Sitting quietly in an over-lit conference room, we look at closing documents and mortgage papers on the long table in front of us. I am filled with a mix of relief and agitation at the commitment of buying a home. Polite talk fills the room until we settle down to business.
The closing agent hands us all of the paperwork, “Go ahead and start looking through it to make sure everything looks right.”
J looks pensive, studying the documents. He states, “Thank you so much. These look good. Can we change these to make the house only in my name?”
“What’s that? I don’t think I understand.”
“Well, I am just wondering if we can change it so the title will be in just my name? The loan is in my name alone so it makes sense.”
The agent answers a little confused, “Well, sure we can make that change. Are you sure?”
My face is hot with shame as I look at J dumbfounded. We are buying the home from friends and I want to crawl under the table thinking about what they must think of us, of me. I look over at our friends and the wife gives me an oh-honey look. The air in the room stagnates with suspended judgement. I think to myself, “He told you that he wanted the house to be only in his name. You should have seen this coming.” I look around the room and excuse myself.
J follows me out a couple minutes later.
I plead, “I don’t understand why you don’t want me on the title. We are married; why shouldn’t we own the house together? It feels like you want to leave me off so you can leave me anytime you want. We have two children together; are you wanting to leave?”
J rationalizes, “I just don’t think that women need to own property. I’m the man, and I should be the one that has property. You don’t need to be on it. You can live in my house.” I respond, “I don’t want to live in your house. I want to live in our house.”
And then I lived in our house.