Your house is a manifestation of your relationship. As Dean says, something very personal happens when you choose a piece of furniture or a room color or a style. Before that choice you were just walking along with all of your essence hidden safely away inside yourself. But then, make a visible choice, display your taste where everyone else can see, and suddenly there's a piece of you out there, exposed and subject to judgment.
Few things test a relationship like remodeling, because …
- Money … a lot of it. You're playing around with your largest financial investment.
- Ego … sometimes big ones, tied to old wounds and even childhood dreams.
According to a houzz.com survey 12% of couples considered separation or divorce during their remodel.
But for those who survive …
- 84% said they now spend more time at home.
- 80% said they feel more relaxed in their home.
- 42% do more entertaining.
- 41% reported an increase in their level of happiness with their partner
So how do we get to those numbers and avoid being part of the 12% considering divorce?
1.Evaluate whether it's the right time, not just for the house but for the relationship.
2.Find a way to deal with differing levels of enthusiasm for the project.
Major relationship decisions usually come to one partner with urgency and not the other - with the non-initiator being dragged along and feeling free to be critical and resentful of any problems that arise, “This was YOUR idea …” In those cases the initiator needs to say something like, “Ok, I know you don't want to handle all this, so I’ll take point, but I really need your input and support. I’ll make lists of choices but then I want to make the final decision together.” And the non-initiator needs to offer that support. And appreciate, not resent, the hard work of handling such decisions.
3.Plan extensively for dislocation, decompression, and delays.
4.Practice the art of Collaboration
Collaborate is not the same as tolerate. It’s a belief that embracing other perspectives will improve the results. Don't fear disagreement.
The rules of collaboration are similar to the rules of improv:
- Say, “Yes.” - New ideas are fragile. Handle with care and don’t judge any idea too early.
- Say “Yes, and …” - Don’t just agree but contribute.
5.Learn to Compromise
Compromise doesn’t mean losing yourself. It means analyzing what is central to your identity and what is farther out on the fringe.
6.“Know thyself.” (Inscribed on the temple of Apollo at Delphi)
Get underneath your tastes, requests, frustrations and opinions to what’s driving them. You cannot build a custom home for someone who does not understand the why of their own customs.
7.Get over being a design theme purist.
Think of yourselves as innovators. Marriage itself is the creation of something entirely new. There should be evidence that you both live there, AND that you live there as a couple.
8.Don't assert territorial design rights if your partner moved into your house.
9.It's common for one partner to be more utilitarian and the other more aesthetic.
Use it. Don't forget, architecture is both shelter and story. You also have varying gifts and abilities. Survey your strengths and delegate accordingly.
10.Shop together whenever possible so big choices don't sneak up on you.
11.Don’t avoid consulting with a professional. Design Matters Most!
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PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images