Joint Accounts

Our Money Pit of a House Is Hurting Our Marriage

Fixing it up is making us broke and miserable

Kristin Wong
Published in
4 min readNov 4, 2019
Illustration: Laurie Rollitt

Dear Joint Accounts,

Two years ago, my husband and I bought our first home and almost immediately regretted it. Our home required so much fixing up (and still does) that it’s become a major added stress in both our lives.

We’re so miserable that even though moving wouldn’t be financially advantageous, I think it’s worth it. My husband disagrees — he thinks that we’re too financially tied to the house, even though the stress is putting a strain on our relationship. Am I being too shortsighted on this? Or is he being stubborn?


Bring on the Packing Boxes

SSomething that drives me crazy is how we tend to treat homeownership as an unqualified good move. Contrary to popular belief, buying a home is not always a sound investment. Too often, people feel pressured to transition from renting to owning just because it feels like the next step, or because they believe they should. You’re past this point, but it bears repeating for other potential homeowners: A mortgage is a loan, and just because there’s a house attached to that loan doesn’t mean it’s always smart to stretch your finances to take on the debt. A home is presumably the biggest purchase of your life, so it’s crucial that you take plenty of time to consider it.

On to your predicament. You can take at least a little comfort in the fact that you’re far from alone. Plenty of first-time homebuyers find themselves “house poor,” spending so much on the down payment and closing costs that they have little cash left over once they move in. It’s a financially vulnerable place to be, especially when even more maintenance and repair projects pop up — and they inevitably will.

Now that you’re here, though, let’s break down the factors, both financial and emotional, that can help you and your husband decide whether to stay or go.

As a general rule of thumb, the longer you stay in your home, the more it pays off — you’re paying off the principal of your loan over time, while your home appreciates in value. Typically, at the beginning of your mortgage, most of your…



Kristin Wong
Writer for

Kristin Wong has written for the New York Times, The Cut, Catapult, The Atlantic and ELLE.