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As A Man: Surviving prosperity

Published:Monday | November 30, 2015 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke

Financial problems are a major cause of contention between couples, leading to friction, break-ups, and issues of all and sundry. The late Ruddy Thomas and Gregory Isaacs were wrong when they sang Loving Pauper and All I Have is Love. In Loving Pauper, Thomas sings:

"I'm not in a position to maintain you

The way that you're accustomed to

Can't take you out to fancy places

Like other fellows that I know can do

I'm only able to romance you

And make you tingle with delight

Financially I'm a pauper

But when it comes to loving I'm all right"

Yeah, right. If it takes cash to care, as one former prime minister famously said, it takes finance to romance.

Isaacs takes it one step further in All I Have is Love, making a direct comparison between himself and a rich man:

"Now some other man will buy you diamonds and pearls

And those are the things that mean a lot to some girls

But all I have is love."

Alrighty then. So, all other factors being as equal as they can be among human beings, the woman is going to take jerked chicken back over a sit-down restaurant. Yeah again. Right again.

It all sounds good on a sound system after a couple of beers, but for real-life purposes, poverty in a relationship can 'decouple' people faster than a faulty hookup between high-speed train cars. But as debilitating as the lack of financial resources can be on the relationship, when they struggle and finally start to 'see life', prosperity can be more dangerous to their staying together.

For, now there are choices. Whereas before the relative wealth, a poor cohabitating couple jus had to 'kotch' in the place they had, staying one step ahead of the landlord, now that there is some cash, they can afford to live in separate places. Whereas it was a single 'bruck-down' car in the struggling times, now there are two, there is no need to leave home together, arrange pickup times, wait on each other and return home as a unit. Now it is possible to travel separately, and that can be the start of the unravelling of the whole set-up.

With advancement, also inevitably comes the possibility of perceptions of inequality and attendant resentment. It may be between the partners, where one gets 'rich and switch'. What is just as bad is when persons who know the couple begin to treat them unequally. All of a sudden they no longer 'match' in the eyes of those who think it is their duty to police the composition of couples and ensure that persons who are copulating are equal at the yoke.

And they do make a point of it - especially the women, who treat the man their pal or associate has been with for some time as inferior, now that she has 'outgrown him'. Socialising as a couple can get really awkward.

It is in those times of prosperity that Buju Banton's lines in his combination with Wayne Winder, I Don't Know Why (Movie Star) - and don't forget Errol Dunkley did it before them - should serve as a guide. He deejays:

"Woman you need not be wealthy nor drive a fast car

But me nah go lef you out cause we a come from far

Yu memba when me only have one Arrow shirt

An yu a mogle wid me inna yu tight up skirt?

As long as me deh pon de Earth

Mi nah fight whe mi a come from

Mi nah go dish yu dirt."