A Shop Vac hums at the opposite end of the room from where I pretend to work on my laptop. For reasons that depend on which half of the married couple you ask, the white noise is oddly soothing. Perhaps it’s comforting because it effectively discourages words from being spoken or, maybe because it fills the void of those which have been reluctantly left unsaid. I steal looks at my husband out of the corner of my eye as he sands the walls with a device hooked up to the vacuum. It takes everything I’ve got to…resist…offering…my…advice.
We have been planning, prepping, painting, and discussing the approach to each, as we re-decorate our family room. The “best” method is clearly a matter of opinion, and also subjective is the amount of time spent analyzing each process; I think it needs more, he thinks it needs less.
Together, without a hint of disagreement, we easily chose the colour of paint. Our over-sized family room that is open to the kitchen required a bit of extra consideration, and we quickly agreed on the best way to manage the colour change. Apparently, that was the easy part.
And really, how difficult can the rest be?
Painting has long been considered my husband’s domain. And, since he does an excellent job, I have nothing but praise for his finished work.
As “consulting” has long been considered my domain, and I am a competent painter, I figured, surely he would want my help in order to limit the amount of upheaval – disruption, not disagreement – in the house. Wouldn’t he?
Me: Why don’t we both paint this time?
Him: Actually, I’m fine. No. Thank you.
Me: But if we do it together, it’ll get done faster. Besides, it will be fun.
Him: Hmm, no that’s OK. Thanks, though.
Me: Oh, c’mon, it’ll be fun.
Him: (arms outstretched, hands on my shoulders, looks me straight in eye and speaks calmly and deliberately) Listen. You know and I know that painting together is not going to be fun. If you could paint and only paint, that would be fun. But you can’t, because you’ll change the plan. It’s what you do. Just let me do the job according to my own plan and we’ll all be happier in the long run.
Me: (obliviously and innocently undeterred) But, I won’t change the plan. I might offer some thoughts and ideas, but that’s OK, right? C’mon, it’ll be fun.
The look on his face could not have screamed any more clearly that he didn’t think it would be any fun at all.
But he couldn’t argue with the logic that two of us would speed things up, and as he began to outline his plan, I quickly remembered what I have always known: we have a very different definition of what a plan involves and his…was sorely lacking.
He smirks and nods as my mouth opens and out spills variations of, “But…” and “what about…” and “Don’t you think it might be better if we…”
As is typical in times like these, he marvels at how I have somehow acquired theoretical and practical expertise in many unlikely areas of home improvement. For this, I offer no apologies or excuses. Only suggestions. And, well, maybe a couple of alternatives.
As our current project progresses, together, we stand back and objectively examine (I examine, he looks at) the walls, and each day we see more of the new colour…and as that colour emerges, we are gradually recognizing the reality of the unfortunate repercussions of yet another matter we agree on:
We’re not sure we like the colour.
originally appeared in the Waterloo Region Record