Today I’m talking about couples. Up to now I met two of them apparently happy, the rest is a long story. I suppose couples are unhappy (or more or less accommodated) because the person idealized only exists in our head. And if he or she exists, we know he or she is out of our league.

I developed a conclusion, based on the observation of young couples that I know. They are (already!) unhappy, and a few of them (already!) separated, because they cannot afford each other. I’ll give you some examples.

Couple A
He is in his middle thirties and has only one goal in life: do whatever he likes to do, without ties or worries. He has his things and responsibilities, but there are responsibilities that he avoids at all costs. In short, he is practically jobless and happy to be one. The ideal partner for him would be a multitasked woman, covering all issues where he is a nullity.

She is also mid thirties. She has a regular job, ambitions and wants a family. Even though they should have been happy, they couldn’t afford each other. She clearly didn’t want the risk of supporting his erratic life and he, despite being at home, didn’t want to sacrifice his freedom and having children. He didn’t want to pay for her dream. She didn’t want to pay for his. They couldn’t afford each other.

Couple B
He knew he couldn’t afford her. She was so completely different in everything! Nevertheless, they lived together for years without even touching the affordability question.

In terms of affordability, women are more pliable. Men usually are not happy because most of them have their hearts set on women they cannot afford and, even knowing it, that doesn’t change a thing theoretically. That explains why even very old men (80 or more) “buy” the relationships they could never had before. At advanced age, they afford the dream they couldn’t afford before or, if they are poor and still into a relationship, they simply declare to his partner what they never had the courage to state before: “I cannot afford you!”

My father tried to “buy” a 50 years old wife at 85 and failed. The next 5 years he was too busy letting himself die. I know an 80 man who arrived in Mozambique in search of a dream wife. He found her in a 28 years old Mozambican escort-girl. He bought an apartment in a fancy place. He never goes out. She is a sort of governess, shopping for him and having a busy social life. They can afford each other. He has the money to pay for her caprices, respecting her freedom and her old habits. She represents the dream he couldn’t afford before or, at least, something very close to that dream.

It’s not the first 80/20 couple that I met. When I was in my middle teens, I experienced a sleepwalking phase. I was arriving from the street when my mother was awakened by strong screams. She went for water and that’s when she spotted me at the front door.

After making sure I was in bed, she went out to check what the screaming was about. They were woman’s screams and went for almost all night. Three or four houses away from us lived a young student, lover of a more than 80 man. He paid for the house, studies and everything. He used to arrive at night, park the car and leave at daylight. That night he died during intercourse and all her screaming was meant to make clear that she wasn’t guilty. She knew people would talk because she was keeping the house and getting rid of the old man. She was almost finishing her studies (her merit) and some people said to have seen her with some young fellow. I heard my mother, who had a childhood friend in the crime investigative police, commenting the situation with our next-door neighbour. Except for the wow of the neighbourhood, I didn’t have a reaction. In part we learn to judge things by the wow of others, but I’ve never been inclined to bother with someone else’s opinions.

I knew a third 70-20 case. He lived with a prostitute and had a son. He spent years fighting for that child. He was Portuguese and she was Mozambican. I haven’t yet found a court of law that is not nationalist. Actually, most of them are national-fascist. He lost everything that he had just to have the custody and finally died. The forth case is of a Portuguese millionaire, owner of a construction company. He came to Mozambique in search of something he wasn’t getting in Portugal. His sons (he was a widower) contact us to find him. It took us a while but finally we discovered that he was living in a hut near Maputo, with some young Mozambican farmer. He was covered with rags and used a rope as a belt. After spending all the money he had in the bank in less than a year, he could only afford a very poor woman.

Affordability is a serious matter and it works both ways. Just like the previous examples, I know many men who forget or, if possible, would forget the woman of their dreams for someone capable to pay their bills and addictions. Women conquered a space and now they start to feel the pressure of affordability.

The other day someone very close to me complained of his wife because she was spending all her money with frivolous things and he had to assume all the “serious” expenses. I had to remind him that he knew it before. Someone who picks a sort of call girl as a wife cannot demand a lot from her. All the money the local girls earn is never enough to pay for their expensive tastes.

We all have dreams but we don’t have the right to be a merchant of dreams, selling dreams that are not in store. Such merchants of dreams only sell illusion, foolery and pain. All I want to say is: in terms of relationships, we take affordability very seriously. In the last instance, it’s always the reality that counts. The affordable dream. But we are not consequent with our options. And, as we are not each other’s dreams – and know it – we are only trying to take material advantages. The final result is: he cannot afford her, she cannot afford him. S-a-d.