I always believed that I wasn’t the marrying type but for some reason when I got to the age of 24 I somehow decided that it was the next thing that needed to be ‘checked’ off my life list or at least that it wasn’t such a bad idea. I guess some friends were getting married and having kids and all I had was a high-powered job and that didn’t feel like it was enough.
You could say I was in a mild state of ‘pressure’. This was reinforced by my dad’s little lecture about how the deadline for marriage for girls is “25” and that for boys is “30”. Apparently when he reached 30 still unmarried he was panicking!
I was at least pleased to find that he believed both men and women have a deadline and that the deadline is not too far apart. My dad knows that the fastest way to offend me is to imply that girls are in anyway lesser beings than boys!
So, in my mildly pressured state I started looking at boys in a more analytical fashion. The thing about money is that it rears its ugly head in many different ways. You don’t have to be talking about money to discover what someone’s beliefs about money are. Here are a few examples:
“This is my house”
I was visiting a boyfriend for a few days. To ensure we both had access to his flat the key needed to either be taken to work by the person who would be coming home earliest or be handed in to the porter that was in charge of the flats. On one occasion I suggested that he, rather than me, should get the keys from the porter and the response was “but this my house”.
He wanted that either I get home quicker or that I collect the keys from the porter because he was the master of his flat and shouldn’t need to go out of his way to collect ‘his’ key. This was strike one. I didn’t say anything. I looked at him with displeasure and in my head said, “This is strike one” – no one talks to Heather Katsonga-Phiri like that!
This was a sign to me that the person was possessive of what he owned and would make for a very bad financial partner. Possessiveness is a character that is very much ingrained in some people; if a man is selfish and possessive you shouldn’t even attempt to change them – move on – many fish swim the sea.
If you are not yet married there are many things a man can do to let you know if he is giving. A kind and giving man talks highly of his mother and his sisters; if he sees something that would be a good gift for someone he cares about, he says so, and if it doesn’t cost much he gets it. You should look for these signs.
As a teenager I was once “rolling around town” with a male friend and when he saw a disabled woman on the curb he said something mean about her and even at that age I knew this was a bad man. Good men respect women!
Kindness and the willingness to share is a good sign that your financial relationship will be smooth.
“Money is an area of marriage that can be used to develop good communications. It is a tool God has given you to learn a great deal about each other. For instance, just talking about the kind of home that you want to live in helps you to learn a lot about each other.” ~ Larry Burkett
For 2 years until early 2014 I wrote a weekly personal finance and business column for Malawi's leading media house, The Times Group. The target is middle-class, working African women.
This is a reproduction of the articles that appeared in the weekend edition of Malawi News.