How A Mortgage Affects Marriage

October 10, 2018  |  
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Taking on a mortgage—it seems at once like not a big deal because all of your friends are doing it, and at the same time it feels like the most significant decision you’ve ever made. With mortgages spanning 10, 15, 20 and even 30 years, this thing will be in your life for a while—even the ones that are relatively brief will be with you for a decade. You may even still be paying off your mortgage when retirement is around the corner, which could drive you to allocate some of your Roth IRA funds to that house of yours. It’s only natural that such a big change affects a marriage. But when those signs start popping up that you’re ready to quit the rent game and buy your own place, they cannot be denied. You just have to make sure you’re ready for what comes next. Here is how a mortgage can affect a marriage.

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It’s a new (bigger?) commitment

Getting a mortgage with someone is a brand new, major commitment. It’s like deciding to get married, all over again. Except now, the reality is that if the marriage doesn’t work out, the mortgage will make the divorce all the more complicated. In other words, you have to assess, again, if you’ll spend forever (or, 10 to 30 years) with this person. A mortgage makes you do that.

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Down payment disputes

You may not agree on how much to put down. Just because you can put down the maximum amount to bring those interest rates down doesn’t mean you should. Maybe you should hold onto some of those funds for other emergencies that come up—you wouldn’t want them tied up in the house if someone needed major surgery.

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Who has the credit for the loan?

Then there is the discussion about your two, respective credit scores. They may have never really affected your relationship before, but they will now. You’ll have to look at and discuss your credit scores before walking into the bank, so you know what to expect.

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The credit of one brings the loan down

The credit score of one individual may bring down the size of the loan the couple is eligible for, substantially. This, of course, can cause some tension.

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It all may fall on one

Maybe one person has enough income, and a high enough credit score, to be eligible for a loan on her own. That’s impressive, but that also puts a massive amount of pressure on just that person. And, it sort of brings into question…well whose house is this then?

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Co-signor stress

Should you find yourselves needing to bring in a co-signor, that’s another point of stress. Perhaps the only parent who would make a good co-signor is the last person you want to be financially tied to for that long.

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Buyer’s remorse and sleep

Buyer’s remorse is normal. You both may struggle to sleep for the first couple of months after buying your home, which will just make you both cranky. Don’t be surprised if you bicker a lot more in your first few months in your new house.

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Buyer’s remorse and sex

The stress of buyer’s remorse and this new, huge responsibility can cause your sex life to take a dive. You may have a gorgeous new master bedroom but it’s not seeing that much action.

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Feeling stuck in one place

It can strike you that you can’t move now. You don’t usually build equity for quite some time—often it can take ten years—so you’d better be sure this is the place you want to be for a long time.

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Working more to pay it off

You may find yourselves taking on second jobs or working longer hours to pay off your mortgage. You might suddenly realize you’d like to pay it off sooner rather than later, so you take on lots of extra work—but you barely see your partner.

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No career wiggle room

If anyone had dreams of changing careers or starting over in a new field, those are gone now. They have to be. Your mortgage cannot afford the financial hit of one partner jumping ship on career paths.

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The threat of a lost home

When you were a renter, if you had a good relationship with your landlord, you could get away with being a little late on rent sometimes. A lot of things had to happen in order for you to be evicted, and even if you were, you didn’t have a huge attachment to your rental property. Now, you’re attached to your house, but if you default on loan payments, the bank can take it. They may not be as lenient as a landlord was about allowing you to stay.

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That means instability for a family

That previously mentioned stress can cause a sense of instability for the family. If one person takes a pay cut or loses their job, suddenly the possibility of losing the family house comes into play.

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It’s the financial priority

Paying off the mortgage is the top financial priority. It comes before date nights, family trips, piano lessons, or elaborate birthday gifts. You all feel like the mortgage owns you, and not the other way around.

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A new debt

It can feel like you just got out of debt a-la student loan payments, and now you’re in it again. That’s not a good feeling, and it can cause some stress and depression in a relationship.

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