Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hello Trouble? Be My Guest.

I have not posted about any home improvement projects in while. Not much going on around here on that front. I've had to tread delicately with my husband because when I mention such projects, this is what he hears: "I would like to empty our bank account, invite chaos into our home, and hopefully emasculate you in the process."

I take a pro-active approach to home care, while my husband operates more in the "let sleeping dogs lie," denial, and crisis modes, with perhaps a little passive aggressiveness thrown in.

Blogging is helpful because I can connect with other women who, say, want to move the couch...RIGHT NOW...or rhapsodize on the virtues of Home Goods.

But I'm not really talking about buying a new lamp here.

And I'm not talking about tearing down the wall between my kitchen and living room (although I want to, oh how I want to!)

No, this is about basic personality differences regarding the general upkeep of our home. Take, for example, the landscaping of our property. Just because we had a certain number of bushes when we moved in SEVEN years ago, to my husband it is as if they were ordained by God to be here forever, and any attempt to drastically prune or dare I say remove them would desecrate the sanctity of our 1969 split level.

Inside the house I see crumbling grout and lackluster caulking in our showers. This makes me worry about dreaded water damage. I'd rather fix this now than deal with it later when the drywall is ruined and tiles need to be removed. We have no spare tiles! What would we do?! Crap. Crappity Crap. Unfortunately, a responsible, pro-active homeowner is NOT what my husband sees.

What he sees is a relentless harpie who is inviting trouble. Sure, I may be the same person who tested for and discovered: lead paint, Radon Gas, and asbestos, all of which resulted in a drastic depletion of our bank account, but I'm of the "I'd rather know" school of thought.

Take the rain in our kitchen, which started 3 days after we closed on the house. I kind of wanted to do a little investigating, open up some walls, and see what was causing the leak. He's of the "put a bucket under it be happy when it stops raining" school. This goes along with his generally cheerful attitude about life.

So you can imagine the response he gave me when we were watching a family movie in the basement last week. I started sniffing. "Do you smell mold and mildew?" I asked. Nothing. The kids Shhusshed me. "Tom, this couch smells like mildew. What if we have water problems down here?" Nothing. Then a scathing, "Are you really going to ruin movie night?" kind of a look.

Now Jake has started wheezing and sneezing and I'm pretty much convinced either our house is toxic or he's allergic to our dog. Neither is a welcome thought.

Tom is a little less dramatic about it and just gives him a benadryl.

This got me thinking. Tom doesn't really like to talk about our relationship either, as if discussing problems will make them worse, and not discussing them will somehow keep them from being "real." His way is a lot more pleasant, less painful, and less expensive in the short run. But the long run? Hmmm.

I guess I'm seeing a lot of similarities between our relationship styles and our homeowner styles.

Feel free to discuss.

And BTW, does it surprise you that I was a scab-picker growing up?


Deb said...

-->I think I married you. My husband is in a constant state of NEVER let sleeping dogs lie when it comes to doing stuff around the house and we're always "improving" everything. He is a 110%-er so that does help and we've survived two complete bathroom remodels. I don't ignore problems, I never have a chance to notice them with him around.

Unknown said...

What can of worms did I open by clicking on this post?
Oh, honey...I sooo get this!
As I am typing there is a bucket in my basement catching whatever is dripping from my kitchen with a weekly "bucket patrol" detail, we have a "way" of opening the garage door, there is a "system" involved in hooking up the garden hose.
The moldy smell is chalked up to a sensitive nose.
My husband's motto is "Don't fix it, create a work-around!"

I feel your "all in your head" pain!

Peace ~ Rene

K A B L O O E Y said...

Wait a minute. You were right about radon gas, lead paint and asbestos, and you're being branded a spoil-sport? That's crazy! I bet you're right that there's a correlation between relationship and homeowner styles, but that doesn't mean your relationship his "lead paint" issues. Because Tom generally sounds pretty great. But you're right about this one.

purejoy said...

agree with everyone here. don't sweep this under the rug. the lumps will cripple you one day.

we live a parallel life. right down to the split level.

wish you all the best.

a very well-written post today. you are a spectacular writer. you should write for your local paper about home life.

Anonymous said...

I was a nail-biter AND a scab-picker. I am lucky that my husband would never dream of leaving a bucket under a leak. He is Mr. Fix-it.

When I suggest a project, I have to be careful... else I might ask for 1 bush to come out of the yard and come home to find 5 gone. Or I suggest a $30 project and he has turned it into a $300 dreamy idea in under 5 minutes. Or I ask him to fix something, and he is suddenly the owner of the latest and greatest tool. He motto, is "if you gonna do it, DO IT!!" and "You GOTta have the RIGHT tools for the job!" Sometimes we bite off a little more than we can chew... and then it takes us a while to put on the finishing touches and clean up the dust.

Does this fit with our relationship style? An interesting question. I think so... In almost 20 years of marriage we have definitely hit some rough patches. Neither of us can look the other way for long... all it takes is one restless night of sleep and we begin mending fences. But in our relationship, I am the one that generally makes the project bigger than necessary :)

Kate Coveny Hood said...

As we've discussed before...I relate to Tom on the relationship conversations. But I think that's more of a later life development as I feel like I've got enough on my emotional plate. Chris is more anti-home project because of the expense - but he's the first to worry about leaks and mildew.

Nichole@40daysof said...

My husband is the same way about home repairs/improvements. I only notice an improvement after a Homes on Homes marathon. Pretty much all men are like that about relationship talk. They assume talk about the relationship = trouble. I recently read this book:http://www.amazon.com/Simple-Steps-Take-Marriage-Great/dp/0385342861/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1279061223&sr=8-2-catcorr
It was a bit of an eye opener. The bad attitude about fixing stuff is really annoying.

for a different kind of girl said...

I feel a very kindred connection to you upon reading this post. It's like I'm reading my thoughts while sitting directly inside my head! My husband is a 'head in the sand' man. The bushes in front of our house? The ones that have been damaged for two years after large piles of snow settled upon them, causing them to sink and crack? Oh, aren't they still very lovely in the front of our house! I enjoy waxing poetic about how we should have cut them down two years ago every time we pull into our driveway. Then I get distracted by the state of our garage, which is chaos, which is another metaphor for our relationship. It goes on and on. This past weekend, my husband sanded down the tops of some doors that haven't been closing properly. They haven't been closing properly because of the humidity. Sooner or later, it won't be as humid. Those doors are still going to be sanded down, though...in all their uneven, now unstained glory. Eventually, we'll just need new doors.

Of course, the kicker is we won't actually GET new doors...

Julia said...

You may be my twin separated at birth.

I swear my husband thinks I just think of things that need to be done/repaired/purchased around here. I see it as perpetual maintenance...the next thing just rises to the top of the list. The never ending list.

I guess you're either a scab picker or you don't even notice there's a scab.

I suspect they know there's a scab...they are just really good at ignoring it.

Maybe we should trade spouses with WebSavvyMom. haha.

Ellen aka Ellie said...

My husband is a now a realtor who once was a home flipper. He attends to real problems right away. Money is tight right now, but there were a few things--not problems mind you, just cosmetic stuff--I wanted done before my son's grad party this past Sunday.

Um, I still want them done.

I still love him.

Gelft said...

Similar issues at our house.

I long wanted to rearrange our livingroom and move the tv to a less prominent place. The fact that there was no cable outlet there meant something entirely different to my husband than it did to me.

In his eyes, it meant that the tv couldn't go there. From my perspective, it meant we needed to add a cable outlet.

I finally wired in a new outlet LAST NIGHT and rearranged. It's better than I expected, and my husband has almost recovered from the shock of me cutting a hole in the the wall on purpose.

Also, I'm with you. Suspicion of mold/mildew = immediate investigation needed. Don't let that one slide.

Tracie said...

My husband is like yours. He would NEVER change a thing around here - including burned out light bulbs and furnace filters if it weren't for my nagging, er, reminders.

debbzb said...

I once asked for the overgrown bushes in my new front yard to come out... and then joined the neighbors in the front windows to watch him pull out 30 year old shrubs with a 15 year old toyota celica. Tow rope tied securely to the underside of the hatchback, the little car that could tore up my front yard and eventually pulled out 6 overgrown shrubs that day.
Hey, it's a great way to meet the neighbors!