Dream Marriage Renovation
My name is Louise, and I’m a HGTV addict. Once upon a time my weekends were consumed with hour upon hour of designing on a dime, building Sarah’s house, or traipsing through extreme homes all over the country. It’s a day by day struggle, and I’m weaning myself, but some days are better than others. One show in particular that pulls me in is Property Brothers. Recently while watching an episode I got to thinking about this year’s Heart of Marriage Retreat theme--Renovate My Marriage-Room by Room. It occurred to me that we could drop our marriages right into the middle of one of the episodes. I understand, you think I’m high on HGTV right now. But humor me, and see what you think as I take you scene by scene through the average episode. Scene I--The show starts with a couple who have recruited the brothers (Drew, a real estate agent, and Jonathan, a contractor and designer) to find their “dream home.” From this point on when I say “home,” think instead “marriage.” The couple have given the brothers a long list of wants and must haves for their home. Drew and Jon take the pair to the perfect house. It has everything on their must have list plus some other bells and whistles they had not even thought to think about. But there’s a catch. That perfect dream home, all move-in ready, and is way out of the couple’s price range. They simply do not have what it takes to just move into that dream home. Imagine the disappointment they must feel. Scene II--Jon steps in to calm the couple. He coaches them through this reality check. He explains basically that they have a lot of unrealistic expectations. Then he offers up an option. He encourages them to step back and look beyond what they thought their dream home should be, to what their dream home could be. He convinces them that they can find a house and, with his help, turn it into their dream home. Scene III-- Okay, so this scene doesn’t apply to our marriages. In this scene the couple gets to shop around to find a house that has the potential to become their dream home. In our case, we already have what can be our dream marriage. We don’t get to do any shopping. Scene IV--Excitement is in the air as everyone revs up to make this thing happen. Jon and the couple have developed a design and started to pick out finishes and furniture, and we can’t wait to see the finished project. Then comes demolition day. We see countertops crashed and cabinets yanked off the walls. We see walls and ceilings being pulled down. But wait, what’s that behind that wall? Of course there has to be drama, and this is where it occurs. The couple find that despite all the planning and designing and picking, they couldn’t plan, design or pick when or how the unexpected would show up. Sometimes on the show the little surprises are minor and can be fixed by Jon or by the couple. Others however, require some expert intervention. Here, I’ll just discuss three of those kind of surprises and relate those to our marriages.
Electrical. Yep, wiring. Scientific research has shown and we basically know that men and women are wired differently. But we sometimes forget. Sometimes, we fail to accept and respect those differences. We try to rewire our mates to do and be what we incorrectly think they should be. Other times, we overload our circuits by trying to force them to take on more than they were meant to handle. Wives, are we trying to be the man and the woman of the house? Not only are we wired differently, but sometimes our life choices and experiences have caused our wires to get frayed and crossed and as a result, we can short circuit. And far too often, rather than consulting the experts or even just taking a short course at the Home Depot to get these problems corrected and currents running properly again, we do duct tape therapy and determine that “this will do.” Until it doesn’t.
Water damage/mold. It starts small. Just a little leak when it rains. Should we say something? Should we do something? Yes, probably. But we tell ourselves that it’s no big deal. After all, it only happens when it rains. We don’t want to create any unnecessary drama over such a little thing. Besides we don’t really have the time, the energy, the resources, or even the desire to do anything about it right now. You’re probably thinking, “What is she talking about?” Well, how many times have you failed to address an issue with your spouse while it was still a small issue? How often have you waited until a little problem (think lying, overspending, flirting) became bigger and bigger, until things began to crumble down around you or started to grow and spread into all aspects of your relationship, like deadly mold?
Termites. Those pesky critters. Everyone hates them. We all know that they can literally destroy a home from the inside out before we even know they’re around. So how do they get in in the first place? And, how do they become so pervasive? One of the top reasons termites invade in the first place is because they are attracted to places where moisture accumulate. See water damage above. I did some research on termites for this blog and found that termites feed on dead things. So your marriage isn’t dead, you’re still together, right? But, termites also feed on dead parts of living things. Have you allowed something to die in your marriage? Is the communication fading? Is the trust on life support? Has the romance flat lined? Scene V--Everyone has agreed that the problem is so big and so serious that it can only be resolved by calling in the experts trained in its remediation. I think my favorite expert is the one that goes after those termites. The exterminator usually starts by putting up a sealed tent over the entire structure, from the foundation to the chimney top. Then, a deadening gas is pumped into the structure. Electric fans are run to force the gas throughout the entire house, so that it flows into the cracks and crevices where termites are hiding and feeding. After the termites are destroyed, the home is treated to keep away further infestations and the work is begun to repair the damage already done. Scene VI--In this final scene, the couple have recovered from the disappointment of the reality check of unrealistic expectations. They’ve worked hard and waited anxiously to move into their dream home. They’ve survived the setback caused by the unexpected, and they walk happily into the dream home they have built. Show’s over folks. On to the next couple. Humph. But what about us? How can we use this HGTV show to make our marriages a dream marriage? Well, I suggest we can do the same things the couple does. We can start by consulting our brothers and sisters who have some experience. We can talk to those around us who we’ve seen turn a tear down into a dream. We can surround ourselves with people who not only know about building dream homes, but also are committed to helping us do the same. We can release our unrealistic expectations, accept what we have to work with, and commit to make that the very best it can be. When the unexpected happens (and it will) we can choose to not give up the dream, but, if needed consult the experts to help us remediate the problem. And finally, we can cover our marriage in prayer, and allow God’s breath of life to flow into all those dead places. ________________________ Louise and Norris, her husband of 28 years, live in Atlanta and attend Ben Hill United Methodist Church.