When people find out that we're building a house, they always joke, "So, how's your marriage going?" Oftentimes, people say that when you do a large renovation or home project together, it takes a real toll on your relationship. Honestly, the process of building a house has made me the most stressed than I have probably ever been in my entire adult life…yet my marriage has never been better. I know, how annoying that I can say that, right? In contrast to how giant projects like these can be hard on a relationship, I think it's actually this process that has made my husband, Bob, and I communicate even more than we normally do and work through things because we HAVE TO for the sake of meeting deadlines. The urgency to communicate about our future kitchen's layout or where our outlets need to go has also led to more communication between us in general. So, today I am sharing our tips for How to Stay Married (and Keep Your Sanity) While Building a House (or during a major home project)…
1. Decide jointly upfront what's most important to you. Are you most concerned with form and style, function, budget, timeline? At some point, any one (or all) of those things will be called into question by you or someone who is part of the construction process with you. That's when you need to be firm and united on what can budge on or what can't.
2. Assign who will interact with vendors. You will make everyone's life easier (yours, your contractor, your architect, the bank, and everyone involved) if you designate one point person for each of them. If both you and your partner have the ability and time to be very active in the project, you can assign different teams to each one of you. But for us, it made sense for me to be the primary contact for everyone because I'm just better at quickly communicating, I have a more flexible work schedule, and because I spend more time in front of a computer than my husband does.
3. Put one person in charge of most of the decision-making. With a home build, there are a million decisions to make…from large ones like deciding the general layout of your house to tiny ones like what color knobs your kitchen drawers will have. Both of us were heavily involved in the overall look and functionality of our house. We had weekly meetings with our architects while in the initial design phase. But now that we're in the construction phase which has a lot of smaller changes and decisions that need to be made weekly, we jointly decided that I would be in charge of those. I will make the decision about most things, and if there is something I know my husband will have a strong opinion on, I'll wait for him to weigh in before answering.
4. Have regularly scheduled meetings about the project. Our architect team had weekly meetings with us during the phase when we were actively designing our house. Now, that we are in construction phase, we have a weekly meeting with both our contractor and architects to review progress and on-going updates. Those standing weekly meetings get built into our schedule and we try to work everything else around them. The meetings have helped SO much in keeping us up to date. And if one of us can't make it due to work conflict, then the other one still goes to represent us both. If your construction team does not have these regular meetings planned for you, get into a habit of doing that yourself, either weekly or every two weeks so you are both caught up on where everything is and there are no surprises.
5. Be okay with compromise. I love bell-shaped brass lights that unfortunately make an annoying noise every time they get touched, but Bob HATES them because he somehow finds a way to bump into them no matter where they are. So as I am looking at light for our bedroom, I knew I had to consider both functional and beautiful options that we could both agree on. And although I imagined our yard filled with wildly colorful flowers, Bob also is allergic to pollen so we are designing our landscaping with low pollen or no pollen plants that would keep him from sneezing every day.
Check out my post on Architectural Digest's Clever where I'm asking tips from other married couples who have built a house together, too! And, next month, I'll be back with a construction update!
Have a great weekend!