Home improvement projects in American households have surged since the COVID-19 pandemic first began last winter, which makes perfect sense. People are spending much more time at home, which has caused them to recognize imperfections in their living space. Further, they’ve been afforded the free time to actually tackle the projects. Of course, all of these new undertakings, while exciting, can actually lead to a bit of strife within a marriage.
“It’s often a test of control. One side of a relationship is likely to drive the project forward, and this can lead to a feeling of helplessness on the other side,” says Lee Chambers, a psychologist and wellbeing consultant. “Sometimes the partner who wants to be in control can look to slow the project down, doing it ‘in their own time’, once again causing resentment in the partner that wants to proceed.”
A recent survey by My Job Quote found that marital fall-outs amidst home improvement projects are actually quite common and come sometimes result in a snowball effect that ultimately ends in divorce. Here are five of the most common ways that home renovations result in marital strife:
Going over budget
According to the survey, 81 percent of participants reported arguing over budget. There are also financial statistics that support this data. A recent Bankrate survey found that nearly half of millennial homeowners have gone into debt to fund their home improvement projects. Methods for doing so included using a credit card, store financing, taking out personal loans, or even using equity from their home mortgages. Of course, the best way to avoid a dispute of this nature is to exclusively use cash to fund home improvement projects and to only hire contractors to complete projects that you have enough cash to cover.
The second most common reason for fights was procrastination. Almost no one wants to see their homes unfinished due to an abandoned project. Unfortunately, this is often a risk that is taken when couples choose to embark upon a do-it-yourself project without fully realizing exactly how much work a project will entail. Sadly, couples often don’t make this revelation until it’s too late. To avoid this issue, it can be helpful to thoroughly research what the project will entail and how long it generally takes amateurs to complete.
The third and most common issue was varying tastes. “Decoration is the acid test for taste. Everyone has their own design, cultivated by their childhood, culture, and experiences, and a renovation will likely require synergy and some compromise in the finished article,” said Chambers. “All of a sudden, there are hundreds of choices to make together, and the wider your tastes, the more disagreement you can encounter as your partner exclaims they are not having that hideous rug anywhere in the property.”
While there’s no way to avoid your taste being different from your spouse’s, the best way to overcome this issue is compromise and respect.
Sometimes, a project can end up taking much longer than anyone anticipated, which can be extremely frustrating for couples. Nearly 45 percent of participants noted that lengthy projects resulted in arguing within their marriages. To combat this issue, couples should only take on one project at a time and break larger projects into smaller subprojects.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Emergencies and other unexpected life events can bring renovations to a complete standstill. During these times, it’s best to pause, take a deep breath, and deal with the issue at hand. While it would certainly be ideal for projects to be completed within an anticipated timeframe, minor delays are not the end of the world.