Keeping Up With The Joneses

Erin and I have had frequent discussions about what it might be like to own a larger home. Our 1300-square-foot townhouse has served us well for more than a decade. But there’s always that desire to have what others have.

Mood music:

The discussion usually starts with everything that needs fixing around here: A hole in the kitchen wall that gets bigger every time the front door is slammed against it. Chipped and mismatched paint. Toilets that constantly need plunging.

For all our work success, we never seem to make enough money to do things we might want to do, like fixing the items above, gutting the kitchen or buying a bigger house.

To me, there’s a mental health issue at play: Your surroundings have a big affect on your sanity. When my OCD was at its worst, I was delirious over how clean the floors were or how the curtains were arranged. I became a nutcase when the kids made a mess.

Now, admittedly, I’ve become something of a slob in my recovery. I can walk right by a mess and not notice a thing.

Erin, on the other hand, finds it harder to have clarity and peace of mind when the house is a mess and falling apart.

As a kid, I grew up in excessive cleanliness and some filth. My mother was always obsessive about keeping a squeaky clean house. But I can’t say I was particularly happy in those years. After my parents divorced and my father got the house, he was so focused on the family business much of the time that the house became a mess — even with housekeepers. Erin grew up in a house that was always in disrepair. But her parents had — and have — a strong marriage and raised four daughters. It was a warm and happy home.

To me a house with holes in the walls is a pain in the ass. But it beats an immaculate house where the mood is always tense.

I know a lot of people who try to keep up with the proverbial Joneses. They bury themselves in debt they can never get out of and they never seem to be happy. They have to have a TV as big as their neighbors. They have to have a nicer car, a bigger yard.

It doesn’t seem worth it to me anymore.

Though I will admit there are days where I wouldn’t mind a bigger house and someone to clean it for us.


One thought on “Keeping Up With The Joneses

  1. Hah! The husband and I have a similar conversation. We probably have a similar-sized house; it’s a townhouse, for sure. It’s about 15 years old, we’ve been in it for six, and it’s … um … lived in. I don’t particularly want to move into a large house with the commensurately large mortgage; I hate the feeling of being indebted to the bank. So we’re sort of negotiating over how and when we’ll do a facelift on the place.

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