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Couples Chronicles — Interview 3
Yours, Mine, Ours
by Demian
First published in April 1987
© January 7, 2018, Demian

Jan Sudak works as a perfusionist, running the heart/lung machine during open heart surgery. Cindy Moors is an investor in stocks, bonds, dividends and real estate. Cindy and Jan celebrated their second anniversary this February [1987]. After dating for a year, they rented an apartment together. Now they have moved into their own home in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. [Jan and Cindy have since uncoupled.]

How did you go about buying your house?

Cindy: The easy part was finding a home we wanted. It’s a townhouse in a small development in the heart of Ft. Lauderdale.

We were fortunate to have free expert advice from my father, a real estate agent. My parents saw the property and agreed it would be ideal for us. They said if we struck a deal with the owner, they would purchase the property outright and hold a mortgage in both our names.

Since, technically, no real estate agent was involved, we had an attorney handle the legal aspects of the sale between the owner and my parents, as well as the mortgage between my parents and the two of us.

Why buy a house together?

Jan: After we lived together a year, we decided we were compatible and wanted to invest in a home. We wanted to spend life together … build some equity together.

What problems came up once you decided to buy a home?

Cindy: After deciding to get the house, I had drawn up a will. I assumed that if anything happened to either of us, the house would go to the surviving partner. However, Jan didn’t feel the same way. If anything happened to her, she wanted whatever principle she put into the house to go to her family.

I thought that we’d have problems, but the way we’ve worked it out is very fair. Our mortgage covenant states that in the event of the death of either mortgagee, the survivor is “granted a tenancy for life.” Also, when and if the property is sold, “the proceeds from the sale of the property shall be passed to the heirs and assigns of both parties in amounts in proportion to the equity owned by each of the parties.”

In the event the property is sold, for any reason, the balance of the mortgage is paid from the proceeds of the sale. The remaining sum is divided between us equally. We both have contributed equally to the down payment and will contribute equally to the monthly mortgage payments.

If Jan dies and I’m still alive, I can live here as long as I want to. If I decide to sell it, half of whatever I make — half of whatever she has already put into the house — goes to her family.

Are you satisfied with this arrangement?

Cindy: It was difficult at first because I wasn’t sure why this was necessary. Eventually, it made sense to me.

Jan doesn’t come from a wealthy family, and I do. Even though she makes a good amount of money now, when and if something happens to her, she wants her family taken care of. Also, I’m an only child and Jan has a twin and older sister as well.

The only other problem was deciding where the furniture would go.

How have you set up your household and its expenses?

Cindy: Our home has two master bedrooms. We each have our own bedroom. We’ve both always been that way. We’re very individual.

We have one place we know we’re going to sleep, but it’s not like we have combined clothes. Our lives aren’t intertwined that way.

We do have a joint checking account, but only because we need it for our household things. We have yours, mine and ours.

Then you also have individual checking accounts?

Cindy: Oh, yes we do. In the joint account we both deposit equal amounts every month. Financially, we are very compatible. It’s not like one makes a lot more than the other. That works out real well.

Are there any conflicts of opinion in setting up the house?

Jan: Basically, we have about the same taste. We picked out the wallpaper for the bathrooms and the kitchen, and had the place painted. We’re traditional and conservative. As far as household duties go…

Cindy: Jan does them all.

Jan: My hours at work are very flexible. If there’s surgery I work; if not, I don’t. It allows me a lot of free time. Cindy doesn’t like shopping at a grocery store, so I do it, just because I don’t mind it.

Cindy: When we first moved in together, I was very worried because Jan is a perfectionist. She’s very clean and everything has its place. I am just the opposite, and I thought, “we are definitely going to have problems!”

But, somehow, she’s very patient with me. If I’m a slob, that’s fine, as long as I do it in my own room.

In the beginning, I felt guilty because of her tendency to do a lot more of the chores than I do. Her answer to me was, “Rather than sit around all day, I might as well do the chores, including your half, so when you come home we can spend time together.”

There are weeks when she’s working sixteen, twenty hours a day. Those are the times when I kick in and get things done.

I try to let her know as often as I can that I really appreciate the chores she does. Verbalizing that helps a lot. It’s like saying, “I love you.” You’ve got to say it. Don’t just assume it.

Have you had relationships before?

Jan: We both did. At the time, I thought I was in love. Though, I didn’t think of it as a long-term relationship the way I think about it now, mainly because I feel very secure in my job and financially.

Cindy: I’ve been in other relationships that have been as long as this one, but I’ve never been as confident. There were always different problems, be it sex, drugs, rock ’n roll, whatever.

Jan and I see eye to eye on everything. We were both brought up very much the same. One W.A.S.P., one Catholic. Besides that, we’re basically the same.

Are you out to your parents?

Jan: Only my mother is alive and she does not know that I am gay. She thinks I’m investing in a piece of property with another woman, and that’s about it.

Cindy: I’ve been out to them since I was seventeen. They didn’t approve of it too much until Jan walked in. Then something snapped. They absolutely love her. It’s working out real well.

Jan, how would you describe your relationship to Cindy’s parents?

Jan: They treat me as if I was their own daughter…

Cindy: …or better…

Jan: …as a very close family friend. So far as this house goes, they are very supportive. They’ve given us a whole lot of good advice and encouragement.

Aside from Cindy’s parents, was there support for buying your home together?

Jan: We only got 50 percent encouragement from our friends, most of whom are gay. Those who didn’t support us stated bluntly that all the couples they knew who had bought a home together split up because of it. At times, they make comments like, “Oh, it’s great to be single,” or, “I wouldn’t want to be a couple again.”

I think that kind of discouragement is rotten. It really hurts me.

Maybe it’s jealousy. They sound bitter, sour or hurt. It’s really discouraging to get very little support from people within our own community.

Did the negativity come from a specific gender?

Jan: Most of the negative comments were from women. Traditionally, women are not the type to swap partners — men have that reputation — so we were really surprised.

Who has given support?

Jan: Cindy’s parents are the big driving support behind us. One of my sisters knows about our relationship and gives me a lot of support. Also my mother, even though she doesn’t know the situation.

At what point did you decide yours was to be a long-term relationship?

Jan: It’s hard to describe how you get to the point where something clicks and you just know.

Cindy’s the type of person I can be in love with, I can be in like with, I can work with as a best friend, as a business partner, or as a lover.

We allow each other total freedom. We trust each other totally. That’s when I can make a long-term commitment.

Cindy: We are the best of friends and that’s the most important quality. That’s why we get along so well.

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