A few weeks ago, Joy, a reader, was seeking advice. According to her, her boyfriend Peter with whom she has been staying with for two years had changed.
“When Peter was not earning much, we were peaceful and our relationship was smooth. However, ever since he got a high-paying job, his behaviour changed,” Joy wrote. “He comes back home late, drank, is rude and always wants to fight.

He even no longer cares for our son. In fact, when he is home, he is always on WhatsApp, Facebook or texting with friends whom he says are very important.”

Now Joy was worried Peter no longer loved her and was wondering whether she should call it quits or be hopeful that he will change.
Several Heart to Heart readers gave Joy some advice most of them telling her to wait on him to go back to his senses. Now that is the test.

There are men that have despite their fat bank accounts loved and cherished the same woman that stood by them through the ‘dry spell’. But also, there are many who, like Peter, change in behaviour as soon as more zeros are added onto their income.

A reality
I once walked into an old neighbour as I made my way out of a city shopping mall. He was older now. I had last seen him almost a decade ago, when he was a tall and lanky 30 or so year-old that was well known around the neighbourhood partly because he had no job.

He worked as a broker (middleman) for space to let. It is the income from that odd job that he used to fend for his live-in girlfriend.

They were broke, to say the least. Together they put up in a small and stuffy one-roomed concrete structure, which worked as a bedroom in the night and a kiosk during day. They stayed together for a couple of years perhaps praying together for a brighter day.

And it came. The man got a job in the then Uganda Electricity Board. And before everyone could join him in celebration, he disappeared!

Money had given him eyes for another woman. That was the gossip. He walked out on a girlfriend. But some men walk out on wives and children!

Personal character at play
Selfish, forgetful, irrational or even traitor, all these are ways in which such men have been described by the female court of opinion and at times society.

Suudhi Bamutya, a veterinary doctor, says he is not sure his behaviour can change or that he can disappear from his woman after he gets more money. Nonetheless, he says some men do not intend to change.

“Sometimes, when a man starts earning sums of money, he starts getting much more taken up by his job or business and will in the process pay less attention to his social life, his relationship inclusive. That is why they say he has changed,” Bamutya says.

In his view, it is no surprise when a man that has just got his financial train on rail starts ignoring his intimate relationship to focus on money-making opportunities

. “That is what men do. And sometimes he is taken up so much that he sees no value in the relationship anymore and may even end it.”

A case of extended options
But according to Polly Nuwagaba, a relationship counsellor, men tend to look at having more money as a measure of options. Nuwagaba says when a man is broke, he sees himself as someone who does not have many choices on the kind of woman he dates or marries.
“The unfortunate reality is that there are a number of men who believe the weight of their bank account determines the type of women they can date.

So the moment he starts getting more money, he becomes a man with many options. Suddenly, he wants some of what he initially believed he could not have. And he may feel the current woman is no longer fitting of the standard he now believes he should have,” Nuwagaba says.

Timothy Sseruyange, an electronics trader, seems to read from Nuwagaba’s script when he says money often brings more women in a man’s life, hence increased temptation. Nonetheless, Sseruyange believes it always comes down to one’s character.

“Some men are just easily excitable and would thus leave a woman that has stood by them for long when they get a well-paying job. Others stick by because they respect the time and sacrifice the woman has given to the relationship,” Sseruyange says.

Emotional blackmail
But to Francis Opolot, an Economist, a man should be at liberty to choose another suitor as and when he wants. “Shouldn’t a man have the liberty to choose another woman just because now he has money?”

In his view, the whole bitter talk that follows when a suddenly loaded man leaves an old lover is irrational and aimed at stigmatising men from their free-will of choosing a woman they desire.
“I’m not saying that married men walk away from their wives after they start earning more money.

But imagine a case when the two people are just dating, why shouldn’t a man have the liberty to end a relationship just because the girlfriend was around when he was broke?” Opolot asks.

Opolot’s point of emphasis is that sometimes we forget that these men will walk out on women not just because they do now have more money, but for other valid reasons. “Maybe he is just not happy in the relationship anymore, that’s all!”

Guiding principles

The issue of finances can go either way. Sometimes when a man realises he is too broke to continue supporting the family, he may be forced to abandon them. This is because of the fear of being underlooked.

But also it is a very common trend for men to change their behaviour when their income increases. After a promotion at his place of work, the man may begin to look at his wife as of low class who does not suit him and seek another he has always desired.

Some may start to spend more time at their workplaces because they want to tap each opportunity that comes in their business thereby forgetting about their children and wife.

They start to come home late and are literally too busy to have time with the family. This is made worse by poor communication between the couple.

However, men who usually abandon their families when they have more money were never good men from the start of the relationship. It gives a picture that there were no guiding principles in the first place.

Some men are easily taken up by the excitement that comes with an increased income.

This may prompt them to have an affair outside their marriage because they are able to financially. The new catch in turn persuades the man to abandon the first family.

At the start of the relationship, the couple should make plans that focus on where they want their family to be and they should together uphold these expectations.

Have role models that you look up to. Those people must be happy in their marriage. This will help you keep focused that you will stay in the relationship despite the challenges including increased income.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com