Recently my wife and I decided it was time to remodel portions of our home. Kitchen, deck, the “man cave,” and an art studio for her. By the way, what do you call the wife’s version of the husband’s “man cave?”
Undergoing a renovation on this scale can be straining on a relationship. I can see where nerves can become frayed and patience thin. Luckily for us my wife and I enjoy primitive camping (camping in a tent rather than a cabin, pop-up trailer, or RV). This has allowed us the opportunity to do some indoor camping. It’s actually nice because unlike our primitive camping trips, we have electricity for a coffee maker, toaster oven, etc. There are inconveniences of course, but all-in-all we are viewing this as a challenge rather than frustration.
Working with the remodeling team has been insightful. We have discussed our desires for the outcome of our project with planners, designers, electricians, plumbers, and contractors. What I have gleaned from our interactions is that apparently we are an odd couple.
We did not want a new automatic dishwasher for the renovated kitchen because we never used the one we had. To be honest, I don’t know if it ever worked because neither of us tried. Hand-washing and drying has always been our method of cleaning up after a meal. The new kitchen will also not have a garbage disposal. Not needed since we are composting. Besides, the disposal has the potential for causing odor, all that ground up food waste with no way to clean. Yuck.
These preferences of ours raised a few eyebrows during the design discussions but we know what we want and need and what we don’t.
What set off the “odd” meter occurred during the walk-through. “Where is the television?” one of the contractors asked. We do have one television that resides in the “man cave” and is used mainly for when I need a B-Flick infusion. I don’t watch sitcoms, reality shows, or made-for-television movies. My sports viewing is limited to the World Cup, Olympic games, and the occasional college football game. My wife and I watch one television show during the week together. One hour long. And only if there are new episodes. “So what do you do at night?” was the next question. The answer was even more peculiar than only having one television in the home.
We talk to each other.
Not only was this an unexpected response, I could actually detect horror on the faces of our remodeling team. “What do you talk about?” Anything and everything. We don’t spend all of our time talking to each other. Everyone has a limit to how much time one person can spend with another before nerves get worn. Personal, private space is important. And we don’t spend all of our time talking. Sometimes we are reading books or articles on the Internet, challenging each other in Facebook games, or simply sitting in each other’s presence enjoying the quiet. There are other activities we enjoy as well, but this is a family-friendly blog so we’ll just leave it at that. 🙂
We also have our own separate hobbies to fill that personal space. I enjoy backpacking and blogging and she spends time in her greenhouse with her “babies” (orchids) and has a flair for creativity (painting, sewing, etc.).
As a family law paralegal I have heard my wife explain to others the key times she sees couples going through divorce. There is the 10 year mark – should have never gotten married, can’t stand each other, can’t live with each other; the 25 year mark – kids are now gone and we actually have to talk to each other, not the same person I married; and the 40 year mark – both retired and getting on each other’s nerves, or good God he/she isn’t dead yet!
Personally I think the secret to a strong and happy relationship boils down to two things: communication and cool points. Okay, maybe three: having a sense of humor. If the thought of spending time with your partner doing nothing more than talking to each other gives you a sense of dread, that is probably a warning sign. For my wife and I, talking to each other is a natural part of our day so while we may be an odd couple, we are at least a happy odd couple.