Wendyl Nissen

Wendyl Nissen on being 'The Supportive Wife'

Wendyl Nissen: Please, darling, just buy me my house

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

I've read books and watched movies in which a woman falls in love with a man, they get married and he takes her to the home he has bought (or built) so they can start their wonderful life together.

She has never seen this home. It has a picket fence. The kitchen is remarkable. An open fire is roaring.

He just bought it without thinking to let her look at it first, knowing intuitively that she would be delighted. And in every book and movie, she is.

I used to think this was a terrible thing to do to a woman. Surely the person in the relationship who spends the most time in the house, should get to choose. It seemed like the ultimate in old-fashioned thinking, the cave man dragging his wife by the hair back to his cave.

But as a supportive wife, I really want this to happen to me. The sooner the better.

I want to get up one morning, put on my make-up, backcomb my hair, put on my crisp linen day dress and high heel shoes. I'll sling my handbag over my wrist and head off to Smith & Caughey's to get some much-needed new lingerie and a lipstick and return to find that my husband has bought a new house without me seeing it. Just like that.

I will be delighted. It will be perfect. And the nightmare I am living in will end.

Having sold our house, we now need somewhere to live. Nothing flash, just a roof over our heads.

During the past few weeks I have fallen head over heels with every house we have looked at. I've spent hours online looking at each room, working out where to put the couch, what art to put on which wall and, most importantly, checking there is a cat door. For some reason a cat door in a home speaks volumes to me. That and two bathrooms.

My husband has been less enthusiastic because of his annoying tendency towards realism. And as a supportive wife I've been forced to listen to him.

The gorgeous townhouse near Vector Arena was perfect until my husband pointed out that it was on land leased from Ngati Whatua, who could put the rent up as much as they liked in seven years.

Then there was the apartment with no windows which I loved until my husband pointed out that I spend most of my days staring out windows at trees and the birds I feed every day, detailing their nests and predicting the number of chicks they will have.

I just had to have the "character" warehouse conversion with all its wonderful brick and beams. My husband discovered some earthquake strengthening was needed.

The cute little cottage with the persimmon tree was just delightful until he pointed out that the motorway was two doors down.

The townhouse down the drive wasn't my dream home but was very sunny and liveable.

"Cladding," said my husband. "Run," said our builder.

Part of the house-hunting problem is also my attitude. Apparently one doesn't walk into a home and shout, "I love it, let's buy it!"

Nor should you tell the agent how much you can spend or announce that you are "absolutely desperate for somewhere to live".

My husband has become very stern on these matters, and has asked me to button it.

And so, just a few weeks before moving out of our home, we are homeless. Because unlike the 50s, when supportive wives were waiting for houses to be bought for them, homes aren't as plentiful as they were. There are no nicely built, native timber covered, well-designed, airy homes to just move into down the road. There is officially a housing shortage in Auckland.

"I just want it all to go away," I moaned. "Find me a home!"

In return for my husband finding me a home, I have even offered to continue my year-long supportive wife challenge for another year, with added benefits.

My friends, sensing my despair, and possibly not wanting me to stay in my supportive wife role for too much longer, have gathered around.

"There, there," they say. "Rent and take the weight off your shoulders."

My husband, meanwhile, has pointed out that we have bought a home up north, which I am welcome to live in, any time I want.

In fact, he said, I'm welcome to do just that. But I couldn't possibly leave him unsupported.

- NZ Herald

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