Playing House: Stress and the End of a Relationship


Buying the wrong home can turn your love nest into one of resentment.

In our society, purchasing certain items is correlated with rites of passage. As children, we ran into the toy store and proudly bought a GI Joe or Barbie with the money we made mowing the lawn or taking out the garbage. As twenty-one year olds, we strutted into the liquor store and bought our first forty, cockily daring the guy behind the register to card us. And, as adults, we purchased our first home. But, it is this purchase that can lead to the end of a relationship.

It seems like this shouldn’t be true: buying a home should be a time of happiness and freedom. After all, you’re finally an adult, free to decorate your home in whatever shape or form you want…even if it means putting a chocolate fountain in your living room. But, the fact of that matter is that home ownership is stressful and it’s this stress – and not the home itself – that results in the end of a relationship.

This probably leaves you asking one question: how can we prevent this? The bad news is that home ownership, in many instances, is inevitable or, at the very least, better than the alternative options. You can rent forever, but this puts your credit stability and financial portfolio at risk. You can live with your parents, but this will cause the end of a relationship faster than gender reassignment surgery. Thus, it’s not so much about not buying a home, but rather buying one intelligently.

So, what should you do to assure your house and the end of your relationship aren't an inclusive deal. Well, start with the following:

Agree on a home: Going out and buying a home and then surprising your partner may be incredibly romantic, but it’s also incredibly risky. In short, you run the risk that your partner will dislike the house or will be angered by the fact you made such a huge decision without their input. And, if something in the house goes wrong – the basement floods, the roof leaks, a ghost named Henry insists on joining you during sex – all of this will be compounded. In other words, your partner will blame you for every nick in the ceramc tile and every broken light bulb: after all, you’re the one who picked the home out...what we're you thinking.

Buy within your budget: These days, it’s not as easy to buy outside of your budget as it was before the market crashed six years ago. It’s not as easy, but it’s still possible. However, buying outside of your budget is definitely gambling with the end of a relationship. Why this happens has to do with money: it becomes a big deal when you don’t have it. If you are house poor – meaning that all of your money goes to your mortgage – you give up the ability to have a life outside of your home. This prevents you and your partner from traveling, taking up new activities, and even doing something simple like dinner and a movie. Money is one of the biggest things that couples fight about and buying a home outside of your budget pretty much assures that that fight will be a common one.

Have it inspected: Most homes must be inspected before they can be purchased, but one inspection might not be enough. Instead, splurging on a second opinion can benefit you in the long run. As most home owners will tell you, there’s a little known law of physics that only applies to houses: the instant you sign the deed, gravity kicks in and your home begins to fall apart. Shingles drop from the roof, cracks appear in the foundation, the heat starts only emitting cold – whatever can go wrong, does. All of this leads to the end of a relationship for the same reasons buying outside of your budget does: repairs cost money and cause stress. Not only this, but they also predicate the Honey Do List (honey fix the garage, honey re-sod the lawn, honey ask Henry to stop suggesting sexual positions), a list that leaves women frustrated and men feeling nagged.  By having a home inspected and then inspected again, on the other hand, you decrease the odds of things falling apart, which ultimately decreases the odds of the same old argument kicking in with the regularity of central air during summer time. 

To learn more about preventing the end of a relationship, click here.