While building a house can be very fun and exciting, it can also be mentally and physically draining. It can make dreams come true, but it can sometimes lead to marital problems. Henry and I are often asked, “How have you maintained a happy marriage through the building of several homes?” This is a great question that I’m going to try and answer within this post.
I have thought about what really has kept us together and not just together, but happy! Prayer, prayer, and more prayer my friend! While this is kind of funny, it is very true. Looking back, it was somewhat of a challenge to make sure and keep our marriage happy during the building process of our houses. Here are a few things that we did that helped.
Plan, Plan, and more Planning
Knowing ahead of time that the process of building a house isn’t easy is a great place to start. I have said this before, but although we are firm believers in building, it just isn’t for everyone!
Making sure you are well prepared for any obstacles that may come along the way will definitely help. Good planning could possibly eliminate many arguments that may arise. Building a home, like anything else in life, will be full of ups and downs.
In my opinion, the most important plan to have in place would be a financial plan. This is the number one place arguments stem from. The finances and the budget should already be in place before the process starts. It could be as easy as using a spreadsheet or as much as getting a financial advisor involved.
If you are using a contractor, this will be something he will do for you. You will be budgeted a certain amount for each phase of the project. Just keep in mind, many times a contractor’s budget may be limited and on the low end. For us, it was a simple spreadsheet and a wife who knew she couldn’t afford high end items everywhere…lol.
Dividing responsibility and taking on roles before the process starts is another great idea. Henry and I have each had the same role in every build. In fact, this really wasn’t something we had to appoint, we just knew each other’s strengths, abilities, and what we enjoyed.
For example, Henry does all the design work, the look and feel of the home, and even some hands on projects. I am not good at making decisions, so he will come up with a design and look, I will then choose what I like from his design. If we don’t agree at all, he normally goes back and later gives me a couple more choices. I know, I know, your thinking Henry does most of the work…lol.
I actually stay very busy with my job also. I always take care of the clerical side of things, money managing, budgeting, paying people, and the errand running. Knowing what your partner is most comfortable dealing with and managing his or her responsibilities will help make the building process go so much smoother.
This is the one area Henry and I have the most trouble with. It is very important to “step away” from all areas of your project and take time for your family and yourselves. This may include a date night, a fun family night, or even a short vacation, but keep in mind, talking about the house is off limits! This is so important for the well being of your family.
Building a house is time consuming and will take over your life if you allow it to. Up front, make it a goal to set aside this “step away” time. I would recommend doing this at least once a week. Most of the time we managed to plan it on Friday evenings and Sundays. We would take a date night on Fridays and on Sundays would be set aside for family day.
The week was always busy with decisions and visits to the house. This is hard to get around due to the nature of normal work hours. Evenings were always consumed with homework, ballgames, and running errands to Lowes and Home Depot. Saturdays seemed to mostly be a clean-up work day at the house. No matter where you find “step away” time, find it somewhere! This is crucial and will be desperately needed. It will be your saving grace!
Staying focused on why you started building this home and how great the finished product is going to be is also important. You will get frustrated, side-tracked, and even feel like you want to quit, but pick yourself up again and remind yourself its only a house.
I remember in the process of making decisions they seemed so important and life changing. While in fact, they were minor pieces to what was very frivolous to the final product. I promise I don’t look at the little bump in the sheetrock in our sons closet or the two head joints in the flooring that are too close to each other…lol.
Also, keep in mind that lots of decisions may be cosmetic and will be changed over the years anyway as styles change. Stay focused on the the main things and what really is important to you and your husband and don’t fret over the rest!
As I have repeatedly said to you all, building a house is not easy, but it can be one of the most rewarding things you do. The road is hard, long, and not always a walk in the park. Us, we prefer to work for what we have and while doing so, make it enjoyable. The challenges and hard work are what makes the process so rewarding in the end.