Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

Four things that will put stress on a marriage:

  1. Having kids.
  2. Renovating your home.
  3. Having kids inside your home while renovating.
  4. Renovating your home with kids “helping.”

Three and four are the hardest because few things are more stressful than a two-year-old swinging a floor board around with nails sticking out of it.

Home improvement projects are a cheap form of marriage counseling. By the time you finish the project, you will have aired every grievance you can think of and every offense that happened from the day you met through yesterday afternoon.

You’ll start with your current project then move on to past projects. That will ultimately result in arguing over who works harder, who did what today, and who should be doing more. Then, you cruise into who has the weirdest family and end with who is less thoughtful and how many times someone had to take out the trash—a responsibility that wasn’t even theirs until last Saturday.

All the little imperfections you usually ignore about each other become amplified because the contractor didn’t take the time to put the light switch cover on straight and the cabinet installation has gone from being finished on November 20 to being installed on December 15th. It will take them five days. You have family arriving on December 21.

One of you micromanages way too much, and the other one doesn’t do things precisely enough. You are in a hurry and don’t care about accuracy, he is indecisive, and the reason you don’t have flooring picked out yet.

“We can only do this once,” he says, “we can’t cut corners.”

“We need floors for Christmas,” you say.

“We don’t need the floors now we can do them later. We’ll buy rugs.”

“Did Joseph do this to Mary at the ninth hour?” you ask. “Is that why the Inns were all full?”

“I would hardly compare this to that,” he says, “you’re not even pregnant.”

It’s about priorities. When you have no appliances or counter tops, or cabinets, or running water, or electricity, floors aren’t at the top of his list. Never mind that picking sub-flooring splinters out of your behind until Easter is on yours.

And though you know he’s right, you don’t care because you’re fighting and a fight is no time for submission and humility. It’s about winning.

Before you know it, you’re Googling the statistics to see the percentage rate of people who file for divorce citing “home improvement”. Divorce, though, is not an option. You can no longer afford one because together, you settled on the level three granite even though you were partial to the level two option.

So, you walk away.

Sure, faces were made when backs were turned, but whatever.

You find a calm solace pulling out flooring nails in another room, which is oddly soothing and zen-like. He finds it with the new Shop-Vac that has a HEPA filter, which could very well save lives with all the drywall dust that is now covering every square inch of your home like the glistening light sparkles that cover snow on a cold, sunny day.

You come together and reconcile over how well an industrial vacuum cleans your stairs.

“It’s almost brand new again,” you marvel.

“It’s so clean,” he says.

Later, you’ll both sit on the plywood flooring covered in drywall dust, dirt, and drying cuts from floorboard nails your two-year-old hit you with. Together, you sit in silence and share a beer on the splintered sub-floor while staring at an open house devoid of anything but time and space. The cat gallops by like she’s in the Kentucky Derby. She is the only one who appreciates the sudden, extreme open floor concept. She hopes it lasts forever.

You know that one day very soon, you’ll sit in that same spot but with a carpet or floor rug underneath you—you aren’t sure which because your husband is still waffling on what to do in that room—and you’ll stare at a beautiful kitchen.

It’ll be a living space you designed and worked on together in a house that wasn’t always yours. Although, very soon, it will start to feel like it is.

Home renovations are kind of like marriage. It’s not always pretty once you pull back the panels and flooring. Despite who does or doesn’t do what, no matter how many times you argue, at the end of the day your marriage is that room you’re working on. You don’t want what was there at the beginning; it didn’t work for either of you when you started occupying and using that space together. You want it better and more custom to fit your life together. You want it to be something you can both be proud of working on and be content and comfortable living in.

So, you’ll keep plugging forward on the project and each other.

You’ll finish stronger than when you started.

You’ll round this hill out with a high-five and an accomplished sense of team work.

And you’ll keep the floorboard studded with nails far away from your two-year-old.

Originally published on the author’s blog 

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Christina Antus

Christina is a part-time writer and a full-time mom living with her husband and cute kids. When she’s not writing, she’s running, reading, folding forever-piles of laundry and probably burning dinner. You can find her musing about her frivolous life at: It's fine, I ran today.
 

She is an Anonymom

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother standing at sink holding a baby on her hip

She stands alone in the church kitchen, frantically scrubbing pots and pans while the grieving huddle around the fellowship hall, and she slips out the back door before anyone comes in. She is an anonymom. She gets out of her car and picks up the trash thrown into the ditch alongside the country road. She is an anonymom. She sits on the park bench, watching her children play. In the meantime, she continually scans the whole playground, keeping track of everyone’s littles, because that is what moms do. She is an anonymom. RELATED: Can We Restore “the Village” Our Parents...

Keep Reading

Your Husband Needs Friendship Too

In: Faith, Friendship, Marriage
3 men smiling outside

As the clock inches closer to 7:00 on a Monday evening, I pull out whatever dessert I had prepared that week and set it out on the kitchen counter. This particular week it’s a trifle, but other weeks it may be brownies, pound cake, or cookies of some kind. My eyes do one last sweep to make sure there isn’t a tripping hazard disguised as a dog toy on the floor and that the leftover dinner is put away. Then, my kids and I make ourselves scarce. Sometimes that involves library runs or gym visits, but it mostly looks like...

Keep Reading

Memories are What Matter—Watch the Chevy Holiday Ad Making Us Cry

In: Living
Chevy holiday ad

I don’t know about you, but the older I get the more I find that this time of year feels fragile. I love the holidays, don’t get me wrong. But these days I recognize a comingling of joy and sadness that envelopes so many during this season. It’s a giant heap of emotion as we sort through the good, the bad, the happy, and the sad of the past year and try to make sense of where we are right here, right now, in this moment of time. So when I saw Chevrolet’s new seasonal ad last night, I was...

Keep Reading

This Is Why Moms Ask for Experience Gifts

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Mother and young daughter under Christmas lights wearing red sweaters

When a mama asks for experience gifts for her kids for Christmas, please don’t take it as she’s ungrateful or a Scrooge. She appreciates the love her children get, she really does. But she’s tired. She’s tired of the endless number of toys that sit in the bottom of a toy bin and never see the light of day. She’s tired of tripping over the hundreds of LEGOs and reminding her son to pick them up so the baby doesn’t find them and choke. She’s tired of having four Elsa dolls (we have baby Elsa, Barbie Elsa, a mini Elsa,...

Keep Reading

6 Things You Can Do Now to Help Kids Remember Their Grandparents

In: Grief, Living, Loss, Motherhood
Grandfather dances with granddaughter in kitchen

A month ago, my mom unexpectedly passed away. She was a vibrant 62-year-old grandma to my 4-year-old son who regularly exercised and ate healthy. Sure, she had some health scares—breast cancer and two previous brain aneurysms that had been operated on successfully—but we never expected her to never come home after her second surgery on a brain aneurysm. It has been devastating, to say the least, and as I comb through pictures and videos, I have gathered some tips for other parents of young kids to do right now in case the unexpected happens, and you’re left scrambling to never...

Keep Reading

When You Need a Friend, Be a Friend

In: Friendship, Living
Two friends having coffee

We have all seen them—the posts about the door always open, the coffee always on, telling us someone is always there when we need support. I have lived with depression my entire life. From being a nervous child with a couple of ticks to a middle-aged woman with recurrent major depressive and generalized Anxiety disorder diagnoses. Antidepressants, therapy, writing, and friends are my treatments. The first three are easy, my doctor prescribes antidepressants, I make appointments with a therapist, and I write when I feel the need. RELATED: Happy People Can Be Depressed, Too The fourth is hard. As I...

Keep Reading

When You Just Don’t Feel Like Christmas

In: Faith, Living
Woman sad looking out a winter window

It’s hard to admit, but some years I have to force myself to decorate for Christmas. Some years the lights look a little dimmer. The garlands feel a bit heavier. And the circumstances of life just aren’t wrapped in a big red bow like I so wish they were. Then comparison creeps in like a fake Facebook friend and I just feel like hiding under the covers and skipping it all. Because I know there’s no way to measure up to the perfect life “out there.” And it all just feels heavier than it used to. Though I feel alone,...

Keep Reading

To the Parents Who Coach: Thank You

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother with young son in soccer uniform, color photo

I always planned on being an involved parent, whatever that would mean. Never an athlete, always athletic, I joined the swim team in high school, taught swim lessons for spending money as a college freshman, played intramural soccer at 10 p.m. on weeknights on a college team with a ridiculous name. Later, mama to only one baby, finding extra dollars wherever I could, I coached track. And then, my own babies really started to play sports. I promised myself I would volunteer as possible, but something always stood in the way, and all I could manage was to get my...

Keep Reading

Now That I’m There, 30 Doesn’t Seem That Old

In: Living
Woman holding a sign with the number 30 and chocolates, color photo

I turned 30 this year. The change of a decade has caused me to reflect a lot. This is the first time I’ve hit an age ending in zero and sort of wish I could go back a ways. At 10 and 20 years old I was still eagerly waiting to get older. That desire slowed down and stopped around 25 years old. Still, I haven’t lived my first 30 years with a lot of regrets. I have four little ones who call me mom. Some days they make me feel old. Often they keep me acting young. Dance parties...

Keep Reading

Teachers Carry the Weight of Their Classroom in Their Hearts

In: Living
Stressed teacher sits with hands on temples

I would like to argue there really isn’t anything that hard about the doing of a teacher’s job. Oh, there are overwhelming, too much to do moments. And exhausting moments. And early morning, long day moments. But there isn’t really anything that hard about the doing of a teacher’s work. It’s the being a teacher that’s hard. For in being a teacher, your heart splits open with all the things you cannot fix and all the things you cannot do or cannot do enough of. When your heart aches for a family you barely know and you long to comfort...

Keep Reading