Wednesday, May 16, 2012


So I hinted on Twitter that there is house news coming soon... and I promise it is, and it will, but just not yet. If it were up to me, I'd have filled this blog with every single juicy, gut-wrenching, dramatic high and low of the house-buying process thus far. But it's not up to me; I'm doing this in partnership with The Irishman and that means we've had to meet in the middle about a lot of things – well, everything really. From location to size to space to bedrooms to garden to money to how much I disclose about our house search online to money to dealing with our parents to money, we've had to discuss and argue and find a way to agree on everything despite our seemingly extremely different points of view.

Where we've ended up is a place we both feel comfortable and positive and optimistic for the future, but the compromise isn't over. In fact, it's dawning on me that this is just the beginning. Even if we do get a house, by signing on the dotted line we are committing ourselves to 33 years – the length of a mortgage – of joint decisions, budgets, priorities. And that means that my world view is shifting, and none too subtly. Holidays I want to plan, sales that constantly tempt me, must-do restaurants and theatre, all of the things I previously would have done on a whim are now going to be things we plan and save for. The Irishman likes to reassure me that this is what everyone does, and that we've been privileged up to this point to be able to just jaunt off to Paris and worry about the credit card bill later; I recognize this truth and I do appreciate and value where I've – we've  – been able to get to in our lives to be able to have that freedom. But it is exactly that freedom that I'm now trading for the security of a home with The Irishman, and that is pretty scary. It's a bigger, more complex, more demanding commitment than the one I made when I moved in with him, one that is a lot harder to undo.

And of course, there is the big elephant in the room: marriage. In some ways, buying property together is more binding than a ceremony and party. The Irishman and I will have been together for four years in just over a month, and I sort of feel like the last 5 months of house-hunting has been our version of wedding planning hell. I've never really been a big bridezilla type, never wanted a big white wedding, and I also was pretty adamant that I didn't want to get married until I turned 30. But now that I'm here, buying a house with my man at 31, having attended more weddings than I care to recount, I am ready and want my own special day. We've talked about The Big M and there is a shared agreement that it's not an If but a When, but talking about the sheer sums of money we need for A House makes the cost of a wedding feel frivolous and unrealistic. When £2,500 can get you the kitchen of your dreams or the wedding dress of your dreams, it's hard to decide which is the more appropriate decision – compromise – to make. Yet, I'm sorry, my vanity is strong: I do NOT want to get married at 40, I don't want to walk down the aisle with wrinkles. There's no right answer to how to spend one's money, and I feel slightly trapped in that putting a downpayment on a house has already decided for me.

So I'm entering unchartered waters here, trying to juggle the best for us as a couple, hopefully as new homeowners, and what I want and wish for me, myself, a girl who has her own individual hopes and dreams. And I am starting to realize that actually this is just a magnification of the biggest struggle a person can have as part of couple: retaining her sense of self, stay whole, while creating and building another, bigger, hopefully better, whole. I guess this is just the maturing process, realizing who and what you are and want and balancing it with who and what your partner is and wants and what you are and want together. Every milestone we meet together brings this truth into sharper focus and brighter clarity, while also being difficult to understand and adjust, yet once we've passed it I feel stronger and more capable. I guess this house thing will be yet another of these trials and tests for us both.

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