By Joy Ehonwa.
“No romance without finance”. This phrase used to fly around during my University days – in Christian circles, no less. Of course it meant that love could not be expressed without money and, being the naive little romantic that I was, this was blasphemy. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand the importance of money; I probably did more than most, having been working and earning since age 14. I just didn’t see what it had to do with “love”; neither did I understand why a man needed to shower me with money and gifts to prove his love. I mean, couldn’t we just talk about it, and cuddle?
Of all the testaments to my greenness, one memory in particular has never left me. It was January of 2005. I’d written my final exams in December, and defended my “project” that January, but with NYSC a good 7 months away, I couldn’t bear the thought of going home to burden my parents. So while I hung around in Benin hoping to get a job, I stayed off campus with an older friend. Unfortunately, without an NYSC certificate, the job hunt was taking longer than I’d anticipated, and I was running out of what little money I had. I never complained and remained as cheerful as ever, but my hair, in its natural glory, told a different story. My friend knew I rarely wore it that way, so after asking me day after day when I was going to fix it, she eventually figured out that I didn’t have money to get a weave.
She was furious. She couldn’t comprehend how I could be in a serious relationship and not have money to make my hair. The blank look on my face only enraged her further, and she told me to collect money from my boyfriend to make my hair, or she’d send me out of her house. Of course I didn’t believe she would actually throw me out, but she was so upset I had to do something. I started building up courage to do the unthinkable; ask a man for money. After spending the whole afternoon pacing and muttering to myself, evening came and boyfriend arrived. As soon as I saw him all my courage evaporated. It was just painfully ridiculous to me; he was a student like me – scratch that – I had finished and he had one more year of medical school to go. Where did she even expect him to get money from?
We sat and talked about other things while my friend kept giving me evil stares from the kitchen. Petrified, just before he left, I reached for my “Delta mind” and told him I needed money to make my hair. He asked how much and I told him. He was back the following day with the money, and while my friend was ecstatic about her achievement, I was miserable beyond reason. It just wasn’t cool, I thought.
Needless to say, I have come a long way since those days. After driving my husband nuts and having to listen to him say: “Joy, stop being a man, be a woman and let me take care of you” one million times, I’m learning to spend my man’s money without feeling funny.
As important as it is to learn how to receive, it is even more essential to learn how to be self-contained, and how to give.
While it may be obvious that a woman who can’t seem to stand on her own two feet without leaning on one man or the other has issues, if you find yourself constantly budgeting and making shopping lists based on money you expect to get from a lover, you need to step back and assess your life. The same applies if you always receive from him, but have a hard time giving.
Gracefully allowing yourself to be pampered by your man is an art every woman should learn, but so is generosity. So here are a few tips for starters.
1. Don’t hoard your phone credit. Call him instead of waiting for him to call you all the time.
2. Don’t forget class. Which includes uninvited and voluntary generosity. Take him out to dinner and pay for it (no, men don’t mind being taken to dinner). Meticulously return stuff he lends you. If you borrow his car, fill his tank before you return it. When he takes you shopping, don’t raid the entire store. Even when he says you can call your folks long distance on his contract line, don’t run up a bill.
3. Buy him gifts. Regardless of whether you’re poor and he’s rich – just try, even if you have to pay with the money he gave you the other day. True, Miss Gorgeous, you’re a gift to him yourself, but the idea that no other gifts are required must be banished from your brain forever.
Every woman should master the art of giving in relationships. Girls who are always on the take never operate from a position of strength, and they often run into trouble as they get older. That’s not who you want to be. I’m not endorsing the acts of a desperate girl trying to buy love, but those of a generous and thoughtful woman expressing pleasure in her man – no strings attached.
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