With This Hammer, I Thee Wed: On Marriage and Home Renovations

DIY home renovation marriage fight
Courtesy Redbook

Did you and your spouse do your renovation without fighting?

Trick question. No married couple has ever completed a home renovation without fighting.

The only couple I’ve ever heard of getting through a renovation without one spat is the one profiled in the first couple of paragraphs here:

The thing about the renovation is that it went, more or less, perfectly.

“We agreed on a house, a contractor, everything inside the apartment,” said S. “It was an enormous project—we broke walls, we built walls—it took about a year.”

And then:

Then, when the last painting had been hung and the renovation had undeniably come to an end, they agreed to get a divorce.

“Once the project was done, the reality set in,” said S. “We were living a dream through this little exercise, but it wasn’t enough to rebuild all that was lost in the marriage—a real connection and a real understanding of each other.”

Dark, right? Bracing, even.

Of course, I wouldn’t say Z and I have ever had a renovation that went perfectly, nor would I describe our home improvement situation as “living a dream”.

We are currently planning some work. Already, just in the planning phases, we’ve had a couple of tough conversations – and suddenly I’m remembering the last time we did some renovation work.

Or, as I like to remember it: the Dark February.

I think Z is too.

Today I sent him this article: Wisdom to Help Your Relationship Survive a Remodel, parts of which really made me laugh. Like this quote: “I love my husband, but he honestly has no taste. But I am saying that in a loving and caring way.”

When I asked Z what he’d thought of the article, he gave me a wry look: “Did you notice that quote about the terrible wife painter?”

In the Dark February, late one night, after a week of working double shifts – one shift at my actual work, and then another shift doing renovation work – Z gave me some not-so-gently worded constructive feedback about my painting style.

Cue: The Great Feathered Edges Paint Debate.

Z’s point: I’m not a detail-oriented painter (fair). My point: Don’t go to the hardware store for milk (worded much more emotionally). Prior to that night, I didn’t even know “feathering” was a thing.

Now we can laugh about it, but for a while it was, um, raw.

For those of you in the midst of a renovation: hold on, you can get through this. You’re not alone. This article, from Redbook, made me laugh. 8 Simple Steps to tile your bathroom floor, where step 7 reads:

Step 7: Regret that you alienated the person who could’ve helped you. I handled this step on my own around 2 a.m.

Sounds about right.

Of course, after the Dark February, which I got through with a fair amount of red wine and pizza, March was much easier. And at some point, we decided we could – nay, we SHOULD – do it again.

Fools in love!


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