Monday, March 4, 2013

No Shit, Sherlock.

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?


  1. I bought my first house when I was 27 as a solution to help fix a dying relationship. I sold that to buy a condo when I was making mega big bucks and had it to spare. Finally, I bought my current home when my child was a one year old baby and I had just quit my job to stay home and raise her until first grade. So, I sold my pricey house and bought a fixer upper Victorian home that cost a quarter of what my pricey one did and socked away the rest of the money.

    Houses are terrifying, yes? They break down ALL THE TIME. I actually had an entire window fall out of my home on 9-11. But, I've never purchased a home to rent and that is a whole other cupcake, so I am a poor advice giver.

    Why can't Chuck help out if something breaks down? If you're together, can't he lend a hand? Wouldn't you do the same for him? I don't really get this part. I do get it if he sees it as a really stupid investment, etc., but it seems like some sort of punishment to not help out if you need it.

    Big, bold moves are very, very hard when you have been made to feel rather small and I think that in your first marriage, you felt like that very often. And I think that Chuck's stand hit that chord in you that Simon always did...being controlled in a very subtle way, except that Chuck did it by refusing to help and Simon did it by refusing to hold up his end and take responsibility. No wonder you ended up in tears. You saw something that frightened you.

    So..if your house makes money hand over fist does it mean that you won't share a dime with Chuck?

    This doesn't make sense.

    Maybe it is best to wait to buy until you feel on safer ground?

    1. Well, this is my fault. He hasn't refused to help. I haven't asked him to. He has a lot less money than I do, and I don't want him to feel obligated to help me.

  2. Perhaps, look into getting a Real Estate agent. You wouldn't deal with the tenant directly; any problems, maintenance, rent would all be handled by the agent as a third party (for a fee). Talking to an agent wouldn't cost you anything and it wouldn't hurt, plus it might shed some light on any questions you AND Chuck may have (or realize you may not have had).
    And married!!! Congratulations!!!

  3. Oh wow, so many things to talk to here but mostly I just hear someone who's first husband battered her emotionally and made her lack confidence in herself. (I'm newish here so don't hold my openness against me)

    Hon, buy the house and stop all your worrying. If things go bad then you sell it - just make sure you do all the checks and balances to ensure you don't buy a lemon.

    If this man you plan to marry wouldn't be by your side if things got uncertain then you probably shouldn't be marrying him. Correct me if I'm wrong, but your new man doesn't sound like that sort.

    Yes it may be your house and your responsibility but marriage is about being there for each other through the good and bad. Why couldn't you ask him to help out?

    Some times we have to be brave and step out of our comfort zones to really live life. Some times we have to just throw it out to the universe and trust that things will work out okay.

    All the things you say you now do is proof that you can cope with anything that comes your way so be brave, be bold and just do what feels right :-)

    Hugs, Fi

  4. Hi

    Firstly, congratulations with the wedding! That's lovely news.

    Some good advice above. Yep, buying can be scary but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and take some chances in life. I think as long as you do your homework by getting surveys done, buying property in a good area, and carefully budgeting your money (which you sound like a pro at now) then go for it? Also, I agree that perhaps Chuck could help you if you needed it? Surely if something went wrong and he was able to he would?

    Second marriages, well I'm on number 2 and I couldn't be happier. But sometimes I can't help but be reminded of my past and how he made me feel. I guess it's made me the person I am now though, I won't put up with any crap these days or not address problems. So in that respect it was a good thing!

    Good luck with everything. I look forward to reading more updates.