Relationships, money and power

For the longest time now, I have always advocated for:

1. Not dating/marrying for money; and

2. Dating/marrying someone who’s financial position (my reference to one’s financial position is on a personal/individual level. Therefore, wealthy parents or family do not apply) does not excessively exceed your own.

A dominant line of reasoning in most African societies, is that, it is a man’s duty to provide for his wife and family, be the breadwinner and the head of household. What this logically translates into, is that the man should be financially superior than his female counterpart. In addition to that, in most African societies, there is a high proclivity towards materialism, and this has driven many men to aspire to be rich and many women to aspire to ‘bag’ rich husbands and rich boyfriends. There is nothing wrong with wanting to marry wealth, however, when the financial dynamic between the man and the woman is heavily imbalanced, various issues arise.

I have drawn this conclusion for a number of interconnected reasons. The notion that, with money comes power, is of a common understanding. Having money affords people with a certain level of power, which is unfortunately abused in most instances. Whether it’s being abused to circumvent rules and regulations that apply to the ordinary citizenry or to gain some sort of leverage over another person, for the sake of an ego boost. As the case may be, the latter applies in relationships.

Patriarchy already affords men with an extra level of power, that women do not have within society. Combine that with a comfortable level of personal wealth, and the level of power skyrockets. Now, many of these men enter relationships and marry women who have not amassed the same level of personal wealth, or who have their wealth tied to these men. This gives these men leveraging power of the said women. Because it is in human nature for human beings to abuse their power, especially when their power is in excess, many men use the power gained from the financial imbalance and patriarchy, to feed their egos. Feeding their egos is often at the expense of their less moneyed wife/girlfriend. This is when men start to maltreat their female counterparts using various abusive and borderline abusive methods. Cheating, disrespecting them, talking down to them, never apologizing or taking responsibility for issues within the relationship, being excessively jealous, isolating them., the list is endless. Sometimes it even goes as far as resorting to physical abuse. These men feel at liberty to treat their wives/girlfriends as they wish, because they hold a great amount of leveraging power over them. They feel at liberty to cheat or mistreat them because: “Well, I took her on a trip to London, she should be grateful” or “I bought her the latest iPhone 7, she is indebted to me and all I do for her”. They feel at liberty to never apologize during arguments, because “I have created such a comfortable life for her, what the hell am I apologizing for”.

This is not the case with all men and relationships with a distinct financial disparity. This sort of thing is quite specific to the man in question. Some men allow power and money to corrupt them, some do not. However, the reality is that, most men are corrupted by money and power. In spite of that, the likelihood of that being the case if the woman had her own personal wealth, is quite slim. The man would not have as much power over her. He would not be able to buy her material items that she cannot provide for on her own accord. Therefore, he would have no warped recourse to hold over her head when he disrespects her. He would not be at liberty to mistreat her, because he can afford to take her on trips, because she can afford the same too! So just on that basis, he would be forced to respect her. He may exercise power over her by resorting to strict gender roles and patriarchal values, however that is a topic for another day.

Drawing back to the first paragraph, it would be wise for any woman to amass her own comfortable level of personal wealth, instead of seeking to be taken care of, by virtue of a man’s wealth. Given that men are prone to abusing their power derived from financial imbalance within a relationship, the best solution is to close the wide financial gap that exists. Balance the uneven financial dynamic, reduce the level of power that the man has, and extract your due respect as an equal in the relationship.

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