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A few weeks ago, my husband and I were having drinks with two friends who had just bought a house together—a fixer-upper they plan to tear down to the studs and rebuild in a labor of love. They are in their 30s and have been dating eight years.

“So is the ring next?” My husband asked them, half-joking.

“No way!” the woman said without even glancing at her significant other. “We aren’t ready for that kind of commitment.”

They’re not ready for the “commitment” of marriage, but happy to fling themselves into buying a house together? However strange this situation may sound, my friends have plenty of company.

My husband and I have been married 15 years, and have three children. To most people, that sounds like a commitment. And yet, no decision in my life felt quite as serious and deep as buying a house. The fact I made this pivotal purchase with my husband certainly complicated matters further, but make no mistake, the “house” part of this threesome is what has weighed most heavily on me over the years. Here’s why, at least to me, buying a house feels like way more of a commitment than walking down the aisle will ever be.

1. You can return a ring—but not a house

Truth: I got engaged three times, to three different men, before one finally took. It’s sad, painful, and gut-wrenching to break off an engagement, but regardless of how close you are to the wedding date, you still have an escape hatch. In fact, there are almost always clauses that allow at least a 50% refund from wedding vendors if someone gets cold feet.

There is no such return on a house. It’s just about impossible to “return a home” after you’ve bought it. And that means there’s no wiggle room to change your mind—or, if you do, you’re looking at a much bigger financial loss than some flowers.

2. A house can’t go into counseling

Even the best couples in the world go through rough patches, and when they do, counseling…

 

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