11 December 2012

Uganda: Love - Would You Rather Cry in a Benz

Love makes the world go round. But for all its power, some people say you cannot enjoy it without money write Rebecca Nalunga and Hope Sande

Praise Akankwasa, a secretary, says she would rather "cry in a benz than laugh on a boda boda." "I cannot stay in a relationship with a poor man however loving he is. Everything in life is run by money, and for that matter I can endure an abusive relationship with a rich man," she says.

Harriet Ategeka, who works as a tailor also says she would marry for money.

"Poor men are temperamental, domineering and easily take offence whereas rich men are always happy.

So I would learn to live with a rich man so that I can keep relating with him, rather than marrying a poor man, however, nice he is," says Ategeka.

Smart girls marry money

"It is easy to fall in love... but some men use money to 'use' you and dump you," some elderly aunt probably offered that advice at some point. You vowed to marry only when you found "the right one," and his bank account would not be a factor.

That is certainly the prevailing view of marriage: It is supposed to be a love match between two people who somehow sense that they are meant to be together forever.

However, many young people feel it is time to redefine what marriage is.

"Well, if people marry for love, when they are not in love anymore, they will leave," argues Jamil Kibirige, a graduate of business administration.

"I would rather be rich in an unhappy relationship because I will get comfort from my wealth. There is a lot of pretence among poor people in relationships and such men live in constant fear of richer men luring their wives," he adds.

In the book Smart Girls Marry Money, the authors, Elizabeth Ford and Daniela Drake argue that a husband's paycheck is still critical. They say despite the gains women have made in the last few decades, they still earn considerably less than men (especially if they are mothers).

"We girls just have not come far enough or fast enough," they say. "We know it is important to take the long view of things, but it does not always work without money."

Ford and Drake particularly say women suffer economically much more than men when there is separation or divorce, or when he gets another woman.

"If the marriage crashes," they write, "it is the women who are exposed to an extremely high risk of poverty." They urge their readers to look for a Mr. Right "who just happens to be Mr. Rich."

As Ford and Drake point out, romantic love is a relatively new concept. Throughout the past generations, couples got together for economic reasons or for pleasing the family. Much of the time, it was the parents who arranged relationships and marriages.

The idea of a bride and groom actually choosing to be together was considered rebellious, says retired anthropologist Proscovia Musoke.

"Arranged marriages are still popular, although they go on quietly, in many cultures, and often it has to look at how rich a family is," says Musoke. "So this is not new. The only difference is that girls are now choosing wealthy partners for themselves."

Better to marry for love

Rev. Peter Matovu, a counsellor at Nkumba University, says a marriage based on money leads to conflicts and divorce.

"It is a mistake to marry for money. This is just a material in a relationship," he says.

Matovu notes that some women want to expand their purses more than they do with their minds and hearts towards one another.

"You forget that what makes men rich is not money, but the spirit and one's heart," he says.

"Think more of a man's deeds than his money. In relationships, there are areas considered first, which I term as DDEM, (dating, decision, engagement and marriage) and are controlled by what I call IAARCTL, (interest, appreciation, acceptance, respect, confidence, trust and love).

Success in a relationship is based on the love of God," he says.

According to Gaston Byamugisha, a marriage counsellor at Kyambogo University, at a start of every life, it looks like money is everything but once you are married and more commitments set in, you realise that it is not everything.

"Women who marry for money are the ones you find getting sexual satisfaction from elsewhere," says Byamugisha.

Byamugisha stresses that people have to understand that beyond a nice car or any other luxury, you are living with someone all the time, and so one has to first consider love.

However, this does not automatically mean that every rich person is incapable of loving you, like the poor person. It is about personality and values.

"I advise the young women out there who are not yet married to follow their hearts, choose someone you know you can be happy with, not just for fun or luxury.

Happy people live longer, are healthier and more productive. Money will always buy all the other things, but not happiness," says Byamugisha.

Just like they say, money can buy a house not a home and a wife.

Mark Kigozi, a pastor at Real Life Church, agrees: "In most cases, people who marry for money will look for love in other places and that is why we have cheating couples today."

Quick self-help tips.

You should have the money conversation if marriage is where your relationship is headed. If one person in a relationship is unemployed, it puts the money conversation on the table. There are some couples who never talk about money before they tie the knot. See this as a positive way to get this conversation going between the two of you ahead of time.

Tackle your thoughts about money. For instance, do you think that men should make more money than women? If you do not have your own money coming in, do you feel less than your partner? What do you want to spend money on? Your shoes and clothes?

Be honest with yourself about your thoughts and fears about money. Once you know where your thoughts and ideas come from, you can have better communication with your partner about how being unemployed will affect your choices together. Even if you are both working now, it does not hurt to see how the two of you would handle the situation.

If you find yourself in the predicament of deciding whether or not you will get married because of money, it is not going to automatically get better because you walk down the aisle. Make up your mind. Marriage is for better or worse.

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