Today we’re here to talk about something serious. Well, serious enough for us to make an acronym, so that must count for something. It is this…
Spousal Lag In Moving Syndrome
We see it quite often, particularly in the more ‘mature’ mover. This couple is in their mid 50s to mid 70s. Usually they start the moving process as a lone ranger. Bill is at home watching the final round of The Masters while Martha heads out to look at homes. Or even worse, Bill is here but he won’t get out of the car.
The seriousness of the situation is palpable. Martha openly confides, in hushed tones, that she really wants to move but ‘my husband….well, he doesn’t want to talk about it’. The motivators for moving usually involve large yard maintenance, the urge to lock the door and travel without concern for the house, stairs and unused/unneeded living space.
Then after enough tense dinner conversations, Bill agrees to pop in to look at a few of these open houses. He’s quiet. A lot of exhaling with very little, if any, direct contact with the REALTOR. Answers to questions are generally given in 2 or 3 words sentences while Martha offers her encouraging narrative. “Oh that’s nice Bill….see? They have laundry next to the main bedroom”.
This scenario can play itself out for weeks, months or if buyer fatigue sets in, years. The truth of the matter, sometimes it gets to the sad point where the option to move changes from voluntary to mandatory.
And if you are on your own, this scenario can play itself out as well. We have seen individuals sway back and forth in a state of indecision while everyone and their brother offer their unsolicited advice on the right next step(s).
So what to do if you’re in this situation?
Consider these scenarios and how they relate to you:
1. Exterior Maintenance: Cutting the grass and maintaining the gardens is getting to be too much for you. The cost to have someone else take care of it is (a) acceptable and worth the money or (b) far too expensive.
2. Underused Space Analysis: On a piece of paper, draw a grid. Down the left side, list all of the rooms in your home. Across the top put time blocks in 1 hour increments. Depending on the size of your home, you may need to go to Staples to get some larger paper. Have one of these ready for each day. Then over the next 2 weeks, track what rooms you use and when by putting an “x” in the square or by writing simple notes. So, if from 7:30 to 9:30 you were in the rec room watching Police Academy 6. (hey…we’re not here to judge!), mark those squares with an “x”. Then after those 2 weeks go by, you may be surprised to find out how much of your home you do or do not use. We find a lot of people are reluctant to downsize from space they aren’t currently using.
3. Pros and Cons: A good old-fashioned pros & cons list. Your first list should be done selfishly, honestly and independently. Forget about Bill and his Lazy-Boy for a moment. What are the pros and cons for Martha? What benefits would there be for your lifestyle, health and happiness? Make sure Bill does the same. Then, when it is a good time (only you can judge that!) sit down and review these together. Where do your lists agree and disagree? What commonalities are there and where are you different. If nothing else, you’ll find this will help get a dialogue going where you can get a feel for where you are at in the process.
And of course, if you are on your own, this still applies. Sometimes seeing priorities, needs and wants written on paper in our hand writing has a powerful effect in motivating us to do something we were otherwise reluctant to do.
4. Take a Poll: If you have friends or family living in condo apartments or townhomes, ask them. You’ll find people have gone through a similar process to yours. Angst, stress and second-guessing are quite often part of the process. Go have a coffee with someone you know in their townhome or condo. What was the move like? How long did it take you to settle in? What about your furniture…was there enough room? Do you find it claustrophobic? You may find you’re pleasantly surprised at the responses you hear.
Significant change causes apprehension. That is a normal part of most of our lives as far as we can tell. So, accept that is a part of it and start moving forward. Even tiny steps are steps. Having a plan though is really the best, first step towards a move that allows you to feel more in control and comfortable.
If we can help you make sense of your uncertainty, please feel free to call or email us anytime. We are happy to help!
Thank-you for visiting.