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Help that can hurt a union

BY Helen Ovbiagele

AUNTIE Helen, did you read the piece saying that the marriage of that popular actress whose wedding held here and abroad some months ago, may head for the rocks?” asked a young female reader over the telephone. ‘Yes. The piece said it has to do with the husband not keeping his promise of refunding to her, his own share of the wedding expenses.’ ‘That’s it, auntie.

I rather like the lady and I was happy for her that she had settled down. I didn’t know that she bankrolled alone, the lavish weddings. Poor lady.” ‘Well, it happens, although the story of a break-up may not be true of her marriage.’ ‘Would you support that sort of thing, auntie? Would you advise that a lady should foot all the expenses involved in her wedding?’ ‘No, I wouldn’t.’ ‘Ma, I have a problem at present, almost similar to that of that lady, and I would like you to advise me.

I have a fiance to whom I’ve been engaged for about three years. We have been saving up for a decent wedding. Our parents and relations can’t really help much, so we’re relying mostly on ourselves.’‘That’s how it is these days. Not all parents can help in a big way.’ ‘True, ma. My dad is late, so I have only my mum. The problem is that I earn much more from my job, than my fiance does from his business. I’ve saved enough money to foot the bill of our wedding alone, if need be.

My fiance is far from being able to contribute anything because he has siblings to train. I feel we should go ahead and get married on my money. Is this wise?” “What does your mum say to that?” I asked. “She said at thirty I’m old enough to make my own decision concerning that. She said I should do what my mind tells me. I’m confused. Auntie, should I bankroll this wedding?” “Can’t you wait until your fiance is ready, even if it’s half ready?” “Ah, ma! We’ve been engaged such a long time, and one’s not getting any younger. It’s time for one to settle down.

He’s thirty-nine himself.” “You’re both still young. What does he say about you footing all the bills?” “Auntie, I haven’t discussed it with him. I wanted advice from a neutral person or persons, since my mum didn’t want to commit herself to a decision on it.   What do you advise, auntie?” I chose my words carefully, since I didn’t know the caller, and we were on telephone. I asked if she and the fiance were indeed sure that they still want to get married.

She said ‘yes’. What about a small wedding to which the man can contribute his share without straining his pocket too much? ‘But auntie, my dream has always been to have a big white wedding with all the trimmings! Since I can afford it, why can’t I have my heart’s desire?’ I told her she can have her heart’s desire and bankroll her own wedding single-handedly, but how would her fiance feel? These are hard economic times throughout the world, and contrary to our culture, some men have to swallow their pride and allow themselves to be kept by their wives.

Yet, in many families, boys are still being brought up to be the major providers in the home. Some young men may say it doesn’t matter if their women keep them, and some may exploit their women, but underneath it all, their pride is eroded.   If a man suddenly loses his job or business and his wife has to step in to play his financial role in the family, well, they’re married, and marriage is for ‘better and for worse’.

If he had been a responsible provider in the past, his wife would still give him the usual respect as head of the home; knowing that he wasn’t enjoying the reversed role, and the ordeal is only temporary.Besides, a wife shouldn’t feel shortchanged when she’s spending her money on her own home. However, if the wedding is made possible only with the woman’s money, the man can expect some amount of disrespect from her, when the ‘honeymoon’ is over. It is in a man’s character to want to be respected and looked up to in his home.

Part of what makes him the ‘oga’ in the house, the world over, is his ability to look after his family financially. If he’s not able to, he becomes deflated, feels ineffective in the home, and low self-esteem begins to set in. To cope with these feelings, a man may become a bully, forceful and abusive to the wife and kids; especially if he has a wife with an acidic tongue who would, at the least instance, remind him that he’s a non-provider in the home, and as such, he should sit where she tells him to sit.

In many cases, this leads to violence as the man struggles to assert himself as the head. In his frustration at not having a job and discharging his financial responsibility, he could engage in unwholesome activities to get money. When his finances become bouyant again, he begins to seek the admiration of the female-folk. Aware of his low ratings at home, he seeks adventure outside, and among those who didn’t know him in his penniless days, and who would see him as a ‘big’ man. There he fritters away his money, and shortchanges his family. Some can even spend outside, what they have taken from their spouses.

More women are more loyal and committed to the family than men, and they are more sensible with money.   If a lady is more financially sound than her fiancee, she should curb that urge to sponsor an expensive wedding celebration, hoping that this would make the man remain hers forever, or that he would refund his own share of the expenses. In fact, asking for a refund would not only be embarrassing, it would trigger off endless quarrels which could push the union towards the rocks.   If he couldn’t raise the money before the wedding, there’s a slim chance that he can raise it afterwards.

The best thing is for a couple to plan their wedding according to what they and their families can easily afford together. A lavish wedding doesn’t necessarily guarantee a peaceful, blissful and fruitful union.   I have attended a few weddings, held during a church service, and where the reception was on the premises with food packs. The joy on the couples’ faces!   Barely a year later, you see them come for the dedication of their babies.

These couples look happy and contented with their lives, in spite of not having much. However, if a lady wants to pay for her wedding all alone, she should go ahead without expecting a refund. And for peace and the love they share to be sustained, she should remember always that the man is the head of the home, and he should be given his due respect even if he doesn’t have a dime. An expert says, underlying the reasons for most marriage break-ups is money.

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