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Author: JAFO31 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 6774  
Subject: Re: Help for a Fool with a non-foolish spouse Date: 12/27/2000 7:16 PM
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QuarterKing: "Help!! My spouse will not agree to purchase a house. We have a very good income (combined $75K to $85K which is about three times the local average) and have been renting for four years. My spouse has personal 'issues' with owning a house. I don't want this to end our seventeen years of marriage, but it is threatening to do so.

I need some support from other fools out there. I have been able to do a lot right financially for our family. I have gotten rid of our credit card debt, began a modest portfolio, opened Educational IRAs for our two children, switched my long distance (with savings to the tune of almost $100 per month!!), and even am paying off my graduate loans in advance. I'm also saving by using coupons when possible, using the net for great savings, and I'm saving in advance for my next car.

The 'next piece' of the financial pie for us should be to buy a house, but I'm stuck with my largest monthly bill being a dead loss in a rent check.

Any helpful ideas out there? I'm stressing out about this."


First, WRT to your stress level, buying a house is not necessarily a better financial move then renting. Much depends upon your circumstances and the local market, AND also about a whole host of assumptions that need to be made to run any kind of analysis.

Second, I am confused about two statements you made:

A. "My spouse has personal 'issues' with owning a house."

Psychology is not my strong suit, but it seems to me that you need to address these personal issues, whatever they are, in a way that is acceptable to your wife and to you. None of us can even begin to guess at solutions because you have not elaborated upon the reasons--- and maybe you never will (or never will want to on a public forum).

In a sideways move, have you ever read "Geting to Yes" by Fischer and Ury? This is a book about negotiating, and I recommend it often -- it short, easy to read, and very useful (a trifecta). In this book, they discuss the difference between positions and interests and the need to get behind the position and address the interest.

The example I recall I recall is a married couple arguing about whether to sleep with the bedroom window open or closed. Each had staked out a position on one side or the other; when forced to discuss why (the interest) the closed window person could not stand sleeping with a direct draft and the open window person wanted to smell the outdoor air and hear the night sounds. Solution, open master bath window - no direct draft and enough smell of outdoor air and hearing the night sounds.

Not wanting to own a house is your spouse's position, but what is her real interest?

B. "I don't want this to end our seventeen years of marriage, but it is threatening to do so."

Now your position seems just as odd to me. Referring back to the same book, the authors also discuss what they call the BATNA - best alternative to a negotiated solution. IOW, if you cannot address your spouse's interest and convinve her to buy, is a divorce (and then buying a house?) really the best alternative available to you? Better than remaining married and renting? If yes, then I am surmising that either there are other issues involved not discussed in the post or you have your own 'issues' WRT needing to buy a house.

Not to climb on my high horse here, because ultimately you will decide what is best for you --- BUT you post mentions two children. From everyhting I have read divorce is very traumatic to many (most?) children, even those that appear to be coping, and the results of the trauma do not become as obvious until years later when the children cannot seem to maintain positive, long-term relationships. What I would suggest is that whenever you perform this calculus for BATNA, do consider the effect on your children.

I hope this helps (and I also hope that it does not sound too preachy).

Regards, JAFO

PS - Ury has also written a sequel titled "Getting Past No", which I also highly recommend.
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