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What Do You Mean, We Don’t NEED a Bathtub?

Joined: 11/9/2011
Posts: 23
How to Stay Married While House-Hunting

Admittedly, I watch quite a few DIY/house-hunting/decorating channels on TV and get a little too involved. After a recent international house-hunting show, I decided that I need to move to a bungalow on the beach in Costa Rica. Right now. Oh, and I also need a lanai, even though I’m in Ohio…But I have to say my viewing pleasure has diminished recently and the house-hunting shows in particular make me cranky. Maybe I’ve slipped into a grouchier demographic (let’s not go there), but these programs seem to be showcasing more irritating, super-picky, naïve home buyers and squabbling couples.

But I WANT a Media Room!

I think we all can become a little nuts when moving and house-hunting, but people seem to have unreasonable expectations for the process and the first-timers are the worst – “But why can’t I have an oceanfront home in Malibu for $300,000?” or “I have to have granite countertops!” Let’s get real, people. I’ve owned homes for over 20 years and I don’t have either of those things

When a couple is on the hunt, it gets even more interesting. As for their bickering, they may have packed one too many moving boxes that day or are worried about not selling their house before they move. I’ll give them a pass. But as a former psychotherapist, it’s fascinating to me to hear the comments and see that body language (insert eye-roll here). It reminds me of doing couple’s counseling!

Typically, one person will instantly fall in love with a house and begin to rationalize its faults – “You never take baths, why do we need a bathtub?” which leads to more information than I need to know about their hygiene habits. Or it becomes a “if you get that, I get…” negotiation – “If you get a home office, I get a craft room!” You can usually tell, too, who has more power in decision-making by watching them do their thing. It’s fun when one partner has a defeated look, saying to the camera, “Cheryl knows what she wants and she usually gets it.”

Set Ground Rules

To make the process smoother and more productive, decide ahead of time what you’re both looking for in a new home. Let’s set some other ground rules for house-hunting. Pretend that it’s couple’s therapy and this is your homework assignment.

• Not another open house! – When you look at a gazillion open houses and go to showings every weekend, they start to blur. Sometimes one partner is more into it than the other. If one of you says, “I’ve had enough sensory overload today,” you need to respect that and go home. And NO drive-bys either.
• Make a list of wants, needs and don’t cares – You should each make a list separately and then compare. Share your lists without commenting. Divide both lists into wants and needs. It’s OK to have differences, but come to a decision on points that are deal-breakers.
• No “psychic spouse” – In my experience there’s usually one person in a couple who pouts if the other can’t read their mind. (“If you really loved me, you’d see into my cortex.”) Say out loud what you’re thinking as you walk through a home. If you hate the place, don’t wait till you’ve moved in to share that thought!
• Be cool in front of the realtor – Maybe it’s like bad reality TV and the couples on these shows forget they’re on camera - things can get tense, but don’t have a spat or act up in front of the realtor. SO not cool. Pretend it’s your mother-in-law. Do you really want to give her more ammunition?

That’s it for your homework. Not so bad or unreasonable, is it? So, good luck with your search for a new home and your move. Let me know how it goes or share your previous house-hunting stories. I’ll be here watching “Million Dollar Dream Homes I Can’t Afford.”
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Comment by AmyDoodle

Joined: 6/23/2009
Posts: 38
Great tips! Thorough and entertaining. Thanks!
Posted: Saturday, November 12, 2011 2:48:23 AM
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Comment by mcoly618

Joined: 5/2/2009
Posts: 472
I just wanted to let you know that we featured your essay on the Stage of Life Facebook page today. If you would like to check it, out go to

Feel free to share the news with your friends and family. You're famous! :)
Posted: Monday, November 14, 2011 2:23:11 PM
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Comment by WriterchickNancy

Joined: 10/16/2009
Posts: 6
Thanks, as always Amy, for your nice words! And Megan, thanks for letting me know re: posted on the FB page. Like I need another reason to obsessively hang out there...;-)
Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 4:14:57 PM
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Comment by DarkStar49

Joined: 5/28/2009
Posts: 332
Ratings! I think personally that some....ok, maybe not all, but some of the drama is the simple fact that they are on camera and are trying out for their own reality show! It seems like as the years of and amount of home search shows have evolved, it sometimes looks a little scripted?! That said, great points you have made. When we were searching, we made a 3 a day rule. Give time to absorb and contemplate what we had seen. We were practical about our decisions...likes and dislikes... and ended up after some serious searching finding the home that felt...well, for lack of a better phrase...."felt like home"!
Posted: Friday, November 18, 2011 5:40:29 PM
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Comment by Guest

Joined: 10/30/2008
Posts: 2,760
Thanks for being on point and on traegt!
Posted: Saturday, December 31, 2011 5:41:37 PM
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