Recently, I went out on a coffee date with a girlfriend who clearly needed to vent about her relationship with her boyfriend. The issue is not a new one, it was about quality time. According to her boyfriend, he does not see how a ‘broke ass’ can enjoy quality time. To him, money is not everything; it is ‘the only thing’.
Needless to say, we delved into this topic at length, wondering why many Adams and Eves of this day tend to think that money is the answer to most if not all their questions – or does it. I was reminded of the saying that goes something like ‘the measure of a man is not how much wealth he has made but the kind of family he has brought up’ Intrigued by the story, I prodded further to find out why her boyfriend seems not to commit any quality time to the relationship or if she even had a ‘whining point’. Her response was not surprising- the guy was busy looking for money.
So I asked my friend what she thought the solution should be. She told me that she did not have any solutions, as she was still trying to understand where the guy was coming from. (I had the feeling that try all she could, understanding was far off – compromise was closer). Listening to her, this is for sure a woman who knows exactly what she wants. She told me that she is at a point where ambition does not move her (this particular Adam had once asked her why she is not moved by his ambition); she has seen it all – with her other friends and at her place of work. Whilst she harbours ambitions of her own too, she is not interested in this Adam’s money – she is making her own and it sure isn’t buying her love!
She looked at me and quipped “why then this ballyhoo about his money as something that should make me leap for joy, as opposed to finding at least one uninterrupted afternoon of blissful laziness”? “If I take this guy the way he is, he will never ever show up for dinner if we ever settle together, nor would he ever be home to see the kids before they go bed” She was already thinking family .“He would be the absentee hubby and dad” she continued. I looked at her wondering what two cent advice I had to give.
I did not have any advice; instead I was the listener to an obviously surprised woman at the way things seem to play in the current set up. Something else has taken precedence over quality time and a number of Eves and even Adams have been caught off guard.
In my quest for an answer, I looked for an opinion from an Adam. I asked him what I thought was a simple question about choosing between spending time with his heart throb or making that extra dime. He did not even believe that I had the audacity to ask him this question as he didn’t need time to ponder over it. He asked me if I honestly believed that a woman in the current Nairobi would even have a minute for a guy without a big bank balance (other cities may refer too). He was of the feeling that times have completely changed. I went into a laughing fit when he told me that these days, the questions on the first date are never really about family or the way you grew up – everything revolves around a sort of mental and verbal (if not covert) ‘investigation’ to try and figure out what Adam is bringing to the table. Keen to prove his point, he told me that Adams know they are not headed anywhere as long they are living in some SQ or some not very attractive neighbourhood. His take is that Adams feel as though they have to purchase love/commitment the same way they purchase other basic needs, i.e. love has to be backed up with some bank balance. I thought I had a rod to wield but after reassessing his side of the story, I am afraid there is some truth there in!
All this begs the question of how generations before us handled this. As we perceive it, they raised ‘happy’ families; somehow the kids went to school, were well fed and clothed and enjoyed some luxury. Did this have something to do with their bank balance or were they great jugglers of trying to make ends meet and spending quality time with their significant others/families? Is this a component of our genes that scientists have yet to determine why it is not being trickled down to generations? Or was it more a belief that things would somehow sort themselves out and they somehow managed?
BUT I belong to this generation where success is regarded as more important than achievement! We believe that we need to buy shares in all leading companies, drive the most expensive rides and own a house by the time we hit our third decade, etc. So there is pressure to rake in the Benjamins (cash) within a few years of wrapping up higher education. This is the generation where the phrase ‘career women’ has been coined to the extent that banks are targeting women for ‘Diva accounts’. For sure money is a necessity but it goes without saying that whilst some homes have broken up due to financial difficulties, some homes have ceased to exist due to the excesses of money. Yes, we all want to live comfortably and enjoy the so called finer things in life, but I ask, where is the ’balance‘? Not the bank balance but the life balance.
Looking at the current state of affairs (economically and otherwise), it seems almost ironical to write about this but I think there is a case for it. Are relationships more stable when one can afford ‘the finer things’? One begs to ask, have we replaced other things that matter with the quest for wealth/success, or this is just the way it has to be?