To The Compromising Partner — A New House Won’t Solve Your Issues
Stop thinking that keeping your partner happy means you have to lose everything.
As I approach my mid-thirties, it’s almost impossible for everyone my age to resist homeowner fixation.
It’s like a disease, and I too need immunization from the property market fever.
I completely understand why I and my friends are going through this. We want to create a space that is ours, create an environment where we can express ourselves and live how we want to. And we don’t want the looming threat of a third party, a landlord or such, controlling our living situation.
We want control.
But some of my friends are taking this idea too far. It’s the married ones, or those with committed partners, that push for real estate ownership. And the push is going a little too far.
I realized this not too long ago. Whilst taking the tour of my best friend’s new house, I became concerned by her husband’s lacking enthusiasm. The beautiful fireplace, the grassed backyard, their oversized kitchen compared to their old place. Their castle didn’t cause a stir within him. If I was a betting woman, I would say he was angry about the house.
Then came the subject of the mortgage and he rolled his eyes. As my best friend outlined how affordable the place was and how much she loved it, I notice her husband kick the wall. Repeatedly. He hated the house, that much was clear.
From her blissful appearance, she either didn’t know. Or didn’t care. No matter how many times he kicked, she continued on.
After finishing the tour, I kept wondering why. Why did they buy a house that he clearly hated? Why would you do this to a relationship? What were they hoping to achieve?
But it turns out they won’t the only couple investing in real estate when one half wasn’t so convinced. More of my friends confessed they didn’t want to buy the house but only did so for their significant other. Real estate settling was plaguing everyone I know. And I’m sure you’re not immune.
For those who are considering real estate with their significant other, but one is resisting, I encourage you to read this warning first.
A house won’t fix your relationship issues
When life isn’t behaving, we’re convinced a singular event will change our course. A new job will fix our career woes. A holiday will fix our lethargy. And new real estate will rejuvenate a dying relationship. When the desire to own real estate takes over, we assume solving our relationship issues is an added benefit. Let me tell you: it won’t.
We rationally know this isn’t the case. We know adding financial and organizational stress into our lives won’t strengthen unhealthy relationships. There is never a magical solution to relationship issues. Yet, we know a purchase like this will create additional burdens for us to work through.
Navigating the fact this decision hasn’t solved our issues is the biggest problem of all. We’re back at square one, except with more debt and stress to complicate the scenario.
I don’t know what is going on between my friend and her man. I can’t with any authority say this purchase was to fix an issue between them. But from the attitude of my friend’s husband, it’s clear to the most unobservant that the problem still exists.
When you give in on big decisions, you set precedence for others
Buying a home isn’t an insignificant decision. It’s not like compromising over what you want to eat for dinner. The ramifications of such a decision flow onto every facet of your life. If you’re willing to blindly compromise over buying a house, you’re setting a precedence for other decisions like it.
When mentioning decisions like it, once again we aren’t talking about dinner. We’re referring to big life decisions. Like when to have children or how many. Or buying a new car. Or renovations on the house. Decisions that have long-term consequences to the way you live and your bank account.
What can happen is this precedence can become the rule for your relationship. If your partner assumes you will agree with all major purchase ideas, they will start making them without you.
My friend mentioned how she wanted to renovate all the bathrooms. She said she had already purchased the tiles but hadn’t told her husband yet. “He will like them, it will be fine.” It was selfish of her, but her reasoning made sense. He agreed to the house, so he would agree to everything else.
This isn’t about the battle between you and your partner. It can sound like how you treat a child. If you buy them candy at the grocery store, you turn them into a spoiled monster, that sort of idea.
But this idea has merit because your behavior becomes something your partner can expect from you. It means you keep repeating the same toxic behavior. You become stuck on an assumption loop that’s impossible to break.
It can become challenging to get what you want
As we walked around my best friend’s house, I asked her husband about the holiday they were planning. They both wanted a month-long break, staying in expensive hotels and eating at the nicest restaurants. They both worked hard enough and had earned the opportunity. Now with the house, he said that trip was off. And he wasn’t happy about it.
In the process of my best friend getting what she wanted, she denied him something he wanted. The money alone meant that they couldn’t do both. There wasn’t a compromise, either. They weren’t going on a smaller, shorter holiday. It was off altogether.
You may think he got a house over a holiday, so what is the big deal? What a privileged problem. And in many ways that’s true. But their experience demonstrates the problem with compromising. Sometimes you can lose everything you want in life. Or what you’ve worked your whole life for. And that isn’t fair.
You create a resentment incubator
Happy wife, happy life, they say. But many know this isn’t the case. They should probably change the saying to, ‘One happy partner, the other one miserable.’
As the person who’s always compromising on what they want, the resentment grows. People become bitter towards their partner, and they become resentful of themselves too. As I watched my friend’s husband kick the wall of his beautiful home, I wondered how often he would do this. When I go around the next time, would there be a dent in the wall?
The resentment rarely contains itself to real estate. It spills out into other areas of life. From this one decision, you can create years if not decades of issues. Like the precedence I mentioned earlier, it becomes a measuring stick for how your life eventuates.
It’s not about keeping the other person happy — it’s a partnership
It has always concerned me when couples make important, sizeable decisions with one-half disagreeing. That they go along with it to make the other person happy. I don’t see that as an equal partnership. I see that as horribly lopsided, and completely unsustainable in the long run.
We never intend to make our partner unhappy. We don’t refuse to buy a home because we’re trying to make the other person miserable. But we can’t go about our lives making one person happy in the sacrifice of our own.
We wouldn’t want the other person to do that for us, so why are we doing it for them?
To all the partners keeping their feelings about life-changing decisions silent, speak up. Your partner deserves your honesty, and they need to understand your point of view. And to all the partners who know their other half is compromising for you, with nothing in return, don’t settle for that behaviour. It may seem viable in the short term, but misery will soon follow.
This isn’t exactly about buying a house, by the way. I’m sure you’ve figured that out. This is about the inequalities of romantic relationships. When one person gets what they want, whilst the other sacrifices. It has to stop. We need to get better at remembering we’re in a partnership that is fair and equal. We can’t always get what we want.
And if we can, it isn’t fair to take advantage of it.
I’m Ellen McRae, writer by trade and passionate storyteller by nature. I write about figuring about love and relationships by analyzing my experiences. Some of the stories are altered to protect the people in my life. But my feelings are never compromised. https://ellenjellymcrae.com/