To some men, asking their partner for financial help is to be weak. He would rather borrow from his fellow man to cater for the bills.
To some men, asking their partner for financial help is to be weak. He would rather borrow from his fellow man to cater for the bills. Some women, on the other hand, will not hear of their money being spent on bills. What they earn is theirs to keep. But with the hard financial times things have changed. There are bills to pay, writes Gloria Nakajubi
So, Umeme just dropped you a huge bill. The kids are on holiday and using everything at a go – the TV, music system, the computer and the fridge. Then there is that cooker you promised to stay away from just so you knock off a few figures, but because there are now more mouths to feed, it has to get back to functioning fully. There is rent, food, school fees for next term, shopping, pocket money and the list goes on and on.
You and mama Junior both work, but for some reason, you have always assumed full responsibility when it comes to paying the bills. She, as always, expects things to be as they have always been — you paying the bills. After all, traditionally, the man is supposed to fend for the family. But how reasonable is this idea? What works, anyway? Below, some married people share their experiences and ideals.
The back-up woman
Barbra Nakabugo says she would not entertain a “baby-sitter” husband. Her husband pays for nearly every expense in the house; she only presents her earnings when there is need for back up. Just in case the money for school fees falls short. Just in case he loses his job or he falls sick. “He is the head of the household like the Bible or other holy books say,” the mother of two says.
She has more: “Even if you make exactly the same amount of money, you do not spend exactly the same amount of money. I need sh30,000 for my hair, he only needs sh1,000 for a haircut. I need sanitary towels, he doesn’t,” Nakabugo argues.
She earns more
Because she works as a director of a telecom company, and her husband is only a teacher, Rehema finds herself in a tight spot. She pays most of the household expenses because her husband believes that she earns a lot more than him. He only pays their rent of sh200,000. She is quite frustrated and wants her husband to take more responsibility. She only puts up with his attitude for the sake of their marriage.
“Sometimes I deliberately don’t buy toilet paper and toothpaste, but he stays quiet till I end up buying.”
A Woman’s salary is hers
“How do I start using my own money to pay for water or rent, it would actually show that the man I got married to is not capable of taking care of me,” says Gloria an accountant.
Shea has an income almost comparable to her husband’s. She spends all her money on herself because she thinks her husband does not need as much pampering as she does. She likes to spend on makeup, facials and spa treatments. Her husband’s salary, in her opinion, is more suited for the expenditures of the house and its maintenance.
Big bills his, smaller bills hers
Ayebare believes it is her moral duty to take care of her two children. She will pay for everything in the house, as long as it directly affects the children and her; their clothes, their cartoon DVDs, their ice-cream and food and the maid’s salary. The “bigger” expenses like rent, utility bills and school fees, are her husband’s. In spite of working full time, she takes care of all the little house expenditures and makes sure that there is not a spot on her ‘ideal housewife’ reputation. According to her, it has worked well.
I am man enough
Patrick Kajuma who works with one of the auto stores does not seem quite bothered about the fact that he is the sole provider back home even if his wife works. “I can’t let my wife pay for any of the domestic bills unless she chooses to do so. I am the man, I take care of everything. I take her out and pay for her hair and make-up,” says Kajuma. “She can contribute if she wants, but if she doesn’t, I won’t complain.”
Kajuma says that way, if he spends the money on non-priorities and his wife grumbles, he can say to her “Well, its my money.” Some men worry that if a man cannot provide everything, his woman will get it from another man.
The 50/50 model
Harriet works at Barclays Bank. She and her husband like to share responsibilities. They do it in turns. If one pays the rent this month, the other does it the next. Other times each of them contributes half. On occasions when the family dines out, they take turns in paying the bill. “ It is about sharing with my man and that includes my money,” says Harriet.
For James Kiseka an IT specialist, it is about agreeing on how to manage your finances. He believes in a joint bank account to cater for the family bills. The other personal expenses can be covered, with the personal account. For Amos and his wife, they keep account of everything. He collects all the bills and notes down who paid what. At the end of the month whoever has paid less than the other compensates them.
Juliet Kateega, a counsellor at Makerere University Business School, roots for a joint bank account for bills. “Couples need to agree on how much of their incomes go to that account. When you have a family you love and respect, the question of who does what, ceases to matter.”
She, however, warns that problems are bound to come up if there is lack of trust, infidelity, lack of planning and outright jealousy. “A marriage built by two people who love and trust each other, has open communication and sharing,” Kateega explains.
So it does not matter who earns more, just do it. And quit complaining: The bills have to be paid. The children must play their computer games and eat bread!
What do you think?
Should bills be split equally in marriage? Or should we go with tradition that a man takes care of it?
Honey, I can’t pay the bills alone