Truth be told, marriage is pretty hard core . . . and so is remodeling. Put the two together and it can be the makings for the perfect storm. I get a lot of private emails and messages from readers and one of the most common questions I get is about how to survive remodeling when it puts such a very real stress on a marriage.
I thought I would put my answers together in one post and hopefully spare you some of the pain of learning these things that hard way, as I have.
Note- this is not a post on how to get your husband to do what you want because if you have been married more than two seconds you know that you can’t control what someone else does, not really.
This picture pretty much sums up how we got into our current house.
Yup, no words needed here.
With my interior design background and his amazing construction skills it was going to be our playground. And it has been, for sure! But, remodeling is a double edged sword. There have been many disagreements on what to prioritize, how much to spend, how fast to go . . .
and then there is the stress of a house torn apart and piles of tools to step over every day.
This path is not for the faint of heart.
We have spent approximately two hours on every square inch of this house and as it becomes more and more beautiful, so does our marriage. The house has become a tangible picture of our marriage. There are still hard days, but I am here to say that you can renovate an entire house and love each other because of it, not in spite of it.
By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.
Here are some tips for avoiding marital strife as you work on your house. . .
Timing is everything with conversations and requests, don’t try to talk when either one of you is exhausted, stressed or hungry.
Choose your battles and know which hill you are going to die on. Does it really matter to you which sheen of paint to use on the baseboards?
Do what you can or hire out if that is an option, don’t exhaust him with the little things. If you can fix something or hang something, just do it. Save him for the things you can’t physically do and have no clue about. Incidentally, don’t ask his advice when you don’t really want it. Ha! Do you know how many times I have asked him about something that I have spent countless hours on and he puts two seconds into it and gets me all frazzled because his idea is now clashing with mine? If you ask him his opinion, he will try to make one and he may not even care about the topic!
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Have a set dollar amount each month that goes towards to the remodel and let that set your pace, it will inevitably feel like a snail’s pace, but I promise you good design takes time. The rooms I have rushed on, I am ready to change in a few years. And the ones that took months and years to finish are total works of art.
Take lots of pictures so you remember how far you have come. You will be amazed!
Factor in each other’s love languages if you can. If you don’t know what those are you can check out The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I need “acts of service” and he needs “quality time”. But, I would rather he build custom cabinets and rewire a room for a chandelier than do the dishes for me. He works on the house to communicate love to me, but he feels loved when I work beside him on the house. See how that works? Knowing our combination has helped us to move forward and strategically care for each other.
Let the expert be the expert. I am 100% aesthetics and he is 100% function, it feels that way anyway. This was how a typical conversation went for years:
Me: “Honey, I know what I want to do, I want to do (fill in the blank)!!!
Him: blank stare, “No, that is a terrible idea. I am not doing that, NOBODY does that.”
Me: my eyes lighting up, “So, you are saying its totally unique and custom? Basically, you are saying I’m a trend setter.”
Him: “No, I am saying there is a reason I have never seen that, because its crazy.”
Now sometimes, he is right, the house would fall down if I did that. Or he would be hitting his head on something every time he walked into the room. But, other times he needs to give the new idea a chance.
This is an area where we have come a long way, he says he has grown to trust my design instincts and just let me work and I have learned that when he blows the whistle it is usually about functionality and I need to listen.
A couple of years ago he said to me, “I don’t know what it is you do to a room, I just know that when you are finished, I love being in that room.”
That meant the world to me.
We are learning to trust each other’s strengths.
Celebrate AAAALLLL the steps forward!! For every curtain rod hung and every paint color decided upon, celebrate! This is a journey, you are writing a story together. Not everyone has this story, remodeling a house together is something to be proud of.
Last week we celebrated 19 years of marriage and our house adventures have been some of our sweetest memories to date.
So, here’s to Remodeling and Marriage and date nights at home improvement stores!!
Black and white photos taken by the lovely and talented Jon+Moch Photography.
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