Real Married: Needing A Home

Readers, it’s time again for another dose of the lovely Real Married, Esme.  Esme has a new blog, called Esme Wins (read why Esme wins here) and it’s a corker of a read, as is all her excellent writing.  I command you to get over to it, now, and bookmark as though your life depends on it. 

This month, Esme talks a bit more about the concept of home, and why we feel we need one.  Would we want one, pine for one, if we’d never had a fixed abode  growing up?  Is home an address, or something more?  Esme wants to start that conversation, and here’s the place to have it.  Over to you, Esme: 

Last month I talked about how Tom and I lost the opportunity to buy our first home. After I’d written it, I realised that I felt as though we really had lost our home – we couldn’t buy our dream and we had fallen out of love with our rental home, which up until then had seemed so perfect. So I thought I should talk a bit more about the idea of home.


When someone asks me ‘where are you from?’, it’s a bit difficult to answer. This is a typical conversation:

Stranger: Are you from here?

Me: No. My husband and I moved here from Cambridge for his job.

S: So you’re from Cambridge?

M: No. I grew up near Cambridge.

S: Oh ok. I love Cambridge! Were you born there?

M: No, I was born in (proper Northern town).

S: Oh I’ve been there! You must have loved it.

M: Well I moved when I was three…

S: Oh, to Cambridge?

M: Not exactly…


You get the picture. Throw into the mix the fact that when I left home to go to university my Mum and siblings moved across the country from where I’d been at school and you can see that there why I don’t have an answer, and people who ask about my origins start to regret it pretty quickly.


But I NEVER felt that I didn’t have a home growing up. My parents divorced when I was a teenager, but it was definitely for the best and I celebrated the idea that I had two homes to choose from. My family is pretty close and we bought into the ‘wherever we lay our (metaphorical) hat, that’s our home’ philosophy. My aunt (and un-godly Mother and general fantastically inspirational woman) commented a few years ago that her house had been the only constant house throughout my life and I realised how lucky I was to have experienced many different homes over my lifetime. I had had lots of homes, all of them filled with love and life and family.


And then I became a wife. One of the reasons we decided to get married was because we wanted to make a new family (and no, that is not a pregnancy announcement – two people can be a family, can’t they?) and take the elements from both of our upbringing to create something new. Tom has pretty much lived in the same house all of his life and had so many memories and photographs of the same place, the same garden, the same village and I suppose that I kind of fell for that ideal. Never mind the fact that it had never bothered me before, I wanted a family home for our new family.


You know what happened next, so I won’t repeat myself. What you don’t know is what my (sometimes) very wise husband asked me a couple of days after my last post went up – ‘why do you think that you feel you need a home?’. Such a good question and one to which I don’t know the answer. All I can say is that I feel like it’s part of my duty as a wife to make a home, whilst I also know that it’s completely ridiculous because I already have all the home I need in my marriage.


So now I am curious – what does home mean to you lovely AOW readers? Am I alone in feeling that I have a duty as a wife to make a home for my family? I’d love to get the discussion going on this topic.

Categories: Real Married
24 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Fee
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    I know exactly what you mean! We moved a lot when I was growing up meaning I also went to various different schools before secondary school. The one house we lived in for the longest (about 10 years) is the one I automatically think of as the house I grew up in which can be odd as two of my brothers don’t remember ever living there (they’re much younger).

    I didn’t take it quite as well as you and now have a pathological dislike of moving and being unsettled, I need that constant concept of ‘home’, even if travelling/working a lot and hardly spending any time there.

    My husband lived in one house the whole time he was growing up and went to one primary and one secondary school in the same area – his best man was his closest friend who he met on the first day of nursery when he was 3! This is what I want for our family, a feeling of familiarity that they can come back to even when they are grown up.

  2. Vivienne
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    My mum and dad are still on the farm that I grew up in, and despite being a grown up, with a husband and a baby on the way, I still find myself feeling a little homesick when i’ve been to visit and have to leave again.

    That said, I haven’t been out since we bought our new house, which has felt ‘right’ since the day we saw it. As many women do, I moved in to my husbands flat (where he had lived for 15 years) so it never ever really felt like my home – as much as he tried to make it so. Interestingly, despite him being in his flat for so long, our new house feels like home to him – possibly because it’s been his dream for so long, and possibly also because this is where we are going to become a family of 3.

    Bashing out that old cliche – home is where the heart is – and that maybe explains why I feel at peace in my new house, and at my folks – both places are filled with love


    • Posted July 24, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      I am so in this boat – home is definately where my heart is!

  3. Posted July 24, 2012 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I gave up my career when pursuing it meant moving city every six months – I just need to be in the same place, with my things, and my people. It’s one of THE most important things to me. That said, I’m not bothered about having the “perfect” home – just that I have a home that’s mine. I live in a rough area, car insurance premiums are among the highest in the country, I don’t have a garden, schools around here aren’t great. I entertained aspirations of living somewhere a bit more practical for settling down, but the recession has made me reassess my priorities. It’s enough to be here, I think. It’s more than a lot of people will ever have, and it’s good enough for me.

    I think for me (and maybe for you too after your disappointment, Esme?) we only become unsatisfied with what we have when more tantalising options are dangled in front of us. And it will come for you, it’s the being patient for it that drags. Good luck!


    • Posted July 24, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      As so often happens, Penny articulated my own thoughts better than I did… “I just need to be in the same place, with my things, and my people”, sums up how I feel about this more eloquently than I could ever manage. I also gave up on the idea of a career that required me to move every 6 months, it would have made me vastly unhappy.

      K x

  4. Posted July 24, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    I tend to associate ‘home’ with people. For instance, when the Mr is living with me, that is home. When I visit my parents – that is home. Right now, I live between the two: the Mr 250miles North, and parents, friends and family 250miles South. I don’t feel at ‘home’ now at all, and feel like i’m just existing in my little flat on my own, waiting until the weekend to go home (North, or South). I am moving flat next week (just up the road) and I am going to try and put my stamp on things as much as I can, just to feel a little more at home and less lost living on my own!

    L x

  5. Lorna
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I will be home-less this time tomorrow- husband is off to LA and I’m couch surfing til I join him in a fortnight. We’ve spent ages talking about how to create ‘home’ in a new, very alien, place. A challenge because most of my thoughts of home involve being cosied in against the elements.

    In the end, we decided some of our stuff was the key to creating home for us. We could afford to ship 6 boxes and a chest of drawers, and painstakingly picked what could go in them. (Brutal. Expect a ‘books I took to LA, rather than ‘books that made me, me’ post eventually…) Hopefully this’ll make our new house feel like the home we have loved here.

    • Posted July 24, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Wow, that sounds really hard, Lorna. I couldn’t even begin to think what I would put in those boxes!

  6. pickle
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    AOW is amazing, yet another post I can massively relate to.

    We are currently quite literally homeless (staying with family) and over the years I have had 20 different addresses, moving almost always not out of choice but with family as a kid (9 houses) or due to landlords selling up/moving back in etc. Due to difficult relationships with my parents their houses don’t feel like my home; one of my grandparents’ houses, a place I’ve visited all my life, feels like the closest thing I’ve got to a family home but unfortunately is on the market and due to be sold soon.

    The desire for a home has crept up on me and took me a while to fully recognise but I’m recently married, currently ‘between houses’ as we both look for jobs abroad and am desperately craving a home – I want to nest! One one level my home is absolutely wherever my husband is (that was even part of our vows) but on another level I increasingly do want to put down roots and make a place ‘ours’. Now we just have to decide where we might want to do that. Oh – and how to afford it!

    • Posted July 24, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      Kind of glad and sorry that you’re in the same situation, pickle. I want to nest, too!

  7. Zan
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Esme, I have a very similar ‘where are you from’ conversation every time I’m asked that! I’ve never really felt like I’m ‘from’ anywhere in particular, having been born in one place, grew up in another, then moved to another then years of moving home every year (literally) through university and jobs. I always joke to people that if I don’t move once a year I get itchy feet!

    But ‘home’ is generally my parents home. Or my grandparents home. I live with my partner now and it’s just about starting to feel like home, which has take some doing as it’s his house I’ve moved into. But I very much believe that home is a state of mind rather than a physical house. I tend to become attached to places rather than houses, maybe from moving house so much?

  8. Frances
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    I have very similar ‘where are you from’ conversations too – born in one place, moved to another place 300 miles away and then moved house again two years later (only down the road this time). My parents are divorced, but both places always felt like home to me until my dad sold his house a couple of years ago and moved abroad – most definitely not my home.

    I think I cherish the idea of home because I value stability and security – I’ve moved house every year since I went to university, including three stints of living abroad, albeit relatively briefly. Although I really moved in with my fiance two years ago (his house), I have only felt like it is really my home too since March when I moved home from working in Paris and have been living and commuting from there. I think that means that for me, home is where I am settled rather than just where my heart is.

    The interesting question is why, wherever you live, some places feel like home and some don’t, no matter who you’re living with. Although our current house feels like our ‘couple family’ home, it certainly doesn’t feel like our ‘future family’ home.

    • Posted July 24, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      That’s interesting, Frances. How come it’s just a ‘couple’ home? Maybe because that’s what you are now?

      • Frances
        Posted July 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

        I think it’s because it’s not a particularly family friendly house in my mind (I can’t quite explain how, it just isn’t cosy enough) – neither I nor my fiance want to be there permanently and we’d like to be able to choose our future home as a decision we make together.

        Funnily enough, though, the moment I thought ‘this is our home’ for the first time was the point at which we had a purchase offer on it (no mean feat, it had been on the market for 8 months) – we ended up turning the offer down for different reasons and taking the house off the market, but since then it has felt much more like our home, at least for now.

  9. Posted July 24, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I moved in with my now husband into his flat but the decor was very much ‘male student flat’ so we did quite a bit of decorating and it feels very much like our home. However my family home is always near the seaside. I grew up on the coast and regardless of where we are, if we’re by the sea it feels a bit like home to me.

  10. Posted July 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    We’re totally the opposite – it’s me that’s always lived in the same house whereas my husband has moved around loads – more times than I can ever image. For me the buildings themselves are really important and I get too attached to places I live, but he’s always said he’s happy to move a lot (something that I dread). Funnily enough, the same thing has happened to him since getting married – he now wants a place that is ‘ours’. Partly I think that desire has come from living away from all our friends and family and not being able to buy anywhere just yet. It’s the good old ‘grass is greener’ syndrome.

    My parents are talking about moving in the relatively near future and if I’m totally honest when the time comes it will feel like a little bit of a bereavement to me. See I told you I get far too attached…


    • Posted July 24, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      That makes me feel a bit saner, Hollie. It’s not just me that craves that one ‘home’ – it’s men, too!

  11. Posted July 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Two people can most definitely be a family Esme.

    I live 2 minutes walk from the street where I was born. My parents have moved three times during my life but always in the same street (!). I think this makes me the ultimate home bird from a family of home birds?! I haven’t always lived here of course, there were a couple of years in France and then university in the North East, but this village has always been home and the pull to this place is strong. I guess like Fee, we are drawn to put an anchor somewhere.

    Having said this, I’m addicted to Rightmove (thanks Clare for introducing me to the App) and whilst I daydream about buying somewhere in a different place, I can’t find anything in our budget that makes me feel as happy as looking around at what we already have, despite its flaws. It doesn’t stop me looking of course…have anchor, will travel. Just maybe not quite yet…

  12. Posted July 24, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    My parents still live in the house we moved into when I was 6 years old, and I currently live around 15-20 min drive away (13 min minimum if you make the fifty bajillion lights right). I think of that house as my home, but I also think of the flat that Gareth and I chose and rented and live in together as my home. As a result, I’m regularly to be heard uttering variations on the following confusing sentence… “I’m just popping home for a cuppa, and then I’ll be home after that for dinner”, or “Do you want to go home before we go home?”

    I don’t like changing homes much, though. We’re looking to buy a house soon, and much as I want a house with more space, and a garden, on a street where I don’t get woken up at 7 am by children screaming “you f***ing c***” at other children/their parents, I don’t want to leave this home we have created. I know I can build a new home, but… I like MY home. I suspect I’ll be a heaving emotional wreck if/when my parents decide to move house.

    Final point, I have to say I’ve never considered that it’s my duty as a wife to build us a home, I’m not sure why not but I’ve never thought of it in that way. Interesting thought.

    K x

    • Posted July 24, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

      I love your ‘do you want to go home before we go home’ thing, Katie. Not at all confusing!

  13. Katie
    Posted July 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    To me, home is my parents farm, even after being married for a year.

    I live with my husband, in a beautiful spacious country cottage owned by his parents. Even now that we’re having a baby, in my mind its still his parents retirement property. The property was completely renovated seven years ago, for Andy to live in and his parents to retire to. It was Andy’s mum who made the decisions on kitchen, bathroom, logburner, patio doors etc. and it was their money (and Andy’s savings) that paid for it. I’d not been with Andy for so long at the time, and we were not living together.

    At some point Andy and I will swap with his parents, and hopefully I’ll consider the farmhouse home.

    I’ve never felt that I have any duty to provide a home for Andy or our children. However, Andy and his parents, have provided me with a home, from quite early on in our relationship. I was 22 at the time, and recently finished university. I appreciate and love our beautiful renovated cottage, but it still doesn’t feel like home to me. Perhaps it’s linked to ownership. I’m not sure.


  14. Posted July 31, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    I giggled reading the conversation in this post as it’s the one I have when people ask me the same question! I moved from Scotland to Plymouth when I was 14, leaving family and friends behind. I managed to last for GCSEs and A’Levels before moving to Norwich for uni (having only visited once before, at 5 years old) – basically because it was far away from Plymouth and I got rejected from Edinburgh. No offence to Plymouth, of course – some parts are beautiful – it just felt so far away from Scotland and all I’d known, and I was conscious of being a) the new girl at school and b) the Scot. After 15 years of living in England, I still consider myself Scottish. In Scotland though, I sound English and vice versa, so it’s difficult to feel like I fit in.
    I’ve now lived in Norwich for ten years, moving around a bit with rental houses. My boyfriend has also only lived in one house his whole life, about 40 minutes’ drive away. You definitely make a house a home just by living in it, but I’m ready to buy our own house and paint walls! The trouble is, there’s no way we can afford the deposit to buy our first home, and at this point we wouldn’t be able to afford the mortgage payments and the maintenance too, nevermind pretty cushion covers and blackboard paint.

    It might take a few years but we’ll do it – in the meantime, I’ll be content with pretty throws and a blackboard cupboard!

One Trackback

  • By Number 85 on August 3, 2012 at 9:29 am

    [...] it perfectly here. talking about her first year in her new home.  We’ve talked about home a lot recently on the blog.  Here, home represents family, experiences, history, nature, a place [...]

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