We usually agree on decorating and have the ability to discuss time frames and budgets for fix-it jobs around the house. Bob is a wonderful handyman and can do just about everything there is to do in home repair. Some jobs he likes better than others. Three years ago at Christmas time we had an ice dam on the roof and as a result we needed drywall work and painting done to various places inside our house. These are two of the jobs Bob least likes to do. Since we were making an insurance claim we decided to have those two jobs done professionally. It took until the summer to get all the things in place to get the repairs done. While they were doing drywall work we had the workers do some other areas of our house including our master bathroom and had them paint most of the rest of the house which still had builder grade paint on it. As the bill mounted, which that usually fritzes Bob out, he decided he would paint our bathroom. In the discussion about that, we decided we would consider some upgrades to the rest of the bathroom. We couldn’t decide what we wanted the budget to be so we settled on just painting and waiting on the other things. I wanted the painters to do it but Bob promised that it would be painted by Christmas. That fall things got quite busy as he was working on other things. Christmas came and went with the bathroom having all the decorations removed and various spots of white primer over the existing paint.
I was still working at Christmas, but retired the following summer so we once again began the discussion of what we wanted to do with the bathroom. We even went to the local big box home improvement store and found vanity cabinets that we liked and had the shower enclosure replaced. Bob once again promised that the project would be done by Christmas. I began to laugh with him about the promise and somewhere we began to joke about the fact that he didn’t say which Christmas. And of course another year passed. I actually began to get used to the splotched walls as we continued our discussion of the project.
Last fall one day Bob told me he’d decided that he was going to tackle the bathroom. He brought up ladders and paint supplies and was working once again on some drywall issues. (We apparently have drywall issues because of the cathedral ceiling in our house.) After a few days he said I really don’t want to do this, how about if we wait until next spring and we will do the rehab of the entire bathroom. He asked me what my dream bathroom would be if no costs were considered. I said I would gut it and start over. Realistically, I knew we were not going to do that but from there we once again began to plan what we wanted to do and what we should do considering the declining property values in our neighborhood.
Winter passed and as spring came once again we set out to the big box store and found that the cabinets we wanted were on sale—a good start. We ordered the cabinets and they arrived just before our trip to Italy. While we were on the trip Bob told me he would begin the project in earnest when we got home, and he did. The demolition began within a few days. I spend a lot of time on the internet looking for plumbing and lighting fixtures. We decided to put in a granite countertop and had sort of been shopping for it for some time. One day we decided to take a trip to a granite shop that we had visited. We had a pattern in mind from their website. When we got to the shop the salesperson showed us a remnant quite different from what we thought we wanted and we both looked at each other and said, “That’s it.” Besides the price was right which always adds to Bob’s delight. Then we went off to visit our daughter and son-in-law and family. When we returned with renewed zeal the project began to unfold. We laughed on occasion about my mantra, “Nothing is as simple or easy as it looks.” With many trips to the big box stores to get the things needed, including replacing three power tools that died, the project was nearing completion. This time Bob decided that he would indeed have the painting done professionally.
It is nearing completion but there are a few thing that still need to be done and we joke each day about which Christmas. The project has had some interesting moments. I have to admit that I was frustrated at times but the other day as I was in the bathroom after the painting was done and decorations put up I was delighted to see how beautiful it is. Had we done it 4 years ago it would likely not be exactly what it is today. It still brings a smile to my face when I wonder whether it will actually be done by this Christmas, but again he never said which Christmas.
In the history of our marriage we have taken on many fairly ambitious remodeling and renovation projects. We are always both involved in them, but our roles differ. Rita and I are both involved in discussion and planning. That’s a good part of our marriage which gives us time to dream and talk about what we would like to do before we get down to a realistic budget and what we can do within that budget. When the project gets started Rita is very good about looking for the visible materials – on this bathroom project she looked in stores and online for faucets and sinks and other materials – then shows them to me for approval. Sometimes she brings things home and takes them back when they aren’t to my liking. Construction design, materials purchase and construction she leaves to me, but stands by to assist me when I need an extra hand.
This all works pretty well for us, except for the issue of getting a project under way. When we have come to a decision about the budget and the general result we are looking for, Rita gets busy finding lighting, plumbing fixtures, decorations, etc. That’s a good thing – she has more patience for it than I do. I am seldom so eager to get going. For me the project is a big commitment and, once started, I feel pressure to get it done. I don’t like to start a project when I know it will be interrupted by a trip somewhere, the holidays or other commitments. The bathroom took several weeks of almost full-time work. I work slowly and deliberately, to avoid costly mistakes (I make some, anyway) and the results are usually good. When I get going I do enjoy the work, the challenge of doing a good job, and seeing the results. When we were younger and budgets were smaller we did almost all of the work ourselves. With larger budgets now, we have started to hire professionals to do the things I like least – especially drywall work and painting.
This week we finally have the bathroom down to a couple of small items which I expect to finish in the next week or so. But the bathroom wasn’t quite the whole project. The plan was to get the den painted at the same time as the bathroom, but it didn’t happen. I want to do a lot of cleaning out and reorganize and reconnect all of my computer equipment. We wanted to get the bathroom painted and I couldn’t get the room prepared so we decided to get it painted later. Now the pressure is on. This time I promised that it would be done by Christmas and actually said “this Christmas” (Does that mean 2012?)
We hope you enjoy our story as you think about stories like this in your marriage. It is in many ways what makes marriage worth living as we get to see life unfold and the intricacies of relationship happen. Thank you, God, for the gift of relationship.
Doesn’t the bathroom look nice? Please share with us stories about your big projects.
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