My husband and I are do-it-yourselfers. Sort of.
Actually, we’re we-won’t-pay-to-have-someone-else-do-this-for-us-ers. That means we end up doing a lot of DIY projects around the house. Together.
We’ve ripped out bushes, put down mulch, laid a patio, and painted every single vertical surface and inch of trim inside our home. We’ve also installed baseboards, door frames, closet units, tile floors, bathroom fixtures, a dishwasher, an oven hood, and the kitchen sink. Just to name a few.
And, somehow, we’ve done it all without killing each other. Or yelling at each other. Or driving either of us crazy enough to stop loving each other.
But it isn’t always easy.
Different Equals Better
You see, my husband is a man, and I’m a woman. We tend to like that fact. But that difference also opens the door to trouble since we don’t naturally think or work alike.
He’s a dude; I’m a chick.
He’s strong; I’m a weakling.
He eye-balls it; I measure it.
He gets annoyed; I keep trying.
He figures it out; I read every single instruction.
He works like he’s super-human; I work like a stereotypical girl.
He knows each tool he owns; I forget which screwdriver is a Philips.
He thinks everything will be fine; I double check that we’re doing it right.
He says I’m pretty; I say he’s a stud.
We’re different, but that’s a good thing. We each fill the gaps in the other person. And because all four of our hands are needed for most DIY projects, we’ve had to learn to work together without letting it ruin the good thing we’ve got between us.
8 Tips for Working with Your Husband
1. Don’t complain.
It’s probably hot, smelly, dirty, heavy, or really hard to do. I’ve learned to suck it up, do my best, and keep my negative opinion to myself.
2. Help in little ways.
Look for small, sometimes annoying, jobs that need done. I can run back to the garage six times to grab the tools we forgot. I can fix some ice water so we don’t pass out. I can hold things steady, find the scissors, and look for the missing screwdriver (um…what does a Philips look like?).
3. Use your unique skills.
Always be on the lookout for tasks that your husband isn’t skilled at or really hates to do, and fill the gaps. I’m good at reading and deciphering directions, so that part is always my job. I’m also little enough to fit into small spaces, and I’m careful enough to paint around the edges of the room.
4. Avoid criticism and critiques.
Offer suggestions, but don’t nag. For real. Don’t make the same point over and over, or mention everything that was done wrong, or protest continually. Consider the worst thing that could happen, and decide if it’s really important enough to keep pressing your opinion.
5. Never say, “I told you so.”
You’re a team, and that means you’re in this thing together, no matter what. Even if you knew a better way and something went wrong because your directions weren’t followed, never say, “I told you so.” Just don’t.
6. Don’t pile on the requests.
Avoid the temptation to ask for “one more thing”…and then another…and yet another. The desire to complete a honey-do list will quickly fade if it keeps growing as the day goes on. Some projects or details can wait for another time.
Projects produce frustrations, and sometimes those frustrations bubble up and spill over. Try not to take everything personally. Remember that your husband is probably mad at the darn pipe that won’t fit, not you. Forgive him quickly and completely.
(Note: I am not talking about abusive situations, only the annoyed attitude or tone of voice that can rise up during frustrating times. There is never a good excuse for abusive words or actions.)
8. Remind him that you’re a girl.
Your differences can be a good thing, but that’s hard to remember when a task actually requires more manly strength or skill than you can offer. When I have a difficult time helping with a hard job, I flash my husband a playful grin and remind him that he married a girl…and that it’s one of the things he likes about me. A little female charm can go a long way.
Remember What’s Really Important
At the end of the day, it won’t matter if the tile floor turned out perfectly, if the paint smudged a little around the edges, or if the sink took eight full hours to install.
Okay, it might matter to you at the end of the day, but you won’t even remember it at the end of your years together.
What really matters is how you feel about each other. Enjoy the time you spend working with your husband and build memories for your future.
When I look around our house, I see the hours and hours we’ve spent laboring together. There are DIY memories everywhere. Every wall that’s been painted, every faucet replaced, every tile installed.
And when we work together well, we’re building more than a home. We’re building our marriage.