When Two Becomes One House

When Two Becomes One House

Does it matter if a newlywed couple move into a house that was initially solely owned by just one of them? 

It is a question that’s answer can have long lasting impact on a relationship. I neither have, nor have seen statistical data on this. However, I have seen on more than a few occasions where the seeds of what is interpreted as disrespect was sown in these first few months.

The Scenario

A couple meets, falls in love, gets engaged and starts determining where they are going to live after, “I Do”. But a long-term lease, an upside down mortgage or potential long daily commute stand in the way. So, logic presents a great solution, “You can just move into my house”.

In no way is there an issue of morality here. There is no problem. It is logical, it is convenient. It solves a problem. However, there are a few conversations that might need to be had and some rules that need to laid out first.

  1. What kind of space do you both need? Where we live is about more than where we sleep at night. A great discussion to have is, about the space you will need. Some people need their own place to unwind after a long day. Some have a need for their own office, workout or recreational space. Personally, I need all of that and I get a little “crabby” if I work hard all day and I don’t have a place of my own to chill in. What personal space do you or your spouse need?
  2. Do you have equal say in decisions? Ok, it was and is his or her house, but now you are married. Are you free to make decisions? Can you hang a picture or move a couch without asking or feeling like you are crossing some sacred line? It is really a matter of individual preference that changes from relationship to relationship. But, you may want to talk about “balance” in the house. On the other side of this story, this has been your home, it no doubt has sentimental value to you. It was your first home or maybe even where you raised your children or even lived with your first spouse. Now, someone else is leaving water rings on the coffee table and walking into spaces that have been yours alone for the last few years. It may not have even came into your mind, how much this house means until someone else started calling it home too. So, it may now be best for both of you to talk about who has what responsibilities in the home. How do you really feel about sharing your home or moving into what was their home?
  3. Do you both feel this is your home? I was speaking to a couple a while back and the husband of this ten year marriage kept referring to their house as “her house”. Of course not for all, but for some relationships, home ownership is a major fault line. “This is my house.”, can be the first thing raised in an argument and it has a way of alienating one or both spouses into emotional spaces that can work as a wedge to divide a couple. Have you, regardless of how long you have been married, established that this is “our” home?

As the last point alluded to, there can be long lasting implications to starting a marriage living in his or her previously owned home. Although, a couple may not link problems later in their marriage to their early living arrangement, it is quite possible that, that is the very source of their problems. The one word that could capture the potential challenges is “Respect”. Without paying attention to what each of you need, you might be inadvertently be sowing longterm seeds of disrespect into your marriage. I say inadvertently because we are not talking about out right tearing up a persons house. Instead, what typically happens is that normal early marriage concerns around learning to live with each other are magnified when either consciously or subconsciously a couple are not able to move one persons house to a house for two. So what do you think EYM, how has your marriage dealt with the merging of two houses into one?

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4 thoughts on “When Two Becomes One House

  1. Jennifer Marion

    I have friends who are married and she moved into the house he previously purchased with a fiancée and later broke up. It has had an impact on how she feels for sure. I think I would have encouraged them to sell the home and buy one together if I had known them before they married.

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