Friday, September 25, 2009

Okay, okay...How to Survive 2.0

(I have once again neglected my blog. Thanks to Les and Jen for reminding me. It's funny how I want to write a book someday, but I can't even stay current with my one literary output.)

How to Survive a Building Project with Your Husband (who reads this blog...)

For the last three months, my darling husband and I have been working on making our backyard the sanctuary we always hoped it could be. Together we have built a deck, two large planters (okay, I only designed and picked out the materials for these), and are 70% done with our patio. The plan is to finish the patio completely tomorrow, if the rain decides to stop (and my body decides to heal; yes, regular readers, I am sick again).

Doing anything with my spouse is fun. That's generally why we got hitched in the first place. But when we create things together, it is enormously rewarding. The working side-by-side, sharing the joys and the frustrations, feels like love to me. But we are both very smart and capable people, so working together can be tricky (this is assuming it's easy for dumb and clueless people to take orders from others?). For example, he doesn't so much like cooking, but he will cook with me when I ask. When we cook together, I'm the Head Chef, and he's the Sous Chef. It's definitely a joint effort, but someone has to be in charge. He knows a lot, but I know more. It's my arena. With building projects, the roles are reversed. He's the Foreman, and I'm the Grunt (sometimes literally, as I often just schlep the tools and materials around; I'm very good at handing things to him). So, here it is, version 2.0 of how to survive life, rules to surviving a building project with your husband:

1. He is not always right. Ha! Betcha thought it would be he IS always right! Couldn't be farther from the truth. It is very important to speak up if you think something is wrong or could be done differently. It is equally important to be as tactful as possible in these situations. He is not WRONG. You are making an observation or a suggestion. Mostly, this is because later, if you have kept your mouth shut and you say something, he will inevitably say, "Why didn't you say that before?" Now, my husband is awesome, so he does not feel threatened. Often, he asks for my opinion/help/etc. If your husband is a jerk about it, you should probably let him work alone.
2. Let him carry the heavy stuff. I was in pain for days after moving 150 42-pound patio stones from point A to point B. Do the math; that's 6,300 lbs. of concrete! I moved it in 1 1/2 hours. Men (at least mine) are built for that stuff.
2A. Recognize that he gets sore, too. Take breaks. Rub each other's muscles. Take hot bubble baths together. It's a nice reward at the end of a hard work day.
3. It's okay to play the girl card. You are working together because it's fun and it'd be silly for one person to go it alone. That's why you get yourself a life partner: no alone-going. But unless you're super-girl, there's some stuff you just can't do. I, for example, cannot handle a jackhammer, a tiller, a compactor, or a sledge hammer. And I'm strong. You read the about the 6,300 lbs., right?
4. Make breakfast; make snacks; mix the Gatorade; make lunch; but go out to supper. I know my husband thoroughly appreciates my willingness to prepare the foodstuffs during the working times, but I see it as a break. But, because I'm being helpful and productive, it is not viewed as a break. Win/win. After worktime, however, I'm beat. Someone run to Subway. Possibly on the way home from yet another Menard's trip. Which leads to...
5. Be prepared to run to the store at any time. We're lucky. We live within 5 miles of Menard's, 10 miles of Home Depot, and 2 miles of two local hardware stores. Running to the store is easy for us. We have run out of things, changed our mind about things, or simply forgotten things. Better to just go get the right widget than to stress over it. You'll be back before you know it.
5A. You can play the girl card at the hardware store, too. Especially if you look cute in your work clothes. I, of course, always look cute, so this is easy. Men will carry things for you, help you pick things out, or just ask you 800 times if they can help you.
5B. Above rule does not apply if said husband is with you. Sorry.
6. As mentioned in #1, make suggestions, but let him make all the big decisions. He's the Foreman. Trust his decisions. He will be the first to say if they don't work out. Then you can work together to change or fix (or ignore).
7. Compliment his good decisions. This sounds like placation, and maybe it is, but it's important. I am SUPER sad when I don't get complimented on my cooking. Everyone likes a good "atta boy!"
8. Be appreciative. You are working hard, but because of that whole big-strong-man-doing-all-the-hard-work situation, he is undoubtedly working harder than you. Because let's be honest, if it were up to you, you would've hired someone to do while you two sip lemonade.
9. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Have fun. If you get in a snip, get out of it just as fast. Working together is awesome fun and rewarding. Don't ruin it with a quarrel. Laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh, laugh. But don't take it too far. He won't like it when you jokingly spray him with the hose. Trust me.


Molly said...

Yeah, some day I'm going to learn with the hose thing, but apparently it takes a few go's at it... I mean, what if it suddenly GETS funny? No? Ok then.

I totally agree with the leader thing, and I think that's so true in my workplace as well. So often I was the leader in small groups, but now that I'm in graduate school again, I'm reminded: these people ALL were leaders in small groups. Be a helper. It's still nice and you can still show it to your parents and say, "Look what I did!" when you didn't. Not really, anyway.

Our local Ace has been our favorite place to go... it's a chain, but it's also locally owned, and they have always floored me with how helpful they can be. Floored me. And that's not just because there's an Ace in Ryan's family.

Molly said...

PS: Oh yeah and that time stamp? Totally right. I'm so freaking good at the days and nights reversal thing, it seems to be happening even during the freaking school year. What?! Yep, that's right. Going to bed at 3:30. After reading. For a long time. Because that's all I do this semester. Thank goodness--the only other thing I could do in this volume and be happy as a clam would be sleeping. Seriously.

Travas and Heather said...

Love 4 and 5!!!!!!! I still hope you are planning to have your fall Vikings party so we can all oh and ah at your hard work.