Marriage · Personal Development

The Ugly House and How I Don’t Need To Understand It

We had seen 20 maybe 25 houses with our realtor when we saw this one. “But it’s ugly.” I pouted. The house was built in the 70s and it looked as though absolutely nothing had been done to it. The bathrooms were harvest gold, and that weird green. The kitchen had door handles smack dab in the center of the cabinet doors. The counter top was… textured. R loved this house. The deck was huge, the garage held 4 cars easily, the kitchen layout – was nice – and ugly. I could not get over this ugly house. “We’ll have so much work.” Work that we could do he assured me.

Iris and Oleander Kitchen 2
The cabinets took about 2 weeks start to finish – look amazing!

When my husband was 16 he worked summers under the table for his friend’s dad. He has more or less constructed an entire house. So he’d sweat pipe, he’d installed electrical outlets, he’d hung drywall. I on the other hand had not, and it was intimidating. How could I properly help if I didn’t understand?

My fear took over one of the first weekends in our new home, when the bypass for the water softener broke and we had no water until it was fixed. (Plus our well pump was being fixed – it was a stressful weekend) Standing there in the home depot at 9 PM as he sorted through bins of copper placing them methodically on the concrete floor. I was confused. I didn’t even know what a water softener bypass was. I was tired. I was being a bitch. “I don’t get it.” I said for the 4th time.

“You don’t have to, just trust me.” He didn’t even look up at me.

He thought I didn’t trust him? Of course I trusted him, I just didn’t understand what he was doing.

Did I need to understand, really? No, not to know that my finance is smart. I don’t have to understand plumbing to know my future husband knows his own limits. If he didn’t think he could do this he wouldn’t do this. I don’t have to understand to know that asking repetitive questions was not helpful.

Iris and oleander Feet
Generally just making a mess, it’s what I do.

The next morning I sat quietly and watched as he pieced everything together sweating  the pipe and eventually cutting into the old bypass to replace it. Of course it was perfect. And we had running water once again. I quietly told him “I didn’t doubt you, I just don’t get what goes through your head”. He laughed and told me neither does he – he just does it. But, he also said we had a lifetime to work on our communication.

When I help out around the house I don’t always know what he’s doing, but saying things like “I don’t get it” just frustrates us both. “Why?”, and “How?” are silly questions on their own. They don’t express to him what I’m confused about. The do not aid me in learning what to do, either.

So I spend time watching YouTube videos so I would ask less questions and when we do get to work I make a point to ask purposeful question.

The next time we worked on plumbing I could better anticipate the order he would do everything and I could have his tools ready and waiting in the order I knew he would need them in. He could task me to do some of the prep work and then he would take over to actually play with fire. Divide and conquer, it’s what we do. 

Plus, my research lead to tips and tricks he had not heard of before. (Did you know if you’re working on a pipe that you can’t get fully dry if you shove a small piece bread into it it soaks up the water, then dissolves and pushes through when you turn the water back on – neat huh?)

Iris and Oleander Kitchen Reno
I should probably stop calling it the ugly house, I think it’s rather cute now.

While our home renovations are fairly light we’re not ripping drywall down to the studs (yet) it still requires patients and learning. We can pack for a road trip hardly saying two words to each other and never leave anything behind because we do it so often. This is a new adventure, and requires us to improve on our communication. Mostly it requires Iris to shut up. But – I’m working on that. 🙂


Until next time,
Follow me on twitter IrisAndOleander, and don’t forget to subscribe if you like what you read.







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