Home: His & Hers

IMG_1890Something that happened forty years ago almost cost me my thirty year marriage last year. I only realized this yesterday. The body holds emotions that the soul and mind don’t divide into time. That’s why when we hear a song that is particularly poignant, we’re right back there at the senior prom.

This happens in many ways and for me it involved men and new houses. I have owned two new houses in my life. Half a lifetime apart. It would never have occurred to me that the husband I bought the first house with would influence how I responded to the husband I bought the second house with…I was married to house guy #1 for only seven years and house guy #2 has been with me for thirty. So, no comparison. Right? Wrong.

Subtle, though, which is why it can be a good exercise and clearing for you if you run into a perplexing problem of unknown origin like I did. I had my beautiful new home. A home I had never aspired to (I always wanted a cute little ranch house). My husband happily organized the appliances, the shiny new deck that caught the sunset perfectly, and picked out a television and the few pieces of furniture he believed we needed, including a king-sized bed.

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Meanwhile I shopped in my basement, filling out the house as best I could with things that didn’t really fit. I mentioned I’d like to do a bit of decorating and husband said “Bank’s closed. We just spent a small fortune.”

I didn’t think much of it. I’m not a money person and I was fortunate for all I had. I moved on. Or so I thought. But I kept getting more and more depressed, feeling more and more isolated from my husband, and just in general unhappy. I didn’t connect it to the house. I eventually entered therapy where I found that I lived in an unequal marriage. The money management wasn’t equal. The time-commitment to each other and our home was not equal, and trust was all but gone.

Just like my first marriage. But this husband (which is why he has lasted thirty years) was willing to dig in and do the work. It started, funny enough, with me drawing up a budget to decorate the house, him laying out the budget for me, and us working together to make it all fit. It did and we went from there. I’m still working on some things like painting which men see as pointless in a new house because it’s new. But builders use cheap paint and nails pop and since I’m redecorating there are all those nail holes to fill. Also I want new color.

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Since I’ve become an equal in money management, I know what we can afford and I’m not going crazy but I wonder, if, that first time I bought a new house, had he listened to me and bought the ranch instead of the quad-level (I had two children under two years old, but he wasn’t thinking about my needs, although I did stay slim running up and down those stairs), we would have had money (not that I’d have known) to buy curtains for the gorgeous living room patio doors and bay window. We’d have had money for real furniture instead of my worn down bachelorette fuzzy love seat and battered old plaid chair someone gave us.

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What I didn’t know then was marriage has to be equal or everyone loses. Don’t give the money duty to your husband. Don’t let him make the “big” decisions to help him feel like a man, don’t do it because it will erode trust and without that you got nothing.

6 Comments on “Home: His & Hers

    • I really think there are not that many men willing to cede equality to a woman. Does that sound sexist? Men have the upper hand, they know it, why willingly give it up? It’s a sad fact and it’s all about money and power. Until we have equal opportunity and equal pay we have to rely on an innate goodness in a man, and that’s a scary thought. I got lucky and I know it.

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    • I have a way of kidding myself into thinking “well it’s not 50/50 but I have more of this and he has more of that and it all works out.” Not true. If the money isn’t even, if the trust isn’t even, if the intimacy isn’t even, ain’t nothin’ even.

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