Before beginning a major home remodeling project, there are many things every homeowner must consider: the budget, a realistic timeline, dueling design aesthetics, your ability to do the work yourself vs. hiring professionals, the mess and dust in your home, packing away items for months, planning for water and electric shutoffs, protecting kids and pets, and the disruption to your family routine. The one item most people do not consider — and the one that has the potential to do the most damage — is the impact that home renovation can have on a couple’s relationship.
While it looks easy on television, home renovation is among the most stressful projects a couple can undertake. Over time, the project can expose or even cause serious relationship issues. You should be aware that most couples who renovate a home together do not agree on every last detail. Whether their relationship survives or falls victim to the wrecking ball has far more to do with the way they communicate than the colors they choose for their new space.
Communication is the key to working together. The accompanying infographic offers 10 tips to help couples navigate a major project. Based on the principles of successful communication, these suggestions are intended to help couples get through the work with their relationship intact. These tips should be read, memorized and internalized before, during and even after the project is completed. Don’t let your desire to build the perfect home demolish your relationship!
Will a home renovation project leave your marriage in need of repair? Read the following tips before you start — and review them often as you proceed!
- Understand the task. Prepare a plan that includes estimated costs, labor and time required. Accept that renovation is stressful.
- Establish and stick to the budget. Exceeding the budget is a major source of tension. Never go over the budget unilaterally.
- Dial down the pressure. Every detail does not have to be flawless. Don’t build the perfect home only to lose your relationship.
- Prepare to compromise. Getting along is more important than getting your way. Make a serious effort to see your partner’s side.
- Compliment your partner. Find something good to say about your spouse’s work, design aesthetic or organizational abilities.
- Don’t take it personally. Don’t overreact to comments made under duress; they may not reflect what the other person really believes.
- Control your emotions. Try to keep negative feelings, especially anger, in check. Walk away from the situation until you calm down.
- Stand up for your partner. Never, ever criticize your spouse in front of a third party (the contractor, designer or architect).
- Don’t neglect your family life. Be sure to stop working and take time for family, meals, chores and even quiet time.
- Call in the professionals. If all else fails and your relationship starts to suffer, let the experts finish your project.
46% of couples building a new living space say the overall experience is frustrating. According to a Houzz survey, 12% of these couples consider separation or divorce mid-project.
Author: B. Anne Hancock, PsyD, is a prominent relationship therapist and founder of Wellness Counseling Center. A licensed Marriage and Family Therapist , Hancock specializes in working with couples and families. She has a doctorate in Psychology and a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Hancock always works from a wellness-oriented, non-pathologizing point of view — which means no blame, no shame. In addition to couples counseling services, Hancock also conducts personalized two-and-a-half-day couples intensives.