But The Trick is Being Okay With the Same
It used to be that my husband never finished any home improvement project, and this habit of his came to be the source of many jokes. For instance, when he installed tile flooring in our old house, he never quite got around to nailing one of the baseboards to the wall. He just sort of propped it there. Every other day or so, as I walked from the kitchen to the living room, my foot would accidentally catch on it, causing the board to fly across the room with a loud clatter.
It probably only takes a few minutes to pull out a hammer and four or so nails, but it was four minutes he never seemed to have.
I could tell you about 17 or so other projects just like that, but I won’t because I promised myself that this would be my shortest post ever and I’m trying to stick to my promise.
At any rate, when my husband started renovating the kitchen in our new house four years ago, I suspected that he might never finish the project. That’s why I was neither surprised nor disappointed when, after ripping the wood paneling from the walls, he never got around to installing the tiles.
Our daughter was only about three years old back then, and the ugly kitchen walls seemed quite scary to her. The first time she saw them, she cried. I, on the other hand, found the half finished kitchen somewhat charming. It was a great conversation starter, and it was also somewhat artistic. It *almost* looked as if we’d left it that way on purpose.
I said almost, okay?
Over the years, I got so used to the half finished kitchen that I barely noticed it. Oh sure, when the CBS Early Show came to our house and our half finished kitchen ended up on national TV, it occurred to me that perhaps I should nag him about it. The thought also crossed my mind when I hosted Thanksgiving this year.
But really, for the most part, I didn’t care. The kitchen could have stayed that way for 20 more years and it wouldn’t have become a source of marital discord.
But then a few weeks ago, I began trying to refinance our house. This required an appraisal. I needed the house to appraise for a certain value in order for the refinance to go through.
That’s when I mentioned to my husband that it would be nice if he finished the kitchen.
“If we can refinance, we’ll have $300 more every single month,” I said. “That’s enough for you to go on a nice ski trip every single year.”
It spurred him into action.
I never assumed that he would completely finish the job. I figured he’d leave the caulking until retirement. Or perhaps the switch covers would never get screwed on. I didn’t know what it would be, but something would never get done. After all, that was his M.O. He was the guy who never completely finished a home improvement project.
All I wanted was for the kitchen to *look* finished to a home appraiser. That was all.
But he surprised me.
A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.