• Women say they can't marry a man who cannot provide for them, while men feel obliged to.
• Women earning more than their spouses are deemed as likely to criticise their husbands and be disrespectful.
‘What’s the use of a man if he cannot provide for me?’ This is one of the many questions that makes or breaks relationships, marriages or partnerships.
If you are hoping to find a husband or a wife, you better be ready to discuss finances. But the big question is: Is the man responsible for taking care of the woman financially, whether they are husband and wife, or boyfriend and girlfriend?
Charity, 28, says most women want to be with a man whom they are sure will take good care of them: cater for their salon finances, meals when they go out, shopping sprees and gadgets, including mobile phone credit.
“I equate love to gifts. If a man gives me stuff, then he clearly cares about me. But if he is stingy, that's something else,” she said, adding that a relationship or marriage is based on money.
But Oluoch says a woman is expected to be submissive to a man. The man controls and is not necessarily accountable to her for his actions.
"To maintain this position, a man is required to pay all the bills and occasionally give a monthly allowance to his woman," he said.
“The woman's responsibility is to take care of the man and the home front, prepare the meals, raise the children, respect and honour him, and defer to him, even though she has a job.”
He also said that when a man takes care of the finances, it makes it easier for the woman to submit and revere him as tradition or society requires.
Janet*, a mother and a primary school teacher — a job that does not pay much —says she often found resentment in her heart because her husband did not play any active role in the house, except unwillingly catering for finances. She was always on her feet all day, and thus was exhausted by the time she got home.
"He insisted on freshly cooked meals, and would never get up when the baby cried at night," she said.
Some men said they could never be with a woman who makes more money than they do. Mark, 36, said women can be quite mouthy and unable to control their emotions, and that more money would give a woman 'a big head'.
"In such situations, women are likely to criticise their husbands and be disrespectful. She can keep her money, I will provide for my house. I am the head of the family,” he said.
But the case was different for Baraza, 42, who said he was married to the most selfish “nuisance” (his ex wife). Apparently, she refused to tell him how much she earned, but she knew his.
He could tell that she made quite a bit of money, about 10 per cent less than he did, and not only did he not know how much she earned, but he also paid for everything in the house, including her personal items and “grooming”, including Brazilian hair, which cost him as much as Sh100,000.
"I was nagged for months until I saved and paid for the fake hair. She would go off with her girlfriends and buy really stunning jewelry and beautiful shoes, and then ask me for money for food for the house and toiletries, too," he said.
It made him resentful because he could not treat himself much, as he was down to zero at the end of the month. He later divorced her since he could not bear with the situation.
On the other hand, some men require that their wives hand over their salary at the end of the month, on payday. He then gives her what she needs from it. That, they say, shows that a woman is respectful to her husband and is submissive, as stated in the Bible.
There are also scenarios where the woman pays for things and would do it through her husband so he does not feel like less of a man. "For instance, if there are casual workers who have come to fix the plumbing or the fence. I give my husband money to pay them," Nyaboke said.
However, some men and women are quite progressive. Elizabeth, a wife and mother of three, told the Star both parties must share all responsibilities, whether they are financial or domestic, if both parties have jobs.
“When we cost-share, everybody feels like they are part of the relationship and nobody feels used or feels like a freeloader," she said.
She said she believes the two parties should split the bills if they are living under one roof, and that two income streams are certainly good and can provide a better lifestyle for the couple and their family.
“Women should stop being stereotypes. This kills marriages and relationships,” she said.
Shopkeeper Susan, 32, said financial responsibilities depend on the relationship.
“If a man is wealthy, then it would not be a problem to provide for his woman. However, if he is struggling and earning a certain income like the woman, it may seem unreasonable to expect him to cater for everything,” she said.
She said that men are providers and feel much more happy and in control when they are able to provide for the people in their lives without having to ask the woman to contribute. But it's different in other relationships.
“when people are in a partnership built on a solid foundation of friendship and equality, then naturally most responsibilities will be shared fairly depending on income bracket,” she said.
Speaking to Psychologist Grace Ngare, financial responsibilities are handled depending on what you agreed at the beginning of the marriage or relationship. They are managed as per the expectations made by both parties.
"You should both lay down your financial expectations and come to an agreement on how to handle finances in the marriage or relationship," she said.
she said that partners in a normal set-up should be able to agree on who is responsible for financially catering for specific issues in the household.
"It's not right to bundle all financial responsibilities on one partner, therefore the woman should explain what she will be doing with her finances, if all bills are bundled on the man," she said.
Ngare said that a woman is seen as a Gold digger by the man when she depends on him for everything. She also advises that women should be able to show their spouses that they can be responsible in difficult times.
"In cases when finances are not enough, the woman should come in handy and help manage the finances. If you got together for love, why should you not assist in finances?" she said.