Surprising Your Wife With A House Is Not A Sweet, Romantic Gesture
In an earlier post, I commented that the only appropriate way to respond to a gift–even an unwanted gift–was with gratitude and a polite thank you note, but I was wrong. You are absolutely allowed to skip the thank-you note if your partner ever surprises you by saying, “Hi, honey! I used our money to buy a house without consulting you. Merry Christmas!”
Actually, do send a thank-you note, and make sure the envelope is stuffed with divorce papers.
Buying a house without telling a partner sounds so alien to me that I assumed it was fictional, or that maybe one person had done it one time and everyone else in the world realized it was a terrible idea. But The Washington Post actually found several men who had done it. (The article includes no women who thought this was a good idea.)
New York real estate agent Ryan Serhant said he saw one man buy an apartment in New York without telling his wife, and she wanted to live in Miami.
“She was upset, and he ended up renting it out—it was a big disaster,” he said.
Cliff Zelenko thought it was a good idea to surprise his wife, Faith, with a two-bedroom two-bath fixer-upper on New York’s Upper East Side.
“Surprise! This is your new home,” he said when they walked in.
When she burst into tears, he started to get the idea that maybe, just maybe, buying a house without consulting his partner was a big damn mistake. 11 years and a huge renovation later she says she loves it now, but the whole idea sounds wildly inappropriate to me. Even when a couple has a ton of money, as these couples all appear to, making big decisions unilaterally does not seem to indicate a healthy relationship based on mutual respect.
But because I compulsively must consider all sides of a situation and all theoretical options, I wracked my brain to see if there were any situations in which I would be OK with my partner buying a house without telling me. It turns out there are! Those situations include:
1. We live in different cities for some reason, and it was previously agreed that he would buy a house of his choice within a certain budget.
2. It is a vacation house paid for with his money that is not my money, and we collectively have so much money that we swim around in it like Scrooge McDuck on weekends.
3. My husband magically transforms into renowned host and fashion designer Valentino for exactly 24 hours and uses that time period to buy the perfect house before the taste and money disappear at midnight.
4. I am in the military and deployed somewhere while he is taking care of everything at home and it was agreed upon in advance.
5. It is a dollhouse.
What do you think? Is there ever a situation where it is OK to buy a house without consulting one’s spouse?