DIY Without Divorce

Don't let a DIY home renovation demolish your marriage.

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Tip 1: Get the Family Involved

DIY Without Divorce

"My wife decides all the details about how something should look, and I retain veto power if I DISLIKE anything."
- David Hawkins

"Get the whole family involved. A remodel that doesn't meet everyone's needs will lead to more arguments and more stress as soon as the last nail is driven."
- Paul Bianchini

"My wife likes to say, 'We work best together in separate rooms.' "
- Ed Stawicki

"I let her make all of the design decisions and I do all of the work, which is the part I enjoy!"
- Dave Pike

Tip 2: Pick Your Battles

“Pick your battles. If it really doesn’t matter to you if the room is blue or yellow, let it go.”
- Nancy Hayes

The 3 most important words in a marriage: you’re right, dear!”
- Larry L. Meacham

“I do everything but paint. I’m not allowed to do any of that at all, and for 27 years that has worked fairly well.”
- Michael Gilfilian

Tip 3: Timing is Everything

DIY Without Divorce

“I tell my wife how long a project will take—and she knows it will take three times longer.”
- Dave Switzer

“I tell my wife, ‘Let me finish one project and enjoy it for at least a week before you add another to my list.’ ”
- Brian Feltz

Tip 4: Happy Family Means Happy Renovation

“During big projects, I turn off the saw one or two days of the week to reacquaint myself with the family. It may take a few days longer to finish, but I won’t have to sleep on the couch.”
- Brian Barger

“During a recent project, I spent the early evening with my family, tucked my girls into bed, and worked from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. I lost some sleep, but this kept the family happy.”
- Ben Kim


“My wife doesn’t work with tools every day, so she doesn’t know one saw from another. You have to be ready to explain things a lot.”
- Mark t. Platte

“If mama isn’t happy, nobody is happy”
- Charlie Marken

Tip 5: Take Advice From a Wise Contractor

DIY Without Divorce

Be sure you and your spouse are on the same page. Don’t even start the remodel if you’re not. Trust me—if you can’t decide on things up front when it’s calm, you certainly won’t be able to when the clock’s ticking, the workers are standing around, and the pressure’s really on!

Know your budget. A fight over the remodeling budget was the biggest argument I ever saw, and there’s no way for the contractor to fix it.

Make three lists: Must Have, Would Like If Possible, and Optional. Keep as much of List 1 as you can, because that’s why you’re remodeling. Keep 10 to 25 percent of List 2, depending on budget. Toss all of List 3.
- Paul Bianchini

Tip 6: Don’t forget to laugh

“We decided to strip and refinish our kitchen cabinets during a heat wave with 90-plus degree temperatures and 90 percent humidity in a house with no air conditioning. As the sweat was pouring down, and the fumes were burning our eyes and skin, I looked over at my wife and said, ‘This is more fun than sex!’ We both laughed and got back to work.”
- Ed Stawicki
Ed and his wife, Ginger, just celebrated their 30th anniversary.

“What doesn’t cause you to divorce doing Diy projects, just gives you great stories to laugh about for years after.”
- Jordan Van Moorleghem

Caution: Remodeling can be hazardous to your marriage

DIY Without Divorce
  1. One divorce lawyer says he’s seen more divorces over remodeling projects than from extramarital affairs.
  2. On a scale of 1 to 10, family therapists rate remodeling projects at about a 6 in terms of stress on a relationship.
  3. Paint color is one of the greatest sources of DIY disagreements for couples.

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