Here are several suggestions to help minimize the stress and add value to your marriage while you're working on your home.
•“Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page.” Don't start until you agree on the basic design and as many details as possible, including color of paint, style of light fixtures and type of floor covering.
As Bernick notes, “If you can't decide on things up front when it's calm,” it'll be a disaster when the pressure's on.
•Set a realistic budget, and try to include the inevitable hidden costs: a cable you have to purchase separately or a tool you'll need, but don't own. Research the cost of your project thoroughly to minimize your budgeting errors. Even then, allow a 10 percent fudge factor for things you've forgotten.
Money issues are a primary cause of marital conflict. Agreeing on your budget before you start is essential. Plan to spend only what you can realistically afford. If you must borrow, make sure you can afford the loan payments.
Agree to stop your project if you run out of money. Wait to finish until you have more money set aside. Keeping your finances under control and avoiding money arguments are more important than finishing the project quickly.
•Expect your project to take at least three times longer than you plan. Problems always develop, and unexpected obstacles always arise. Understanding the time commitment makes it easier to plan around the problems.
•Women, far more than men, typically see the home as an extension of their personalities and where they nurture and nest. Unless it's the husband's work room or den, it's often best to let the wife decide wall colors and design details, with the husband having a veto power if he really doesn't like it.
•Don't let the project consume your marriage. Staying up late to “get 'er done” is fine on rare occasions. If it becomes a regular habit, however, your marriage will suffer. Allow time for your kids, and don't stop spending time with your spouse.
•There may be parts of the project you can't do together. If you and your spouse always fight when you try to hang wallpaper together, plan to paint the walls or have someone else help with the wallpaper.
•When people get tired and hungry, they can become irritable. Don't work beyond your limits. If one of you has more stamina than the other, don't get upset if your spouse has to take more rests than you do.
•Only have one project going at a time. Home improvements can be challenging. Trying to do more than you can manage can make your marriage unmanageable. When one project is done, wait a few weeks before starting another one.
Home improvement projects can improve your living environment. By carefully planning the project details, realistically assessing cost and time commitments, respecting each other's opinions, and keeping your sense of humor, your marriage will survive quite well to enjoy the improvement.
©2013, All Rights Reserved. James Sheridan’s website is www.marriagedoneright.com. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel.