Husbands, let your wife have the house she wants

Below is one of my favorite commercials from the Super Bowl, though I disagree with the premise. I do appreciate the humor though. The message to married men, perhaps not completely tongue-in-cheek, is “you’ve sacrificed a lot, but surely there is a limit to your chivalry. Drive the car you want to drive”.

The commercial aims to portray married men as whipped dogs suffering under the oppressive thumb of dominating wives who’ve stripped us of our manhood via forced compliance with petty etiquette, housekeeping and social demands. The only hope for retaining our last bit of manhood, according to the message, is to drive a manly gas guzzler with a throaty sounding exhaust system, chiseled lines and lots of horsepower. Thus the title of the piece, “Man’s Last Stand”. Let’s have a look.

OK, so I have something else to add to the list of statements that could have been included in this commercial:

“I will let you make the final decision on which house we buy”.

Should husbands defer and give the final decision of which house to buy to our wives? Absolutely. As a husband, I’ve never once regretted letting my wife have her way or over-ride me on decisions related to house, home or kids. I also pick up my laundry, try to remember to put down the toilet seat, say “yes” when I know it’s the only practical answer, keep my mouth shut when when no upside utterance exists. Luckily I’m not forced to watch vampire shows or walk a dog, but do any of these other things make me less of a man? No.

As a buyer agent, I’ve pulled more than one husband aside and delivered this exact “”As a husband, I’ve never once regretted …” script. I think every husband who wants to impose his house hunting requirements on a reluctant wife should consider what I have to say.

A house is a home. Family completes the home, whether “family” is a freshly married couple without kids, or aging baby boomers (like us) with teens. Most of my men friends are like me. We’re simple creatures. I can function in just about any living space. I could live in a garage and be happy. But no matter where I live, life is much better when my wife is completely happy. Much of her happiness is derived from our living circumstances, our home.

At present, as our youngest daughter approaches the end of her K-8th years at our nearby private school, Sylvia wants to move to Westlake where our youngest can live in the same neighborhood as the kids she will attend school with at Westlake High. Many of these kids she already knows from volleyball league.

Our oldest attends Westlake High as a transfer student while we remain in Oak Hill. This has been fine except that she never invites school friends over. She thinks they’ll think it’s weird that she lives so far, way out in Oak Hill. She thinks her friend’s parents will find it inconvenient to drive them “way out here” and pick them up. All of her social interaction and group studying outside of school happens at her friend’s houses, some of whom live within walking distance from Westlake High.

We’ve remained in Oak Hill because we live three blocks from our younger daughter’s school. Our oldest can, when needed, drive herself to school and to meet with friends. So the commuting logistics make more sense to remain closer to the private school. But when our oldest heads to college and the youngest enters 9th grade, that logistical challenge will be eliminated. We could remain where we are and enroll our youngest as a transfer student as well, but Sylvia doesn’t want her to suffer the same geographic dislocation issues that bother our oldest, so we’re making the move to Eanes ISD either this summer or next, depending on whether our current home sells fast or not.

My Opinion, and Does it Matter?
As a man, I pooh pooh this location issue and the related hand wringing over where the kids live. I understand the reasoning, but I think it’s much ado about nothing. Our oldest has lots of Westlake friends, and if the truth were told, she would invite them over if we had a Wii and a ping pong table. She says there is “nothing to do” at our house because we don’t have Cable TV, video games or other entertainment. I tell her they could take a hike out our back yard through the woods and go exploring miles of creek beds and wildlife. Or they could play cards. She rolls her eyes.

Furthermore, our house in Oak Hill is actually a closer, faster drive to Westlake High than it is for those who live in Barton Creek West and Senna Hills in Eanes. Google Maps proves it. To be truly close, within walking distance of Westlake High School, in the neighborhood Sylvia likes, we’re looking at 1970/1980s homes that are 1600-2200 sqft starting at around $200+ per square foot, with low popcorn ceilings, small bathrooms and tired, dark kitchens. That’s a pretty big step down in size and quality from the home we currently enjoy.

But none of this matters. It’s not a battle I choose the wage. If my wife Sylvia wants to live in Westlake, Westlake is where we’re going to live. When she’s happy, we’re all happy. She knows best. I assess these things with logic. She has the benefit of a Mother’s Heart. Her intuition and instinct trumps my logic. Of this I am certain, and it is without reservation that I defer to her better judgment.

Does this make me a whipped, emasculated Yes-Boy, like those dudes in the Dodge video? No, it makes me a smart husband with a happy wife and great kids. What greater success is there in life for a man? Since when did being a considerate, decent human being who doesn’t leave his dirty socks laying around make a man less of a man? Since when did a man willing to listen to and respect the wants and desires of his wife become less of a man? Sure, the commercial is funny, and it bears a grain of truth, but it dishonors the collaborative relationship and compromise that makes good marriages work.

At the risk of sounding sexist, I admit to believing that women have a nesting instinct that men lack. So men, if you and your wife are on the exact same page with regard to price, location, schools and the physical attributes you seek in a home, more power to you. But if she has wants and requirements that you don’t understand or agree with, I’m telling you to let her have her way. Just do it. Don’t argue. She knows best. She does.

Acknowledging that and being happy with your willingness defer to her better wisdom is the “manliest” thing you, as a husband, can do, no matter what car you drive.

29 thoughts on “Husbands, let your wife have the house she wants”

  1. Steve,
    You are just the greatest writer and observer of humans…which of course makes you a great husband, father, and realtor.
    Thank you,

  2. Hi, Steve: I like the way you worked in this commercial. Having only heard it for the first time this morning, it was very timely and immediately caught my attention.
    As a fellow husband of a great woman, and father of two daughters, I will admit there are times I feel like running around the house and marking my territory as a last ditch effort to save my masculinity. But you’re right – as civilized men, we must resist these urges and let the wife make these important decisions.
    In all seriousness, please use my experience as a counter-example.
    When we moved to Texas, I flat out refused to consider a home in the areas of Austin we could afford for all of the same reasons you mention about the home in Westlake, We found a big house in East Round Rock on a small lot that was partially under construction that was every thing I [thought I] wanted. Or so I thought. Here we are almost 8 years later, with no increase in property value, a school that fights each year to remain Recognized, in a middle school district with floating boundaries, etc. If I had listened to my wife, we would have been living near Anderson and 183, in RRISD with better performing schools, on track to an Exemplary Middle School and Westwood H.S., and would have had the pleasure of seeing an increase in our property value.
    The point of my long story: You’re right. And so was my wife. I should stick to the things that I know and let her make the judgment calls in all matters of family. She always finds a way to have everyone’s best interest.

  3. This is exactly why we moved to Westlake – the best schools in town and everyone knows it. Thankfully we both agreed that living in a 1970’s “fixer upper” for $170 a sqft was worth it. I have not regretted the move for a single moment. Plus I love the ride down redbud into the city with no traffic at 5pm on fridays and lower taxes in the highlands!

  4. Great post Steve and thanks for sharing that commercial!

    Julie and I rarely argue about where we live (or want to live), thankfully, so it’s a non-issue with us. And, at the end of the day, I seem to make the decisions more so on housing than she does, mostly because I am the nit-picky detailed, researching type. But, that being said, I am a lucky man and if Julie ever wants to pick the house, I will certainly step aside and follow her along as I do in many other parts of our life together.

    I look forward to following your posts more!

    Cheers and Go CANADA Go!!!!

  5. Your wife may know best but if you’ve ever watched even 5 minutes of HGTV you’d know that women are just as idiotic in their home-buying decisions as men. Reaching an orgasmic state over silly trendy finishes as stainless steel appliances and granite countertops is not only illogical but plain short-sighted.

  6. I’m sick and tired of my wife pressuring me to buy a house! It’s beginning to affect our otherwise fantastic relationship that we’ve enjoyed for 12 years. I refuse to be forced into buying a house by her constantly complaining about it to me. It’s starting to really make me resentful that she won’t knock it off. FOR MANY REASONS, it would probably be best to stay in our apartment right now. Financially it would certainly make more sense for us not to buy a house. She has her “reasons” and I understand them, but the costs DO NOT outweigh the benefits for us right now. Your post about just caving in and giving her what she wants is idiotic! What a basis for a relationship that is! Sorry, I cannot agree with you. Yes, I could end my suffering if I just gave in, but I’m afraid it would only introduce MORE PAIN down the road.

    • It is sad you think you are giving in by pleasing your wife. That is the issue, when you are not open to negotiate in a marriage. I believe such mentality is very destructive as is usually reflected in many important aspect of your marriage, such as intimacy. What you are really wasting is energy and time. For example, instead of creating good and pleasant memories with your wife, you are creating a barrier of distress that finally would result in the detriment of your marriage. It is a gradual process, but shattering. Wait and see…
      Selfishness brings a miserable marriage and later a devastating divorce…

  7. You’re way off on this and I know this from personal experience. I did let my wife choose our ‘dream home’ despite the fact that there were a number of shortcomings and concerns that I had about the property. Nonetheless, despite my misgivings and concerns, I went ahead and bought the house so that my loving wife would be happy. 15 years later I regret this decision immensely. Despite hoping for the best, the issues and concerns that I had about the house and neighborhood did become problems and our quality of life has been negatively impacted. During the consideration process for buying the house, I made it clear that I had great concerns and ultimately I said that I was not prepared to move forward without looking at other homes first. My wife response was then a childish tantrum, complete with water works about how badly she wanted the house. In the end, I gave in so that my wife would be happy and that she would have the house she wanted, In doing so, however, I sacrificed much of my own happiness, and that has negatively affected our marriage to the point that we are now on the verge of divorce…all over her ‘dream house.’ You are wrong, Husbands should not blindly allow their wives to choose the house. That must be a joint decision.

    • Yes, it needs to be a negotiation, a house both like since marriage is all about negotiating. For example, my selfish husband chose the state, the house, the area in town, and even dared to buy lots of furniture without even consulting me. That was 11 years ago when I was visiting my mother in a foreign country. He said I needed ASAP to sign a disclaimer in the U.S Embassy since he didn’t want to lose the house deal. Thus, he forced me to sign such disclaimer. Guess what? After many unilateral decisions from his part, as well as more dishonesty, I separated from him. It is five years I live very tranquil in a modest home, which I have fixed and decorated to my taste; thus, it feels like a real home to me. While his big and expensive house is not inviting as it is a cave man. He also keeps begging me to comeback as he insists he needs me. His house is a complete disaster as his consciousness is.
      I understand he needs someone to subjugate to feel alive. A woman without a voice, so that is what is really missing in his dull life. Thus, when there is not equality, it is impossible to be treated as equal in a relationship when your spouse is an oppressor.

  8. Holy cow, you really think a harmonious relationship is just deferring everything towards your wife and not taking into account finances and your personal happiness? I’m quite glad I am not in that type of marriage.

  9. Steve, me and my long term fiancé have had a relatively harmonious relationship. Until we decide to move country so that we could find a nest together. She decided to locate her nest near her family, after initial reluctance I committed that we moved to the house, but we only had to pay it some months later. Now 2 months later I am pressured from both her and her family to finalize the move but I am unsure. And so everythings quickly come to the verge of a breakdown. And now I don’t feel like following her decision because it sounds like pain down the road.

    Steve, perhaps you are right. I would say both partners need to agree on this decision or at the least be fine about it. I agree with you: woman have a nesting instinct than man usually lack. But if a man doesn’t feel like following it, what’s next? Divorce/breakup? I came here because of the pain of our current situation. Perhaps I do have a fear of commitment and she is missing patience about my reluctance, or perhaps I should just quit the relationship and move. Perhaps I would do the commitment if it would be another house, away from her family. Perhaps I should go ahead and commit and then a breakup will happen nevertheless and we will have to face a divorce/house problem. Unsure about what to do…

  10. Thank You. As a wife and a mother, I agree that the home is our workplace. We feel it more so there than any office. My husband is forcing me to move into a dark house atop a steep hill because he likes the backyard and its four side brick. I see so many reasons not to move into it. Our current house which I worked on and hired out tasks to make it marketable went pending quickly, and I think he wanted to select something so the typical 30-45 day transition time could be met before we had to move out. He verbally abused me calling me insane and and crazy for not wanting the house and yelled at me evening and morning until I signed the documents to move ahead. We close in November, but it will be no Thanksgiving for me. Intstead, the dark, sunless, one window basement house will only push me closer to divorce despite the children. It’s a low conflict household as long as he gets his way about big things such as car to buy, house to buy. And I have a job raising the children which keeps me busy. To the outsiders, it seems like a regular family. But if I go against what he wants in big things like what car to purchase or what house, he yells at me. Then denies to me that he ever did. I grew up with 3 sisters and two brothers. I never saw temper like what I have seen in him over 20 years. He has broken chairs by smashing them, punched a hole in the wall, thrown things to break a hole in closet door or the wall trim. And the explosive temper when pushed to far. Strangely, it’s quiet as long as he gets his way in big things. In small things, he doesn’t care. Men, for most women, the house is the heart of the family. Try to compromise if she wants a house other than the one you want. Maybe there’s a third option out there that both can agree to purchase. This house issue is big enough to affect many couples.

  11. I did a search for how to convince my wife to buy a piece of real estate and a link to this article came up and the contents of it are exactly what I needed to here. Thank you for helping me to do a 180. What you write is so-o-o true. I can’t thank you enough and if my wife new what helped me to shift, I bet that she’d thank you too.

  12. My response is especially for Tom, Greg, L, and Jeff who seem they don’t believe in equality in a marriage. It is not all about you guys, who make the money. It is about negotiating. If you want to make all the important decisions in your life, stay single…

  13. that’s right, give her the house you want so she can take it in the divorce, don’t compromise and don’t exceed your predetermined budget.

  14. This is exactly why lots of us happy guys are now married to gorgeous thai women in Asia. I also have a place in waikiki where I watch in amazement as the women give their husbands ” the look ” whenever they voice their opinion. They quickly shrink and shut up. Because an unhappy American women is going to make their sad pathetic sexless life a living hell until they learn to give her all decision making power. The retired guys have to eventually flee to golf courses or places where they can sneak a drink without Her knowing. My lovely young Thai wife and I decide everything together. And I love watching what she wants and try my best to give it to her. She always says “it’s up to you darling “. And ultimately it is my decision. ….exactly like my own parents in the good old days and why they loved each other in a 60 year marriage.

  15. I know this is an ancient post but I’m actually in tears reading it. My husband wouldn’t compromise on anything as he had such clear ideas where he wanted to live and in what kind of house so after being told I as small minded and had no aspirations I agreed to move to where he wanted. I was pregnant at the time and after baby was born I spent four years feeling like I was living somewhere that wasn’t my home. I spent all day every day alone looking after baby and was nowhere near any of my family. Four years later he finally agreed to move somewhere less remote. On the day we were moving to our next place he said please know I will always resent you for making me sell my dream home. It makes me so happy to read that a man wants his wife to be happy even if he has to compromise a bit. I wasn’t even allowed to view houses I liked as they weren’t what he wanted. After ten years I thought the way my now ex was was normal and I was selfish to expect more. I just wanted somewhere that would be a good fit for us both.

    Thank you for posting this. Makes me feel like maybe it wasn’t all my fault after all. X

  16. A relationship is teamwork and mutual respect, not always deferring to one or the other. I defer to him on things he is more experienced and knowledgeable about and he does the same for me. If something really really matters to him I let him have it, and vice versa. A good question to ask is “how much do you really care about this?”. If you’re accustomed to giving each other straight answers it can get to the heart of the decision really quickly, for houses or cars or anything.

    In terms of houses, he just wanted a place close to work that was not on a busy road and within a certain price range. I had way more requirements since I work AT home. Most of the decisions were therefore on me, but I worked within his needs. It’s not that hard, and like we tell each other, if we hate it in a few years we can always move again!

  17. Steve, it’s so wonderful to hear your opinion about houses. My home is everything to me. The only thing more important is my family, of course.

    My late husband didn’t care about anything to do with the house or decorating it at all. He was happy with whatever I wanted and would do his best to make it happen for me, as long as we could afford it. I always made sure that we could afford it too. But he always said he wouldn’t care if I “painted the whole inside of the house black with weird stripes” or whatever as long as it made me happy.

    I miss that! I love my new husband dearly, but he has stronger decorating opinions and and I don’t get to choose what I want for my home like I used to! He is more practical and I love the true antique, vintage restorations. I really find that hard sometimes.

  18. I agree in principle that “happy wife=happy life”. However, when it comes to a house, we’ve come to have opposite opinions after our kids were born. We both work, her from home and me in a 30 minute drive from our current house. She now wants to pick up and move closer to her family in the “suburbs”. True, her family does provide some child care for us, but the move would increase my commute from 30 minutes to well over an hour each way. It doesnt affect her since she works from home but cannot understand my reluctance to add 1:20 to my total drive time each day.

    I wish there was a compromise here, but we are at an impasse. After 12 years of marriage and a 6 & 7 year old kids, there does not seem to be light at the end of the tunnel.

    • Michael I am in the same boat as you right now. House she is in love with will put me from 2 hrs a day to 3 hours a day round trip but she still thinks it is worth the sacrifice for the family. I can’t get get to nudge but she cant force me to sign on the dotted line either. The house she wants doesn’t exist close enough to the city for what we can reasonably afford.

  19. I agree with Steve. I love our current place, which my wife encouraged us to buy, but she does not. I have fought moving but it was a mistake as she kept wanting us to look for houses every weekend. I finally agreed to move, and she is very grateful for my change of attitude, and we have found a perfectly good place. Should have done this years ago.

  20. My husband and I are currently going through the same debate. When we got married, I had to move away from my family and friends and move into his house (it was the recession and he was upside down while I was renting). Now it is 8 years and a kid later and we need to move because his tiny bachelor house is not compatible with children. I want to move back to my town. The cost of living is lower, we would be able to afford a really nice house, the schools are better. He wants to stay in our current town and get a house closer to his best friend. These houses are older, but in a very desirable neighborhood so the only ones we would be able to afford are the ones that are run down and shabby. He agrees with me on all but one point. He does not want to be away from his friend. He would rather buy the run down shabby house that we can’t afford to fix up because the cost of living is so high and with a poor school district, than be a 45 minute drive away from his friend. Am I crazy for being frustrated with this? Sure, I could live in a shabby house and make the best of it, but it feels like his friendship trumps what is best for the family.

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