My boyfriend and I recently bought a house together. We are not married, and we are not officially engaged. We talked long and hard about this decision before we made it, and we certainly didn't take it lightly. We are both thoroughly aware that, even though we aren't married, we have bound ourselves together from both a legal and a financial standpoint for the next 30 years. And we're happy with that decision. However, despite our happiness and sense of achievement at this landmark decision in our lives, we received a lot of doubt, criticism, and pushback from individuals in our lives who believe that if they wouldn't have done things this way, it isn't the best way for us to do things, either.
Now I'll be the first to agree that there are some entitled snowflake Millennials out there that meet the stereotypes that our parents paint of them. I'll also be the first to tell you that this is by no means a blanket definition of my generation, and neither myself nor my boyfriend fall under it. He's run multiple successful businesses on his path to finding a career that suits him, and I found myself on the ground floor of a rapidly growing startup. Both of our paths required an insane amount of work, and they didn't make the relationship any easier, either.
His career was on Long Island. Mine was in North Jersey. And the more successful each of us became, the harder it became to see an outcome that would leave us both fulfilled professionally. Our plan from the beginning had been to cater to whoever's career grew more rapidly or provided a better upside. As we both found success, nobody won or lost, and neither of us was willing to give it all up. We carried on like this for years, spending much of our income to visit one another on weekends. The longer it carried on, the clearer it became that we needed to solve for this issue. So we began talking about moving back in together.
However, this posed a problem. We finally came to the conclusion that his lucrative career was transient. His industry exists everywhere. While it would take time and work to build it up in Jersey, it existed and was a possibility. Therefore, we would go to Jersey. But he's a tradesman and to rent a space large and accessible enough for him to work out of was going to be quite the challenge. So off we went. After months of looking and only finding a few places that fit our needs and our budget, we went to visit the most lovely log cabin. It was a bit of a hike for me but it was perfect in terms of size and it aesthetically fit both of us quite well. While I was ready to sign a lease, he was smart enough to ask the owner a very important question: how much did you pay for this? Upon hearing the price all of our plans went out the window. The mortgage for a similar house would cost us not much more than my current rent, and we certainly had the downpayment we needed.
So we began house hunting. We ran numbers for weeks straight and came to the conclusion that if either of us did some contract work on the side here and there, we could easily pay our bills on one of our incomes alone. Whenever he found work in the area, it would be a great added bonus and we could increase our budgets for luxuries and do some work to the house, but it wasn't necessary before we moved. Which worked out well because we hadn't had that ability with the rentals we'd looked at. He would've had to find a job before we moved, and wouldn't have a shop to work out of or to store tools for the first few weeks to months of employment. Not exactly a great first impression. Not to mention that, if he wanted to go back to running his own business, he needed some time to make contacts in Jersey. This is much easier to do when you have time to meet with people, and harder to do when you have to rush to find any old full time job you can grab to make ends meet.
Then came an intense discussion: shouldn't we be married first? We knew this was a big step. A commitment. Not much smaller than getting married would be. And after some serious discussions we knew we were ready to make that leap. But we only had money for the house OR the wedding. The house will be worth something in 20 years. The wedding wouldn't. So we decided to wait on a wedding until we had built our savings back up, and to put every penny possible into the house. Should we at least get engaged? Well, if we're acknowledging that we're committing ourselves to one another, why not save the ring money for the downpayment for now? The house deed means as much emotionally to us as the ring would in terms of symbolizing commitment. And isn't how we feel about being together in this life the important aspect of all of this?
It was all well thought out. Very logically put together. He's been fixing up the few things we want renovated in the house while I work, and when he's ready to he'll make the decision to run his own business or to work for a company first. However, we've been criticized from all sides of this decision. We were told we were being financially irresponsible, despite our intense financial analyses and the fact that this was the most solid way to ensure that he wouldn't end up burning connections inadvertently by not having the resources to perform his job to the best of his ability. The only thing they saw was that he wouldn't have a job right away. Many only saw that we weren't married, that we hadn't fully committed ourselves to one another in the traditional sense. They couldn't see that this was our way of doing so and still having the future we'd dreamt of together. We will get married, when we're ready financially. And when we do, we'll already have a bright home and future awaiting us as husband and wife.
Times have changed. We don't have the economy to do things like our parents did. To throw a giant party right before putting a downpayment on the biggest purchase of our lives. What we do have is a commitment to one another and a commitment to building the best future we can together. I'm not saying the way we did things is right for everyone. But it's the way we chose to do it, because it's what fits our current situation and our needs the best. We're happy with that. Please don't tell us we're wrong for that. Our life isn't yours, and you never know someone's true perspective until you walk in their shoes. We're paying our bills, and we're living and loving life together. Isn't that enough?