Sometimes, people run through walls for love. Sometimes, they climb over walls for love.
Sometimes, they paint a wall for love.
When Husband and I married, we made a decision to begin our maried life in his house. I sold my house a moved into his.
It made sense:
- I had only one child at home and he was almost ready to launch. Another child was away at school and would be for years. He had all his Junior Tribe Members still at home.
- My little family had been of stable size for over a decade. We were long used to being us. We had already moved from our original family home and could roll with moving again. We could handle change.
- His family had lost their mother the year before, and he still had a little one in elementary school.
Husband understood that me moving into his space was not ideal for starting a life together. He was willing to move into a house that was new for both of us. I suggested we begin our married life in his home because the littlest one had enough change and needed what stability we could muster for him when he was already going to be getting used to a bonus parent who came with a bonus family.
Husband was great. He gave open season on the kitchen–“Move in whatever you want, rearrange whatever you want. Make it yours!” he said. It was fun! I had never had a lemon squeezer or an electronic meat thermometer so we kept those. They never had a proper cheese grater, and glasses that were, well, glass. So I moved in mine.
We combined the best of what each of us had, culled a lot of the rest, and started our life together.
Husband and Car built the house together–literally. She designed it and he built it. However, her cancer returned with a vengeance while they were still finishing it.
Their family moved them in while they went south for some desperate last measures to hold off the cancer.
The finishing details on this new house were left long undone. There were no handles on the kitchen cupboards, the mudroom lacked any shelving, the fireplace was clad only in plywood, the basement bathroom was just an empty space and there were only rough two by fours where a bannister should be.
Husband and I finished the house–a lot of it before we moved in, and then more and more as we lived in it.
The house is done now.
The other day Husband pronounced to me, as we were standing in the kitchen: “Well, the house is done, and now parts of it already need re-freshing. This is your house, too–what would you want to do with it?”
And I looked at him, pointed at the wall with scuffs and dings just inside the entrance and said, “Let’s paint this wall black.”
Husband swallowed hard. He looked at me.
I watched him smile as he ordered his face to turn into a grin.
And he said, “OK” with a fierce determination that came only from years of well formed character.
Here’s the thing: Husband likes earth tones. Browns, deep reds, and beiges. Our whole house is earth tones.
I’m a sky tones person. I like blues and greys and whites with a dash of bright colour.
The wall I was pointing too had a metallic rust color painted on it. It’s the only wall in the house with this colour. A feature wall that he loved–he often commented on how much he loved this wall colour–how much it added to the home. Car was fairly particular about how she wanted things–and she let him choose the colour and type of rich metallic paint for this wall.
This was always “Husband’s wall”.
But it was scuffed and marred. It had dings and divots. It needed a refresh.
And it was the epitome of earth tone. If this is my house too, and I’m not an earth tone person, this was the wall to start with.
We painted that beautiful rusty earth tone with a soft black this week.
It was hard for Husband to paint over that wall. I could see it. He loved that colour. When he was offering to redecorate, I think in his mind, he would have preferred any changes but that wall.
I was compassionate and heard him talk about his love of that rust coloured wall. He was sad–it marked the end of an era for him. I heard him, and held compassion for him.
But we both persevered in changing that wall colour to my chosen paint chip.
Husband was right. It is our house.
This goes far beyond changing the decor to something that works more for me. That black wall is the natural progression of “us”. It is making his home become our home at one more level.
I gave up sky tones and colour to move into an earth tone home with Husband and all the Junior Tribe Members. I did it willingly, and I’d do it all over again, just like we did it. It was the right decision, and I don’t regret it.
But as the JTM’s grow up and leave the home, and as time passes, we continue to craft our lives together. We take the next right step towards growing our lives together as a couple.
When he freely offered to make a change in our home to help make it more ours, I freely accepted it.
I think I offered once to stop the project when I could see how hard it was. I said we could repaint with the same shade.
But he didn’t accept my offer.
And, truth be told, I didn’t repeat my offer. That was deliberate on my part. If he was willing to do this for me, I had to be willing to accept his invitation to put my fingerprints on this house–our house.
Because, sometimes in life, accepting something from someone else even though it is hard for them is the right thing to do.
It was hard for him–and was difficult for me–to accept a costly gift. He lost his favourite wall.
But it was the right thing for us.
It reminds both of us that this marriage is a coming together–and sometimes, when one has given deeply in one way, the other gives deeply in another way. Those swings of giving need to go both ways–not to make a relationship transactional, but to make it, well–relational.
I’m not always very good at receiving, but my clients have taught me that when one partner gives more then the other, and is unwilling to receive, that might be nice, but it isn’t kind. It doesn’t authentically build up the relationship where both are weaving strength into the bond of who we are together..
When most people look at the freshly painted wall, they might see black paint.
I see love.
I see our love growing together!