My wife and I are ready to take the plunge and buy our first house. It became clear right away that we have opposite taste in homes in almost every way. How do we resolve this? We’re getting ready for the birth of our first child, and this is causing stress at what should be a happy and exciting time.

Caroline: Which house to buy easily makes the top-five list of “Most Important and Not Easily Undone Decisions a Married Couple Will Make.” As a result, if you don’t see eye to eye, what should be a unifying process starts to put real strain on the relationship. The best way we can help is to share our own experience. When we were looking for our first house, I had a desire to live in an older home with character in the midtown area where I had been raised.

Tom: I, on the other hand, had grown up in the suburbs and felt more comfortable in the newer neighborhoods. I didn’t (and still don’t) have much in the way of do-it-yourself skills, and the idea of owning an older home with its potential for problems was daunting to me.

For weeks on end, we toured house after house all over town, and invariably one of us would like the house while the other didn’t. We would then go ’round and ’round trying to convince each other why we should like that particular house.

It became apparent to me that this tactic was a mild form of manipulation, designed to fool each other into thinking that we liked something we really didn’t. Something had to end this stalemate. One day, I happened upon a house, and a new thought popped into my head: “This house has everything Caroline would love.” Finally, after so much searching, the idea that the house would make her happy made me happy! I brought her to the house, and just as I had suspected, she fell in love with it immediately. Our offer was made and accepted three days later, and we spent several happy years there until our family outgrew it.

Caroline: This may seem like oversimplified advice, but it is absolutely true: When we place the happiness of our spouse ahead of our own, we end up happier than we would have been otherwise! This is what St. Paul is speaking about in his Letter to the Ephesians when he urges husbands and wives to be “mutually subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Tom: As a husband and father-to-be, ask yourself: Who is going to be spending most of their days in the house? In our case, I knew Caroline would be home most of the day, and our children would be home-schooled. Therefore, in a way, the comforts of home would matter more to them than to me. If they would be happy there, I certainly would be as well.

The McDonalds are family-life directors for the Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama.