My argument is that I don’t want a big house that I had no say in and that his family grew up in. I suggested that he sell when we are about six months out from being married, take the money he’ll make on that, and put it towards a house with his wife. He is adamant that this is not logical and he will not find something as good if he sells. He says it’s more logical to move into this house (that he is renting out right now) after we’re married, when I would be put on the mortgage, and use it as a starter house, redecorating together and making it our home.
He is having a hard time understanding why this bothers me. For one thing, it’s a goal and dream to accomplish something like this WITH a partner. I praised him for thinking ahead and making such a great investment, but wouldn’t it be great to buy with your wife where there are no strings attached? I am fully aware that I do not have a say on whether buying this house was a good choice or not as we’re not married and it was his money. However, he did hide this from me for the past year, and I wonder if this is a sign of future issues we might have with his family or of his not being willing to buy something together eventually.
Am I crazy for being upset? Should I stick to my guns, or should I let the man of my dreams provide for me like he wants to do? If you do think I should get over my negative feelings about this house, how do you suggest doing that? — Man of my Dreams, But Not the House of My Dreams
This isn’t about just a house, is it? The house is simply a symbol, a metaphor, but what it’s symbolizing to each of you is at odds. You see it as a symbol of your boyfriend’s past, not his future. He bought it after a year of consideration in which he didn’t share a word about it to you, the woman he hopes to marry. What does that symbolize to you? That he doesn’t trust you? Doesn’t value your opinion? Doesn’t care what your goals and dreams might be and whether they can work with his goals and dreams?
And for his part, the house symbolizes security. We would assume it’s a home he felt secure in growing up and that he feels financially secure about buying at a great deal and with an idea that it will prove to be a smart investment. (A great deal on a starter house can mean upgrading faster than one would be able to otherwise.) And this investment is on what he believes to be a financially and emotionally secure foundation — something that would be particularly important to someone hoping to create a home with a future spouse in the not-too-distant future.
What is lacking here isn’t love or hope or dreams or goals or even careful planning. What is lacking is clear communication. You need to be honest with him — and yourself — about your reservations regarding this house. What are your true concerns here? Are you worried you won’t ever feel like it’s your house? That your in-laws won’t stop thinking of it as their house? Are you concerned he won’t want to move out as quickly as you’d like? Are you worried that, as symbolized by his buying the house in the first place, that he won’t value your opinion, let alone trust and appreciate your ability to make sound and responsible financial decisions yourself? Get real about these issues and give him a chance to address each one. And then let him get clear about what his true intentions are. How long does he envision living in this house with you? One year? Three? More? And then what? Where do you see yourselves putting down roots and potentially raising kids (if you want them)? How will this house help propel you to your shared goals, assuming you have shared goals?
In order to reach a compromise, you have to remain open-hearted and open-minded. As hurt or troubled as you might be by your boyfriend making big future plans without consulting you, you have to trust that his intentions were pure, if not well-communicated. If you don’t, well, then you have bigger issues than a big house, and you would do well to use this opportunity, before you’ve made the commitment to marry, to do some soul-searching and decide whether this is really someone with whom you share a strong enough foundation to build a future, regardless of where that future is ultimately housed.