do you celebrate love where there is no money?
How do you celebrate love in a depressed economy where probably you have not received salary for months and you have been borrowing to survive? How do you celebrate love when a lot of family responsibilities are hounding you? The school fees are still waiting to be paid or maybe your rent is due?
“I love my wife”, says Okezie who lives at Ikeja. “I don’t need a Valentine’s day love for my wife to know I love her. Right now, I have serious challenges that have even affected me as a man. Let me ask you, are you aware a man’s manhood stops functioning when he has serious financial problems? That is what I am facing today. I have not had sex with my wife for over one month. Since this year, nothing has entered my pocket. Business is lull and my rent is due. I have been pleading with my landlord to have patient and give me more time. And here you are talking about Valentine. My manhood doesn’t even function and I’m worried sick about it. I’m too depressed about my finances to talk about love”
Okezie is not the only person experiencing this. All over Nigeria, workers are being owed. Businesses are suffering. Companies are folding up and workers are not living up to family responsiblities. Many people are not in the mood for love let alone Valentine. Even those who work in banks and oil companies are experiencing the lull. Austin Iloanya, a banker said that though his wife knows he loves her and the love is not in question, she expects to get something from him on Valentine’s day.
“ Have you noticed that this Valentine is different. You hear love songs but that is not enough. At least to fulfill all righteousness, I need to show special love to my wife. What makes it worse is that this Valentine day falls on Sunday when I will be home with my wife. I have no excuse. No hiding place for me. If it were a week day, I would have escaped to my office and come back in the evening but this will be a Sunday! My wife and I are young. We just got married and even though she shows understanding, at least I need to take her out, hang out with her in a cool spot.” But not everybody agrees.
Ismaila 42 said he has never celebrated Valentine’s Day.
“ I’m a Christian even though I’m from a Muslim family but I don’t believe that money and love should go hand-in-hand. Some people monetize love and that shouldn’t be so. Love is a naturally free-flowing expression of deep affection – as long as you keep money out of it. You know how hard it is to keep love alive. All of those steps and starts of a relationship are crazy making. When you add money issues, smooth seas can whip into an angry tsunami. When money gets in the way of love, it becomes a disaster. I blame people who mix love with money. When money is mixed with love, it tends to be an edgy subject especially at a time like this.
“ Not having enough money is a problem in itself. It creates worries. Sometimes having too much is even worse. For some people, having too much is worse. Most monied people have problems in their relationships. They move from women to women or from men to men. But you know that money can’t buy love. It’s merely a tool for trading. Your hard work will earn a paycheck to put a warm roof over your head. Money is an important aspect of our lives, one we must honour with a healthy balance between need and desire. Money has a place in our pockets but not in our hearts.”
Engineer Funsho agreed with Ismaila.
“ A good woman will be with you both in good times and in bad. Is it not the vows they exchange in marriage? For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer. But this Valentine, I’m indeed broke. I will have my wife prepare something special and share love with my entire family.”
In “A Moveable Feast,” one of the world’s great romantic novels, Ernest Hemingway writes of a struggling writer and his young wife living in Paris in the Twenties. They are madly in love and horribly broke. Despite their hardship, they are having fun, learning life and starting a family. Together, they are a team on equal economic footing. They face their challenges together. Together they survive. These experiences are the foundation of their relationship. True partnership is about love.
Joshua, an economist believes financial difficulties will flare tempers and put people, especially the bread winner on the defensive.
“Financial difficulties are never tender. It’s not something you joke about. One of the greatest fears in the life of man is fear of poverty. Doubt, fear and anxiety can easily upset the balance of your harmonious relationship. You begin to trust each other less. Disappointment may curdle the cream of your affection. Fear poisons faith in each other.
“Money arguments may cover up deeper problems and feelings of shame or inadequacy. A financial fight is often hiding and confusing other issues. In these days of financial chaos and joblessness, a strong couple need to be careful to survive the economy and protect their loving bond.”
The Washington Post of Sunday, February 5, 2006 published an article written by Michelle Singletary where she pointed out that money may not buy love, but fighting about it will bankrupt your relationship.
“ How is it that people can proclaim to love one another, sleep with each other, and even have children together, yet they won’t do what it takes to stop fighting about money? I know why. Couples fight about money because they have “issues.
“Perhaps your husband was overindulged as a child. As an adult, he feels entitled to the best this world has to offer, regardless of whether he earns enough to pay for it all. Or maybe your boyfriend grew up not having much of anything and now worries all the time about having enough. The result is that he’s so frustratingly frugal that when he pinches a penny, he dents it. “It’s the lack of communication and compromise that torpedoes relationships, not a lack of money. Many couples think that if they made more money, their financial issues would go away. They wouldn’t. The problems would just become more expensive. Once you move past the dating phase and decide to marry, it’s time to change your financial relationship with your boyfriend. It’s time to be as open with him about your money as you have been with your heart — and everything else, for that matter.”
Iyabo, a lady in her 20s and still single said she would want her fiancee to give her a gift this Valentine.
“ He has been doing that and I expect much more. If he doesn’t have money, I ought to have known by now because we are engaged. Once you get engaged, a man ought to come clean about everything financial,his credit history, debt load, income, retirement plans. Discuss everything. It’s vital that you exchange your views and values about money before you exchange wedding vows.
“ That is the mistake many people make. You don’t pamper a woman at the beginning and then start slacking when the relationship gets serious. I know discussing money isn’t always easy. But it is important to do so if you are in a serious relationship.”
Francesca, 26, legal practitioner said money is important in a love relationship.
“ My husband and I had issues about finances before marriage. We have been dating a for some time and things were getting serious. We were talking about getting married. Well, we found we have very different points of view on finances. My concern is that he became very upset that I felt differently from him and refused to compromise.
“More money can mean more love. Now wait a second, I’m not saying that the amount of love you feel for someone should hinge on the amount of money that person has. But, it is easier to be happy in a relationship when finances aren’t a stress or in your relationship. And more cash flow normally means less financial stress. So, it’s not the reason you should fall for someone, but more money can make love a little easier.”
Her colleague Tinuke agreed with her.
“Money is the number one reason couples fight. And while there’s no way to guarantee that you’ll never fight with your honey over money, a good way to minimize money fights is to be on the same page in terms of financial philosophy. If you’re a saver, partner up with a saver so you’re not constantly nagging your man about his spending. If you’re a spender, being with another spender will probably mean way less arguments about cash. Finding a partner who handles money the same way you do will mean a lot less fighting and a lot more loving.
“If you and your beau value things like Valentine’s Day, you ought to have been planning for it like people plan for Xmas so that no one gets disappointed”.