Building A New Home And A New Marriage

home building

Can building a new home help a marriage?

When I told my husband, Matt, I'd move out of our city home for him, I didn't mean right that moment. But he woke up energized. For an hour he walked around our neighborhood as snow fell, sticking notes in doors of older homes destined to become tear downs. "If you ever want to sell," he wrote. And a day later, we got a call. Should You Move For Love?

He was thrilled, but I felt conflicted. Ever since our children were born, it was as if Matt and I had shot down different life trajectories. He didn't quite understand the care a toddler and a baby required, the exhaustion of having to settle both throughout the night, and often I lacked patience to hear how his day at work went. Matt is about forward motion, energy. And I was stuck, with his momentum reminding me of it.

Which got me thinking that maybe what we needed wasn't a new home, but to stop living our lives in parallel. Which called for a slower life. A simpler one. One where Matt, an attorney, didn't work the sort of hours he did, and on weekends we could be like the other families at the park: complete. But was there was such a thing as a simpler life, or did you simply trade one stress for another? I appreciated the financial comfort his job provided, especially during the recession. But if we built a home, we'd be tied to the lifestyle that home entailed.

We went to look at the home for sale anyway. It was an older home, built in the early 1900s. It had a comfortable, withered look. The lot it sat on was private and secluded, its borders undisturbed. The light filtering through the trees felt precious. Standing there, it felt as if the world around us was suddenly muted, time suspended. Snow seeped into my boots but I didn't care; I felt at peace. This was it. This was where we'd grow old.

"What do you think?" Matt said. He'd had the foresight to wear gloves; I stuffed my reddening hands in my coat pocket.

"I love it," I said. "But it's up to you." I'd pushed him into a home once before, and that had backfired. I didn't want to push him here. Does Your Home Cause Marital Stress?

Later that week, I walked the lot with our architect, Jean Rehkamp Larson. We admired her thoughtful approach to her work. "You won't find another city lot at this price like this one," she said. She was right, the lot was twice as wide as our existing one, and four times as deep. Plus, the price was right, less than we'd expected to pay.