Marital lessons from a kitchen facelift

kitchen facelift in progress

but a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife…

1 Corinthians 7:33 (NIV)

great marriages take time

A mentor of mine, married fifty years, once quipped, the “first 30 years of marriage are the hardest”. In America, I do not know many healthy marriages, “newlywed”-like, lasting for decades. Most happy partnerships often have a common spiritual center. But all good marriages are reinforced through compromise, tears, and forgiveness for one another. One sign of good communication is the ability to voice ‘corrective’ feedback, which is not often a strength of either partner – issuing or on the receiving end. Sometimes, this results in a decision ” to just not bring up anything difficult”.

I believe somebody said that women marry the man they hope to change into the man of their dreams, while men marry women hoping they will remain the fantasy they married. Neither is true. A man who is a phenomenal provider, doting, financially-responsible husband, patient father and coach, and talented craftsman (in home or car maintenance), and good listener – does not exist. A woman who is a culinary marvel, organized, doting mother, lover, inspirational teacher, company executive, nurse, resourceful shopper and home-maker, is also not reality. Both possess some of those qualities – and not necessarily exclusive to gender. Many males are better cooks than their spouses. Many females can tear down an engine or install brakes better than male counterparts. One is sometimes better at managing finances than the other. And hopefully, each partner desires, and feels encouraged by their spouses, to improve in others to make marriage more rewarding, financially-secure, and committed. But there are qualities that we, justifiably, may never excel despite continued practice. One of mine, is in the area of home maintenance and design.

labor and management relations

I am not devoid of ability, for in the course of four decades, I worked five years in construction trades; I assembled, repaired and constructed mechanical, electrical, and electronic systems, maintained and infrequently rebuilt complete engines and other automotive systems. For a quarter-century in the Navy, I gained skills, first learning to work to exacting standards, and then leading others to do the same. However, I am not an expert, in the sense that 3 of my best friends are experts in particular construction-or car-related trades. My approach is also not the same as it was thirty years ago. That is to say, when observed by a spouse who performs certain tasks differently, in her exacting, or obsessive-compulsive manner, it takes a certain amount of practice, to keep her inner voice inner.

During my semi-retirement, in which I am a partner in a service -business with my spouse, I no longer am separated from her for nearly sixty or more hours per week every week. If nineteen years of generally absence making the heart grow fonder – we now work together 5 to 6 hours a day, from three to six days a week. However, my spouse still has other requirements in a job she is committed to managing for several more months. I have time now and opportunity to perform some household chores, cooking, tending our yard, and lately, apply a “facelift” to our sixty-year old kitchen. The most recent example is my “simple” task of painting wooden cabinets, which we decided to retain instead of replace at significant cost, and choose a pattern for counters and backsplash. And then to apply new paint throughout the house. “Look for a gray that resembles the images in these Pinterest shots”. While there are a thousand shades of gray, our home is generally not brightly lit so the shade should matter least. Then I saw a deep blue that is the “2020 Color of the Year”. Now the kitchen cabinet frames are all Sherwin-Williams Naval. But the contrasting color scheme of cabinets in my wife’s best friend’s kitchen inspired “finding a contrasting color in that same “Naval” family of colors.

long lasting marriages – and kitchens are built

No easy task given these parameters. First, you begin with an ironclad spiritual core. It was the shocked and dismayed response of my spouse, to the visual impact of the (what I assumed she recognized as) work-in-progress, that brought about an opportunity for harmony – later. People have different ways of performing tasks, and for a spouse who has been managing a large corporate group for almost two decades, my divergence from her manner of accomplishment stimulated some healthy marital discourse. I started to protest. Having the paint (sanding the doors, using a degreaser, cleaning, applying a bonding primer, more sanding, and then applying the color) appear uniform and dry without marring- during the one week the climate is cold and wet, took longer than anticipated.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:6 (NIV)

I am continuing to work on the cabinets, but I placed a call to several of my “experts”, and have contracted to get the balance of the work complete. The moral of all this, is that husbands and wives, can thrive and enjoy a long marriage, but it takes both parties interested to do so. We get advice on how to be better listeners, respond better to situations, be organized without being compulsive, and to accept each of us operate uniquely, but with the same end in mind. We continue to love one another and have compassion on one another. And rely on our spiritual unity to cover over a multitude of mistakes.