Buying a House is Kinda Like Finding a Spouse

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Buying a House is Kinda Like Finding a SpouseMy husband and I have been shopping for a new house since January. I don’t know if you know this, but the housing market is currently terrible — for buyers, anyway. Houses hit Zillow and Redfin and disappear within the same week, vanishing into the ether of a competitive seller’s market, with people willing to pay $30k above asking for a house that’s worth $50k below what it’s listed for.

Around house number four or so, the doubt started creeping in.

See, the reason we’re on a house hunt at all is because we quickly grew to dislike our second home, the house we’d been living in since right after our son’s first birthday. By the time he’d turned four, we were already considering a change of space. So we got our house in tip-top shape, listed it for sale, and said farewell to house number two in January 2020.

The pandemic hit six weeks later, and our plan to “hang out in an apartment for about six months so we can take our time finding our next house” turned into a longer commitment than we ever thought. Spring came and went, summer melted into fall, and fall turned into Christmas. I had to buy new Christmas decorations because ours are still — to this day — in the storage unit that was supposed to be temporary.

But eventually, things eased up. People started living their lives again, we got vaccinated, and it finally seemed like the time to try and find a house again. And so we started, at last, looking for a new home.

We want this next house to be our last house, partly because we never (ever, ever, ever) want to move again and partly so we can feel settled. After a year of feeling very much unsettled (in more ways than one), it will be nice to kick back and know that we’re in a place for good. Unfortunately, we’re not alone. And with limited inventory, we’re still stuck here obsessively checking emails from our Realtor and wondering if the next house will finally be it.

But over the course of the last few months, I’ve discovered something besides the fact that 1970s architecture is superior to most modern construction.

While we’ve anxiously refreshed the housing apps and made notes of what we did and didn’t like after each showing, a new realization emerged, not in the housing market but in our own relationship. You see, after touring twelve houses now, I’ve come to realize how much I still have to learn about my husband. In other words, after 13+ years of marriage, sometimes I still look at my husband with sheer bewilderment and wonder, occasionally out loud, “Who are you?”

Maybe it’s the stress of the situation or a need to diffuse the tension with ironic humor, but I can’t help but think about how many parallels there are in buying a house and getting married. Of course, I married the only boyfriend I’ve ever had. My husband and I went to high school together, started dating freshman year of college, and said “I do” three weeks after graduating from MTSU. So I’m not exactly a pro at dating. But I do have some experience in being with someone for what simultaneously feels like forever and the blink of an eye.

Still, despite nearly 17 years of sharing a life in one form or another, there’s stuff to uncover. And that’s kinda cool.

I learned during our current house hunt, for example, that my husband has very specific bathroom layout needs and that he believes that any house with a tiny attic access door is probably haunted (and therefore unlivable). We have different ideas about the flooring — he prefers carpet in the living spaces, even though he’s highly allergic to dust mites — and he wants to live in a community setting, ideally with an HOA (even though he’s the textbook definition of an introvert and we’ve never once gone out of our way to meet any of our neighbors, anywhere).

His preferences aren’t invalid. I just find it amusing how much a major life decision can force you to see your spouse in a new way. This is our third house. We’ve owned two before. But each hunt is unique, and with it comes a new list of needs and wants as our life together continues to evolve.

It’s easy, after this long time together, to take for granted that we know each other completely. But every so often, we hit a new challenge — like trying to find a house in a ridiculous market — that shakes things up a bit, and we suddenly find ourselves with new things to talk about, new paths to consider.

Buying a home is a little like finding a spouse in that you get a lot of info up front but never really know what you’re getting into until you settle in and get comfortable. And even then, there are still surprises — some good, some amusing, some downright mind boggling. 

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