It’s not always elementary, I’m afraid.
After almost two years of entirely friction-free relationship, Chuck and I finally had some serious unpleasantness last night. I don’t want to call it a fight: we weren’t arguing about anything. We just didn’t deal well with a tense topic that we were trying to discuss – me buying a house.
I can see that, with interest rates being what they are, this makes good financial sense. It would be a rental. But I’m scared. For me, it is a big step. Just looking at some listings my real estate agent had sent me, I felt like I was going to hyperventilate.
I am just finishing up The Hound of the Baskervilles, in which Sherlock Holmes employs deductive reasoning to solve a mystery. He takes specific details and builds a generality. Chuck tried to help me by doing the opposite: breaking down each component of why I was nervous and coming up with a rational contradiction. He often does this. Sometimes, this helps me. But when the real problem is that I’m having an emotional response to something, this is not helpful. It devolved into Chuck feeling frustrated; me being hurt by his tone of voice; me leaving the room and going to the spare bedroom, where I could curl up in a blanket and cry lustily on my own.
The world is a big place; and I, when imagining my life as a single woman, always thought, “I’ll live small. I’ll live simple.”
I should be bolder, I know. But.
Two years ago, I didn’t even know how much money I earned. I hadn’t written a check in years. I didn’t know how to make a budget, or anything about my taxes or retirement plans. S-L-O-W-L-Y I have been coming to grips with all of this, but there is still a lot I don’t know. I now manage our day-to-day household finances like a pro, including paying all the bills on time, setting the budget, deciding what to do with the monthly savings, etc… I am still trying to figure out taxes. I am still trying to get to the bottom of my various long-term / retirement savings plans. I always imagined that I would achieve mastery at those things, THEN buy a house. And the element of having it be a rental just makes it more complicated.
AND. I’m a busy woman. I have a demanding job, kids that need to be shuttled hither and yon, a relationship that needs to be nurtured. A house that needs to be cleaned. Pets. Friends. Where will I find time for the cleaning, the repairs, the problems, the postings, the walk-throughs, the bugging people to pay their rent? I already feel like I do not have enough time just to relax and catch my breath and watch the clouds for a few minutes. I’m going to be a landlady!?
FINALLY. I am going to get married this summer. Chuck and I will be a “we”. But this is my money, my house, my choice, my risk. Chuck is present and supportive, but he will have no financial skin in the game. That means that, when something breaks, I can’t ask him to fix it. If I can’t find a tenant and the house is sitting vacant, it will be my accounts that are being drained to pay the mortgage. It’s just like parenting. He’s there: he’s my friend and sounding board; but I make all the decisions and mete out all the punishment. Is this how second marriages always are? It doesn’t feel like “we”.
I finished my lusty cry and went to bed. Chuck soothed me and told me everything was all right. But here’s the last problem. My former husband was unbelievably cruel to me about any tension, conflict, or upset. And that is not hyperbole. I would end up begging him to forgive me, just so he would stop saying the things he was saying. I would think long and hard, trying to find something I could apologize for. In 19 years of marriage, he NEVER apologized to me even once. He told me that, any problems between us made him love me less. So here I am with a very different type of man, and I’m kicking myself because I failed to be perfect. I wasn’t a Stepford wife. I was flawed, and I hate myself for that. Does he still even WANT to get married? I’m trying so hard not to think that way.
In the meantime, anyone out there got advice about coming to grips emotionally with large financial decisions? Anyone else out there ever been scared to buy a house? Anyone want to give me advice about second marriages?