“As a woman, you are better off in life earning your own money. You couldn’t prevent your husband from leaving you or taking another wife, but you could have some of your dignity if you didn’t have to beg him for financial support.”
― Ayaan Hirsi Ali
When I was growing up my parents gave me no choice about going to university to get a degree. Being a Nigerian (and living in Nigeria then) the only way to have a good life guaranteed was to have a university degree. My mother constantly told my two sisters and me that having a degree guaranteed women financial independence. My mother had a degree, was a housewife but ran a company from our family home. She had her own money. She would have been able to leave my dad if she needed to.
I know that since this advice, the world has changed and some say you don’t need a university degree to have a good life – but that is another post for another time. What my mother was trying to instill in my sisters and me is – a great education guarantees you a decent job if life deals you a bad hand. She taught us that you are always guaranteed not to stack shelves at Kingsway Supermarket to make ends meet.
My mother said those things to her daughters because Nigeria is a patriarchy society. So… say a woman decides she doesn’t want to remain in a marriage anymore, she is allowed to leave but she leaves the family home and her marriage with nothing. She takes nothing with her because the man owns the home and the kids. Most women who were unhappy in their marriages stayed in them because they had given up their financial independence to raise their kids thinking their spouses will do the right thing if things don’t work out. In saying that, some Nigerian women were able to up and leave – those who kept their financial independence by still working while raising their kids. and those who stayed at home but had a side hustle buying and selling stuff.
In extreme cases, women who had sacrificed their financial independence were left nothing to live on when their husbands died. Their husbands had either not made a will or excluded them.
Women giving up their financial independence after having kids is not really the Nigerian way anymore; Nigerian women have learned the hard way and don’t really make this sort of mistake anymore.
I’m not against women giving up their jobs to raise kids – I did it. I must confess that I did it without carefully thinking about what I’d do if it all went wrong with my husband John. But luckily for me, it did not go wrong. But, I would not do it again.
Without going on and on, the main of this post is to urge you to think carefully about the following questions before you give up your financial independence.
- If you stopped loving your spouse (and you want to get out of the relationship) are you financially independent enough to do so?
- If you are financially dependent on others (not just on your spouse, but on your parents, other family members, etc.) what would you do if they stopped supporting you? Do you have a plan? Would you be able to get a decent job?
- If you are a housewife, are you aware of the family’s finances? Are you on the lease of your property? Do you know how much you have in savings?
- Can you easily get back to work if the sole earner (for one reason or the other) can’t earn any more?
I’d love to hear from you on this sensitive topic. It is a topic that mothers need to talk more about.
Yvonne xxxDid you enjoy this post? If so please support us: like, share and comment!