Many Canadians have turned to home renovations after a year of working, studying, exercising and almost everything else to find space, literally and metaphorically. As spring and summer, the most popular times of the year for home improvement, it’s important for couples to establish ground rules before breaking new ground.
While more living space, a dedicated home office, or a modernized kitchen could lessen the burden on homes and families from the pandemic, the renovation process, which tests relationships at the best of times, already weighing more heavily on the past under the weight of cracking partnerships Year.
Contractors and architects say they are making up to five times as many calls a day as they were before the pandemic due to the recent surge in home renovations. According to a recent Abacus Data survey, 44 percent of Canadian households have or are planning to renovate this year. Most say they do the job so that they can feel more relaxed in their homes.
At the same time, phones are ringing in couples’ counseling and family offices as more and more people seek professional help to maintain or dissolve their relationships.
“Couples face a variety of stresses – childcare, housekeeping, personal challenges, relationship stresses – and the temperature has risen during the pandemic,” says New York therapist Matt Lundquist. He believes that while the stress of the pandemic may not be the cause of marital problems, it does reveal existing cracks.
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Renovations can widen relationship rifts as couples face financial stress, prolonged disruptions, and thousands of decisions – from what they can afford to lower a basement to, to choosing pull-outs for new kitchen cabinets.
The process can exacerbate conflicting approaches to decision-making, unhealthy communication habits, and latent tensions in relationships.
These encumbrances will appear on Reddit’s r / Relationship_Advice, where desperate users seek advice on resolving renovation disputes with their partners.
From “I’m an INTP, he’s an ENTJ, we’re renovating and fighting so hard that I’m afraid our relationship will never recover” to “Renovating is taking much longer than expected, BF takes it personally when I try the Accelerate process. ” We are at a breaking point ”and“ Renovation frustration with me (29f) and him (31m) – is that understandable or abuse? “
Gloria Apostolu, Principal Architect at Post Architecture in Toronto, pauses briefly when asked how couples deal with the demands of making so many decisions during a renovation. “Every customer has their Achilles heel,” she says. “And it’s never where or what I expected.”
Various break points
Some Apostolu customers cannot understand tiles. Others shy away from the price of a front door or are overwhelmed by having to decide on a faucet for the downstairs powder room before the contractor even arrives to tear the room apart.
According to Lundquist, making high-stakes decisions as a couple requires advanced skills; B. weighing up advantages and disadvantages, measuring the acceptable risk and making decisions under pressure or pressing the trigger in the language of the contractor. It also requires what he calls relationality – listening and curiosity, variety, empathy, and working to understand your partner’s point of view, even if you don’t see or disagree with their logic.
“Not reacting when our partner says something that we disagree with or that is not what we expected,” says Lundquist, puts a huge strain on our ability to react. What really nourishes a relationship, he adds, is to try to be curious about where your partner is coming from and to resist the temptation to close them or make a counter-argument before they fully understand their point of view.
On the other hand, he often encounters partners who are not sure enough about what they want while trying to keep the peace, which can lead to persistent dissatisfaction and resentment.
The last thing a relationship needs, Lundquist jokes, is one big, expensive, solid resentment that a couple has to stare at when sitting next to each other on the couch every night.
Honesty and a smooth renovation
Apostolou underlines the need for openness as the basis for a smooth renovation.
She suggests starting out with a system for resolving the inevitable conflicts that will arise. This can mean taking turns or giving a veto to the person most committed to that part of the house. For example, the person who does most of the cooking has the final say on kitchen details.
She advises that the most important thing is to work everything out in drawings before you start. “Don’t rush into the design process. You don’t want to make decisions that are more expensive than if they were planned in advance. ”
Apostolu’s no-surprise approach has earned impressive five-star ratings from customers on the Houzz Home Design and Improvement website.
One of them comes from Stephanie Nickson, a financial services advisor, and her partner David Raniga, who now runs his massage therapy practice in the light-filled basement of their recently renovated Wychwood home in Toronto.
Raniga jokes that the hardest part of the process was dealing with his wife’s inability to make decisions. But because they stayed open to each other’s needs throughout the process and stuck to the vision and budget they set at the beginning, they say that once it is over, they will actually miss the process. And they are almost dizzy with the result.
“I literally say I love this house every day. We were so lucky, ”says Nickson.