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Mr. FAF and I argue pretty much every time something needs to be repaired at our house.
It’s hard to pinpoint the one reason that that’s the case.
When Mr. FAF and I lived in different cities, I handled all of our hour repairs.
After Mr. FAF moved DC, I still handle most of the repairs in our house.
If something breaks, I will check for a solution on YouTube and troubleshoot it myself.
If it doesn’t work, I will look online to see if other people have had the same problem (i.e. Google).
My last resort is to call a technician because the mere act of them showing up at our front door costs us $100 whether something is fixed or not.
Below are the emotional and thought process I go through each some a repair is warranted:
1. Freak out
I flip out thinking about the worst possible outcome resulting from the problem and how much money we will need to fix it.
When a plank on our staircase was falling off, I thought about how someone would trip over it, get hurt, and sue us.
When the faucet in the kitchen was broken and flooded the whole kitchen floor, I thought about me not being able to cook for days.
In other words, I freak out.
From freaking out, I get extremely frustrated if I don’t know what causes the problem or how I can fix it myself.
I had always been a renter before buying our current home.
Every time something broke, all I had to do was call the maintenance guy or the landlord, and whatever broke would be fixed at no charge to me.
That’s not the case anymore. I am the owner of my home now. I will need to fix the problem myself or spend money for someone else to fix it.
I am not a handyman in any way. House repairs seem like a totally different world to me. It’s like a black box I want to crack open but can’t most of the time.
If I want to see a small part of it, I will need to either spend hours trying to find a way or pay a pretty sum to get help. I get frustrated at the unknown.
This is the feeling I’m most conflicted about. I would like to think that I’m an independent woman who can handle things on my own (most of the time). However, part of me felt that Mr. FAF should also help out with such repairs.
When he wasn’t in DC, part of me hated the fact that I had to fix things by myself. I calmed myself down thinking that he would help out when he moved to DC. But no.
Even after Mr. FAF moved into our home, he still expects me to handle the repairs. If a toilet is clogged, he will plunge for 2 minutes although I had been plunging nonstop for 20 minutes despite being pregnant.
He would then give up and tell me to call a plumber and expect me to take time off work to sit at home waiting for the plumber to come. That drives me crazy.
I don’t expect him to fix everything. But at least both of us should try to fix the problem ourselves so that we could save money and neither of us would have to take time off work to wait for someone the whole morning or afternoon.
The last straw
He broke the last straw expecting exactly that from me after I had already spent hours trying to get help fixing the water leak in our basement and calling the company for hours to get a $1,000 refund for their misdiagnosis.
I just lost it and lashed out at him.
We entered into a 3-day cold war which only ended with a big argument over who should do what around the house. The argument went something like this:
Him: I have only 15 days off a year, and you have 30 days off. You always brag about that, so why can’t you just take sometime off to take care of the repair?
Me: I have to save it for after I give birth. You can go back to work right away, but I will need months to recover. What if our kids get sick? You will expect me to stay at home.
I already take our son to doctor appointments and take care of him from the moment he wakes up to when he goes to bed.
Him: We are a team. I don’t know why you always feel like it’s unfair around here.
Me: It’s because I have to take on more responsibilities than you. Of course, you will feel like everything is fair.
Him: I took the car for maintenance, cut down the tree in the backyard and put the curtains back on after they fell. Did I ask you to do that for me?
Me: No, but all of that work never happened before we had a fight yesterday.
Mr. FAF was referring to the work he suddenly took on that weekend. I think he was trying to show me that he did indeed do a lot of work around the house.
But that weekend was unusual. The amount of household work he did those two days are three or four times as much as what he usually does.
In the end, I acknowledged his effort and thanked him for doing all the work. I could see the pride on his face. We made up.
Was marriage a mistake?
During those three days when we were in a cold war, I felt extremely frustrated and hopeless about our marriage. I thought about getting a divorce.
I was just so stressed out and resented the fact that my husband couldn’t understand how I felt and went on to defend himself. If this is how things are going to turn out for the rest of our marriage, I wouldn’t want any part of it.
And at some moments, I regretted getting married. I wished I were still a single woman without so many worries about the house, repairs, babies, maternity leave, money, daycare and such.
Did I make a mistake not just marrying Mr. FAF but just getting married in general? There was a time in my life when I did not want to tie the knot with anyone.
Seeing how my parents fought growing up just reinforced my belief that marriage is just a sham. And now I find myself being caught in that trap.
Related: The Costs Of Marital Conflict
Later on, I established two new rules around the house that both of us need to follow. I was sick and tired of being stressed out about house repairs and arguing with him at the same time.
We need a system so that next time when something goes wrong, each of us will know what we need to do instead of expecting the other to do it.
1. When something goes wrong whether it’s the house repair or anything else in our lives, no one will blame the other. Instead, we will try to find a solution together.
2. If something needs to be repaired, both of us (instead of just myself) will try to see if we can do the job ourselves first before calling a professional.
We will see how well these two rules apply next time something happens. Sticking to the rules is crucial to maintaining a healthy marriage. It will:
— prevent us from playing the blame game which only exacerbates the situation;
— encourage us to work together as a team instead of attacking each other; and
— set the expectation that BOTH of us will need to find a solution ourselves first before spending money and time on a technician.
Over the past 3 months, Mr. FAF has been taking on a more active role in taking care of upgrades, maintenance, and repairs around the house. His efforts have saved us hundreds of dollars:
— Replacing the shower head in the master bedroom ($100)
— Fixing the disposal in the kitchen ($100). This one was a total shock to me. I was mentally prepared for him to tell me he couldn’t fix it and ask me to call a plumber.
— Changing all the old outlets in the house ($400)
— Fixing a dish soap holder that fell off the wall in the bathtub ($100)
Total saved so far: $700
His next project is replacing the toilet in the master bedroom that must have been there since the house was built in 1975.
The handle recently broke, and the whole thing hasn’t been functioning properly for the past 2.5 years. If we hired a contractor, it could easily be $150. He also plans to replace the other toilet on the 2nd floor the next time it breaks as well.
Mr. FAF has taken me by surprise over the past few months with his handyman skills. I don’t want to be sexist, but I have seem him more of a responsible man, husband, and father since he took on those projects without me even asking him.
Maybe that big fight worked. Or maybe it’s just a wake-up call for both of us that we need to listen to each other and work out our issues before it’s too late.
Life is full of surprises and is not meant to provide us with a sense of constant stability and security. I’m glad I’m starting to realize and accept that fact in order for us to deal with emergencies and unpleasant incidents in our lives.
How stressful it would be to think that every time something goes wrong, our spouse will blame us for it instead of working together with us to solve the problem. I don’t want to be on either end.
House repairs can be stressful, but they are not responsible for breakups and divorces. They are only triggers to the bigger underlying problems in a marriage.
I’m starting to see what our problems are so that we can work towards fixing them together: lack of communication, passive aggressive behavior, and the blame game.
A couple’s issues manifest themselves best under stress and pressure. House repairs are just one of the many problems we have to face.
If we can’t learn to handle them peacefully and cooperatively as a couple, we will have a harder time facing bigger challenges in our lives.
House repairs are bad for marriage, especially ours. But we need to fix them and the conflict in our relationship for the marriage to last.
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