4 Ways to Survive Home Projects with Your Partner

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“Don’t use up your marriage equity on renovating the office,” cautioned our life coach. 

Maybe it’s a huge remodel project. Maybe it’s just choosing how to arrange and decorate your living space. However, you and your partner may have different ideas about what to do or how to do it.

Between quarantine and stimulus checks, 2020 was the year for many of us to finally get started on some projects. However, the stress of confinement also took a toll on many relationships. 

Even after 12 years of marriage and so.many.projects, there can still be a surprising amount of friction in my house. My husband has been remodeling for years and is more invested than some guys in decisions involving style. And yet, I’m pretty sure I know what I want (can I get an amen, ladies?)

Here’s four things I’ve learned that may help you navigate your home improvement projects together.

Compromise on Little Things

Our new house didn’t have a toilet paper holder. I bought one. Simple solution. Item check off the list!

But no. 

“We haven’t even discussed what we want the half-bath to look like!” he said. “We have to know what metals we are using on the first floor.” (We weren’t even remodeling the whole first floor!) 

It was a big stupid argument. I honestly didn’t care what the toilet paper holder looked like, but I fought for my right to choose it. 

Here’s what I learned: If one of you actually doesn’t have a strong opinion and the other does, then maybe compromise. It’s just a toilet paper holder, after all. 

Give it Some Time

We had to remove our large deck for foundation work. Two years and four months later, I threw a hissy fit whenever anyone mentioned the following keywords: “deck, wood, project, progress, yard, mud.”  

We had a 2-foot-drop from our living room sliding doors down to a broken concrete pad with pooled water and out to our backyard. For over two years.  

JUST BUILD ME A DECK.

After a spring of hard work, I had a gorgeous deck and new furniture to enjoy all summer. 

I’m an Enneagram 2w3, and I very much want to get some results (and have people over.) 

However, my husband was going to do 95% of the work, and as an Enneagram 1, he was going to do it well. Very well. 

While I was focused on NOT HAVING A DECK, my husband was working hard on prep work, solving drainage issues, rebuilding a fence etc. Stuff takes time and it’s not worth fighting over. 

Here’s what I learned: Pushing doesn’t help. Sometimes, we need to take a chill pill and give it some time. 

Some Things Are Solo Projects

My husband wanted to remodel my office. He was seeing a custom desk, built-in shelving and more. I was seeing months of having to work in the dining room.

Here’s the deal. I know my aesthetic and what’s “on brand.” We also have wildly different styles. It was a relief to both of us to not have to “work it out” and do the office together.  In exchange, he will probably make all the decisions on the basement remodel. 

Here’s what I learned: It’s OK to not work together. It’s OK to decide who is in charge of a project and let them do their thing! 

Just Have Fun With It

I knew exactly what kind of look I wanted for the dining room; a Modern meets Old World vibe.

We went to multiple stores together looking for modern abstract artwork, but without pressure to make a decision. We finally found a piece we both really liked and knew we’d enjoy for years. 

We haven’t finished or painted that room yet, but we’ve had fun adding a DIY wine shelf and IKEA chairs. At some point, we’ll probably wander through a home goods store on a date night and pick a rug. 

Here’s what I learned: Don’t let it get too serious. Have fun together on a project, especially for areas of the home that you’ll be enjoying as a family.

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