Relationship Fitness

S9: Ownership E2: You Bought What?

In “Relationship Workout for Men” Season 9 Episode 2, titled “You Bought What?”, Vince recounts a tumultuous chapter from his relationship, marked by a significant dispute over a major financial decision. He shares the story of how, despite his attempt to involve his girlfriend in the process of buying a house, her disinterest led him to make the decision alone—a choice that sparked a year-long conflict. The episode captures the couple’s struggle with blame and the inability to take ownership of their respective roles in the communication breakdown, ultimately leading to their separation. Vince’s narrative sheds light on the complexities of partnership, decision-making, and the importance of mutual participation in relationship milestones.

Welcome to Relationship Workout for Men, a podcast dedicated to helping men be intentional in choosing a better partner, and being a better partner for the person they choose.

Season 9, Episode 2: You Bought What?

In this episode, I share a personal story when me and my girlfriend most certainly approached our relationship as blamers.

We had been dating for almost two years. A year prior she decided to go back to school at a university that was about a three-hour drive from where I lived. The plan was she’d attend this school for two years, graduate with her bachelor’s degree, then most likely we’d get married. We definitely loved each other.

In parallel, about a year prior I had sold my house. The time was coming up for me to buy something else to avoid paying capital gains taxes.

My plan was simple: buy a place to live in for a few years, then most likely turn it into a rental once she graduated. After all, we wouldn’t have a good idea of where we eventually would want to live until she finished her studies and had her first job offer.

Definitely being a bit analytical, I created a spreadsheet that modeled two options: Buy a two-bedroom condo or a small beat-up house on a big lot. My preference was to buy a house given I thought it would be a better investment. Regardless, I really didn’t have much money, so whatever I’d eventually buy would most definitely be at the bottom of the market.

So over Christmas break, I tried to talk to her about her thoughts and preferences. I figured we’d eventually get married, so I thought it was important that she was involved with the entire process. I tried to talk to her about the various options. I even took her to see a few potential places. All the time, she told me she didn’t care. “It was my decision to make,” she would say.

On the first day of classes, her second semester, she abruptly made the decision to transfer back to a university near where I was living. That school started a week later, so she had the weekend to move. Given the short time frame, her only option was to move in with me.

In parallel, I had found a real-estate agent and started looking at houses. Again, I tried to get her to look at properties with me. Again, she was not interested.

Then around 5pm one afternoon, I saw this beat-up home on a large lot. The property had just gone on the market at noon that day, and already had two offers on it. I had to make a decision right then if I wanted to put an offer down, as the owner was planning to review offers at noon the next day; the house was only going to be on the market for 24 hours. 

The house worked exactly into my model of a small house on a big lot in a great school district. This was before cell phones, so I couldn’t call my girlfriend. Besides, I knew she was in class until later that evening.

So, I decided to put an offer on the house. By noon the next day, my offer was accepted. 

When my girlfriend saw the place, she went ballistic. How dare I buy a place where she might live the rest of her life without consulting her! And, to boot, the place was a total disaster (which it was). I assured her that I’d fix the place up to live in and, besides, she wasn’t being asked to pay anything like rent. 

She said she couldn’t trust me and that I’d always be making decisions without her. I reminded her that she told me she didn’t want anything to do with my buying the house, essentially blaming her for not wanting to participate in the process. 

She stuck to her story that I was completely to blame for buying a house without her input. I stuck to my story that I was innocent and blamed her repeating she had told me she didn’t want anything to do with the house. We both stuck to our blaming guns and failed to realize that the issue likely ran deeper and expand the conversation beyond my buying the house without her input.

We fought about the house for over a year, all the time while living in that house. We even went to a therapist briefly for help. Nothing worked. Week after week, month after month, the same argument. Eventually we gave up and broke up. And this with a wonderful lady I loved and before my buying the house I was convinced she’d someday be my bride.

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