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| || || | Remodeling a home together is one of the most stressful things married people do. Divorce statistics must spike right along with applications for building permits. Married folks wanting to test the strength of their bond need only repaint the bedroom, add that new deck, or redo the kitchen to find out what their union is really built of. Disagreements over colors, styles, cost, removal and addition of keepsakes and on and on, all can drive a wedge in the most solidly constructed marriage. By the time the project is finished, it may feel like a small skirmish, or even a major battle, to see it through. And, if not viewed from arm's length, a remodeling job at home can leave scars on a marriage that last til the next paint job is needed. Here are ten pre-project considerations on how to avoid the impasses and conflict that arise in every home makeover, things to include in every remodeling plan. If done well, a byproduct can even be an upgraded marriage.
- Be brutally honest about what the plan is, and how long it might take. Most people considering a home remodeling project have a vague, foggy idea of how the room or half the house would look afterward, giving little thought to specifics. This is a recipe for 'mission creep', and a great way to create apprehension about where things are going. Before the contractor(s) arrive, nail down--pun intended--every last paint color, removal and addition of furniture, drape, blind, carpet, or any other change in the room you can, regardless of how silly or odd it may seem. Take nothing for granted. The idea is to avoid any "I thought we talked about this..." moments.
- Cost of the project must be written down, a known quantity, a 'hard' number rather than a vague idea, and it must be realistic. Nothing is cheap anymore. My wife and I recently redid our bedroom--paint, simple drapes, inexpensive blinds, a framed picture, at a cost of around $1,000 dollars. We considered new bedding, sheets, pillowcases, coverlet etc., which would have almost doubled the cost, and decided against the outlay for now. If necessary, get on-line and look at the true cost of things. One or the other of you may not have any idea, and the lack of a realistic understanding going in leads to sticker shock, and anxiety later. This doesn't have to be another occasion for tension, but there's no reason either spouse should know what things cost. It's not something we're born with, after all. Just because they're called ten penny nails doesn't mean they cost ten cents each. Go to the experts for the real answers.
- Along those lines, start with a small project. Remodel a utility bathroom, or do a minor upgrade to a den. A small, relatively inexpensive job gives you a good idea of the workflow, cost, time-line and all the little irritants that only magnify in a larger job.
- Hire a contractor. This may sound contradictory to that mentioned in number two, to minimize cost, but it's not. Too many people--women and men these days--believe they can do various remodeling jobs themselves cheaper, better, more quickly than hiring it out. The end result can be quite good. But it can be frustrating, poor quality, endlessly time consuming, and a real bruise to the ego when a mate yearns to have the job finished, and the end is nowhere in sight. With the do-it-yourself approach, the potential for an "I told you so" is always present, and those are hard on a marriage. With all the unforeseen tools required, runs to the hardware store, time off work, construction disarray, and miscellaneous interruptions to the project, not to mention possible unsafe results and code violations, it could very well end up being cheaper in the long run to hire a professional. Plus, the pros are insured and bonded, they know building codes, you can access their past clients to check out their credentials and they're available to redo something that isn't quite right.
- Having planned the project to a gnats patoot, set the cost in concrete, learned all the ins and outs, the time frames, and the final result, go over it yet again, and see if it's what you really want. It may be helpful to designate the project as one of your own, with your mate agreeing to stay on the sidelines. That is, you take the kitchen; I'll take the den etc.. If you're able to do this, and to give up any input to your mate's project, it may be the best approach to getting the remodel job you want. With both spouses having full time careers these days, and incomes even, or nearly so, the ego factor can intervene in any home project.
- How long are you planning to stay in the home, and why are you remodeling in the first place? This may seem like an odd question, but the fact remains that we tend to spruce a house up with new paint, carpeting and even full new kitchens to sell it to someone else--who may not like what we've done, and redo it! Be realistic about it; do the job for your own enjoyment, leave it go, or minimize it.
- In the middle of a remodeling job is no time to question number 6.
- As they say, change is inevitable, except from a pop machine. Even the best plans must be subject to change. If one of you decides they really don't like the paisley curtains after all, or the lavender paint just doesn't go with the gold and silver carpet like you hoped it might, all is not lost. Find the cheapest way to back off the plan, and discuss it with your mate. This is a good time for the 48 hour rule: Stop the project, wait 48 hours to make a decision, and then implement it.
- Take pictures all along the way. This allows you to end up with before and after shots, keeps your contractor honest, helps you track the job for the sake of both you and your mate, and may be a good idea for the insurance file. Take digital shots, create a file on the computer, and fill it up.
- Perhaps the best advice for staying sane, healthy, happy--and married--in the midst of a remodeling project is to leave. That's right, take off. Take my advice, hire a contractor, ascertain that they have all the tools, supplies, time and information they need, then whisk your mate away to the islands for a week. Give the contractor the number to your hotel, or your cell phone, and tell them not to call unless the house burns down, and even then...
Relax, enjoy, forget the dust and disruption going on back home. Imagine returning home to the dream kitchen, or fashionable new living room you saw in the magazine. The view can be like seeing your shared home again for the first time.
Remodeling? Do the homework first, write everything down, take pictures before and after, and do some real soul searching on ways to include your mate. A time filled with potential for tension can instead be a constructive way to rebuild your marriage. And that requires no building permit whatsoever.
Simple Tips To Keep The Flame In Your Marriage Lit
As you get older you start to look more closely at happily married couples to try and glean what it is that keeps them together. What do they have going for them that keeps them together and happy? It appears that some married men never leave because they have no reason to leave.
There is a very true saying in this world and that is -"It takes two to Tango." That my friends, is the essence of why some married men never leave and others do.
What I am saying is that to make a marriage work and for each individual to be fulfilled, it requires a commitment to the marriage by each party. No marriage will achieve its full potential, unless both parties work together and are totally committed to each other. When this happens, what develops is a marriage where there is mutual respect for each other as well as tolerance, forgiveness, understanding and above all love. Love is the one strong constant that binds all successful marriages. Love is not automatic; it requires work and sometimes, hard work. Too often couples fall out of love and instead of working together to repair why this has happened, they simply walk away and look for someone else to love. Reality is such that when this happens, there is every chance that they never find that true love that they think they are looking for. Truth be known, they had it there in front of them but failed to recognise and nurture it.
Couples, who seek help, generally are able to go on and develop long term and happy marriages. It's like lots of things in life, if something is not working or broken down, get some help to get the problem fixed. Imagine if we all left our broken cars or lawn mowers where they are without having them looked at for possible repairing? The same goes for a relationship. There are many examples of couples who have the best marriages today, yet at some stage they needed help.
From a male's perspective, I can tell you that my greatest achievement in life has been to make my marriage work. I have been married for over 30 years and I love my wife who is my best friend without any doubt in this world. Sure there have been difficult times and there have been some sad times. Life is not easy, what with children to look after, careers to be established and mortgages to pay; there can be enormous pressure in any relationship. The pride for me is that I have achieved this, but not without my partner helping me to enjoy our journey together.
Why some married men never leave is easy to understand for me. Why would I want to leave a relationship where - I am loved, I am appreciated, I am content, I am respected, I am happy. Why would I? I know some men who have gone off with younger women. Good luck to them! That's not for me. Sure my wife has a few more wrinkles than she did when we first met, but guess what? - So have I! We are growing old together and that suits me fine. I am sure that my children and my grandchildren are pleased that this particular married man never left. Life is hard enough at the best of times and I am glad that my life is pretty uneventful and simple and that I am on my journey with the girl that I met so many years ago and we are having a wonderful life together.
Getting through the First Year of Marriage
As a newlywed, you are new to the job. It’s normal if you’re having a difficult time adjusting and finding your groove. With patience and diligence, you’ll improve. “Marriage is an art and job, and you can learn the skills that will help,” says Molly Barrow, a counselor and author of the book, Matchlines: A Revolutionary New Way of Looking at Relationships . Here are some of Barrow’s top tips in key areas of newlywed life:
- Accept Conflict
Everyone argues. Barrow warns that couples who think they can avoid disagreements are acting childishly. The difference between a couple with a solid relationship and one that is on a rocky road is how they deal with conflict. There’s always one spouse who wants to resolve every issue immediately. But Barrow suggests not doing that because it’s unfair to the other partner. Instead, you should give your spouse time to process your position, share his or her position, and then “let it cook,” says Barrow. She advises letting it cook for as long as possible while maintaining a positive attitude on your relationship. Eventually, she says, a compromise will emerge.
- Go Slow and Steady
Give yourselves time to get used to being married. Barrow says it may take a year before you are settled into your new life. “It’s rocky that first year,” she says. “Any fights that you’re having are probably the same ones you’ll have when you’re 75 years old, and you’re not going to solve them that first year.” That’s okay. Sometimes, you have to simply agree to disagree. Do not get frustrated if you're still finding your way on your first anniversary.
- Embrace Your Differences
Often people are attracted to one another for the things they have in common. Their differences cause conflict. But Barrow says they do more than that. The differences you have bring excitement, interest, and can serve as an introduction to new adventures and experiences for your partner, she adds. In other words, you would have a pretty boring relationship without them. Quit wearing the same kinds of clothes and trying to act like your partner. Instead, embrace and pursue your unique self and share that person with your spouse, and have him or her do the same.
- Build Trust
More important than intimacy, trust is a necessity to developing an everlasting bond, says Barrow. Building trust is simpler than you might think. “Mean what you say and do what you promise,” says Barrow. “Don’t let yourself be dominated into making a promise you don’t intend to keep.” In other words, if you know you never want to live in a certain state, don’t tell your spouse you’ll eventually move there. If you say you’re going to be at home by 10 p.m., be home by 10 p.m. It’s that simple.
- Brace Yourself for a Lack of Romance
The bad news: Passion dies. The good news: It makes a comeback. The truth is that relationships are not all roses and champagne all the time. No one can maintain that kind of rush. When you pile on stress, responsibilities, poor eating habits, and the tediousness of everyday life, you will not be as wild in bed as you once were, says Barrow. “Lots of times in our society, it’s all about the climax,” she says. “Pay more attention to the journey and less to the ultimate result or finish line.” Weather the storm, make time for one another, and let nature take its course. Eventually, you’ll land in each other’s arms again.
- Show Kindness to Your In-Laws
Your spouse can not trade in his or her parents, and criticizing them will only cause hurt feelings. Barrow suggests letting your in-laws spend as much time as they want with your spouse, even if you don’t always join them. You don’t have to love your in-laws, but you have to tolerate them. Barrow says that it helps to try to see the situation through their eyes. “Some parents have a broken heart when their children grow up and go away,” she says. “It’s not all about you. The motivation is probably love.” Have a little compassion and give your in-laws a break.
- Be Realistic
Recognizing the natural ebb and flow of a relationship will serve you well. “Some days you wake up passionately in love, and some days you wake up mad at the world,” says Barrow. Realize your relationship is not doomed just because you have a negative attitude one day. It just means that you are human. Move on and wait for the next day, when you wake up in love -- and make the most of it.
Illustration from Clyde Mendes column at MetroSexual LA
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