Remodeling with your partner sounds so quaint and so fun, like a lighthearted relationship-building exercise.
Except that it’s not at all. It’s like a confusing journey through all nine circles of hell. The only difference? It ends with some new granite counter tops and a neat-o lazy Susan cabinet insert. Worth it.
If you manage to survive the renovation experience with your darling, however, you will undoubtedly emerge with the following relationship wisdom. ‘Tis worth its weight in travertine backsplash tiles.
1. Pick your battles wisely
The shade of laminate matters not, as long as you get to select the new cabinetry.
2. Treat problems as an adventure, not an intrusion
Problems will undoubtedly arise during the remodel. Remember that these problems can constitute a complete emergency or just another bend in the road. It all comes down to attitude.
3. The only taste he has is in picking you
Do not expect your partner to have reasonable taste. You should know better by now.
4. Flexibility is happiness
The happiest of trees are those that can bend in the wind, rather than snap.
5. People handle stress differently
Just because you feel like screaming and he feels like escaping, it doesn’t mean you’re not both stressing out. Be kind.
6. A date night can fix a million problems
Water line burst? Fireplace exploded through the rooftop? Walls held together by only a very aggressive species of mold? Fix that ish with a date night, and you’ll feel better.
7. Asking questions can be perilous
Dear friend, do not interrupt his train of thought with an unnecessary question.
8. A renovation is a magnifying glass for pre-existing issues
Remember that you’re not actually arguing about the renovation. You’re arguing about communication, or budgeting or stress management. These are pre-existing issues in your relationship. As they arise, recall that the renovation is helping you see your weaknesses so you can address them.
9. “Budget” means different things to different people
Do you think of your budget as gospel, or more of a guideline? Always make sure you know exactly what you mean by the word “budget.”
10. Hash it out ahead of time
Arguing must occur with a reasonable expectation of privacy, and not in front of the contractor, the children or the staff of the local hardware store.
11. Opposites attract
Remember that you fell in love with your partner for precisely the reasons he makes you want to jump out of a window sometimes.
12. A rock-solid plan is the most important ingredient…
Think things through ahead of time, always.
13. … And so is mutual buy-in
But as you’re thinking things through, make sure you’re both on the same page. One person’s well-contrived plan does not turn into success without mutuality.
14. Divorce is more expensive than outsourcing
Sure, you could DIY everything. The money you save on contractor fees will help you afford that divorce you’ll certainly want at the end of all those projects.
15. Know when to leave the house
Ignoring problems isn’t a good thing, but it’s perfectly acceptable to walk away from them for short periods of time if you just can’t bear to deal with them.
16. Compromise is king
There’s an old adage that rings true: “You can be right, or you can be happy.” Know when compromise is the highest good.
17. It’s a journey, not a destination
The destination of a house remodel is a nice goal. The journey you take to attain your goals with your partner, however, is what makes your house a home.