Alice and I sat on the airy rooftop of one of my favourite snack bars sipping on some cocktail. This is the second time we are meeting in two months and guess why we’re meeting- money.
With two children from a five-year marriage, Alice and Dan have struggled to provide the basic things they and their children need to survive daily.
Alice tells me at times, only the children eat twice a day, lunch at school and an unbalanced dinner when they get home. They, on the other hand, have had to go to bed on empty stomachs on several occasions. “It has become a normal thing not to eat before going to bed,” the forlorn Alice recounted.
She said the situation is so dire that she’s had to sell off the very few clothes and jewelry she had in order to see the family through sometimes.
Dan works with a private security firm but his first class degree in business management only provides a shine on his CV. What he takes home, is not enough to ‘take him home’ to his wife and children.
Alice, with a degree in communication hasn’t been able to find any meaningful job since she finished university so Dan does everything. After all, he’s the one with the ‘promising future’.
Yeah…’promising future’, those were Alice’s words when I advised against their marriage. Yes I did. Because really, I didn’t think he could provide the kind of comfort I thought Alice deserved. She and her family are complete strangers to wealth and so my desire for her was to get a man who will ‘spoil’ her.
But who was I? Alice didn’t listen to my, well….unsolicited advice. They got married shortly after school. An unusual wedding it was, too ordinary, nothing fanciful, nothing to share because there was little to eat and drink at the reception. And I had to sponsor the car used to convey the bride and groom throughout the process because neither of them had the resources to do so. They called it love. I called it many other things in my head but did not have the courage to voice them.
My pain now is the innocent children who have had to endure the product of this unbearable love story. They didn’t ask for this and I feel it is so wrong that they are being made to pay the price for their parent’s lack of judgment.
As Alice sat across me at the table clutching her worn out brown handbag, I couldn’t help but say ‘I told you not to marry this guy. See all the trouble you have to go through. You look 60 already, even though you are barely half that age’
And her response was “I love him.” I couldn’t help but squirm. And I have been squirming a lot these days.
“Love?…well that does not put food on your table or pay your bills, does it”, I asked her in return. But obviously she couldn’t respond.
I dropped the 4,000 cedis on her lap. That money is to help pay for their rent. The rest will be used to purchase new school uniforms, books and other stationary items for her children.
When she left, I decided to stay back for lunch. The waitress had just brought my food when an old man and a young lady, probably in her late twenties walked in.
Naturally all eyes were fixed on them. The lady looked gorgeous – drop dead gorgeous. Her crimson red bandage dress stood out for me. But the men couldn’t help stealing glances at her curvy hips supported by long stunning legs. Of course, the teasing cleavage was a bonus.
The old man noticed everyone was staring at them. He took her hand and planted a kiss on it to seal the jealousy. That was when I noticed the huge diamond ring on her ring finger. She was married.
And I thought to myself, that’s more like it. Unlike Alice, the lady might not lack anything material as long as the marriage holds. Her children, in case she had any, will not go to bed thinking about what to eat the next day and she of course has little to worry about when it comes to money.
At a certain level, women like me don’t fall in love. It isn’t that we are materialistic or we love money, no…we only refuse to walk into poverty with our eyes wide open.
Wait…before you decide to judge us, just hold on let me break this down for you. You would think we are small-minded or gold diggers but how different is marrying for love different from marrying for looks or other things?
Let’s take Alice’s case for instance, she is attracted to Dan’s brains, physical attributes and perhaps what she believes is love so even if she’s dying she’ll stay in a marriage that only drains her. So Alice chose brain over money but women like me choose money over love.
Alice grew up with no silver spoon in the family. Her life has been a painful struggle between lack and want. And if there was a breakthrough with food, clothing, it was never enough, nothing close to what her mates enjoyed. The wants of life were as scarce to Alice as teeth are to a hen.
Personally, I grew up in a troubled home. My parents always had problems with money and always argued about it. The lack of it and the destabilisation it brought to their marriage, turned my father from the lovely man he was into an alcoholic and a womanizer.
Many nights after the fights, my father will end up sleeping in the living room with my sisters and I. Eventually, they divorced when I was 13. Since then, I vowed to work hard and ensure that I do not become a woman like my mother or marry a man like my father.
I struggled through university but got a job at an insurance firm just after my national service. It was at that firm that I met my husband. He is 15 years older than I am and had a child but had never been married. He worked in a thriving insurance firm he had set up 19 years go. He is smart, responsive to my needs, funny, attractive and of course had money. That’s a full package right there, and I didn’t hesitate to say ‘yes’ when he proposed after sometime of friendship.
I was doing fine financially when we met. But being fine wasn’t what I wanted. Being fine meant I still lacked financially – something I didn’t want to experience. I needed to ‘insure’ my life, my future and those of my unborn children too and no better person than a man owning an insurance firm could do that.
My life changed a lot when I married him. I used to login to my bank account frequently checking my balances and didn’t do anything which would drain my account more than necessary.
But I haven’t checked my bank account in years because I know that he is taking care of it. We never have any money-related stress. I never have to worry about bills, every one of them and those of my children were catered for.
The benefits definitely outweigh the drawbacks. My husband travels a lot and that’s my little headache. His work gives us a lot of flexibility but that also means that he’s away a lot of the time. Since my father had affairs outside marriage, I struggle with trust so my husband spending so much time away from me, most of the time is a big issue but no bigger than the one like Alice’s poverty would bring.
I chose wealth and will never regret. This is what I wanted for Alice but she had other choices. Love she called it, poverty I described it. She should have chosen wisely. She could have chosen friendship, looks, love or anything but shouldn’t have compromised on security and a better life. One better than what she experienced growing up and that is money…yes, money.
Of course there are consequences which come with marrying a man like the one our drop dead gorgeous lady walked into the bar with but what would you prefer? A man who has it all and can provide your needs or one who plunges you into poverty you almost cannot recover from.
Our drop dead gorgeous lady like me, have stability. Even if this man is boring or not good in bed, we are assured of security and even friendship. So you can say we are gold diggers but we know that we married to survive.
By Naa Sakwaba Akwa