Doing “projects” with your partner/spouse can be a hazardous undertaking fraught with emotion. I remember my very first major project with Hubby, before were seriously considered a permanent relationship. I suppose it was one way to find out how compatible we were and whether we could work together as a team.

The project seemed simple enough.  Hubby’s house came with bilious green carpets that were so 60ish. We discovered the most gorgeous oak floors beneath the ugly carpet. To uncover this  treasure, we had to remove the olive green shag, which seemed easy enough to roll up and take away. However, the challenge was the black underlay, which had melded to the hardwood floor over the many decades with the previous homeowner. Through sheer determination, sweat and desperate scraping with various tools, the oak floors were slowly uncovered, inch by laborious inch. During the days, we worked at our respective jobs and in the evenings, scraped our way across the living room/dining room. We both had strong ideas at how best to tackle the project and who was really the Boss. Later, looking at the fruits of our hard labour erased all the angry, frustrated words we had hurled at each other over the past two weeks.  The beautifully preserved oak floors were worth every moment. Best of all, we had survived our first major project.

Our second project involved planting small cedar trees along the perimeter of the house separating the neighbour’s yard from ours. Coming  home one evening, we discovered that the fenceless property was an invitation for the thoughtless people to do “wheelies” with their cars, leaving deep, ugly tire tracks on our immaculate lawn. Hubby and I were still in the euphoric stage of our honeymoon when we returned home and decided to do the tree-planting to commemorate our permanent relationship. It had been a few years since the carpet/hardwood project and we felt we knew each other’s quirks and foibles to work together planting 10 small cedar trees.  After all, we were now a permanent “team.”

As any long-time couple will tell you–-nothing is ever simple and most spousal projects never run smoothly. This fact is engraved in fine print in the marriage manual.

First of all, the day was hot and we had started in the afternoon when the sun was hottest. The ground was extremely dry and hard, filled with rocks ranging in size from good-sized boulders to small pebbles. All we had was a shovel. It took us over an hour to dig a hole, deep enough and wide enough to plant one small 3-feet high cedar tree. By night-fall, we had planted 4 trees with 6 more to go. We were hot, hungry and tire—our honeymoon euphoria had disappeared and any optimistic thoughts of a cedar shrub separating the two properties had gone the way of the do-do bird!  Somehow, we did survive our second major project. Later we moved away for a few years, eventually returning to the neighbourhood. Hubby and I strolled down our old street and were amazed at the 10-feet high wall of cedar trees, densely packed together to form a solid fence of privacy—our 3-feet trees had grown together and spread upwards. Like our spousal project, the trees had survived.

Pundits have always claimed “opposites attract”, but it wasn’t our differences that attracted us when we were learning about each other–it was initially our similarities. Yet I always marvel that we survived—6 years of friendship/courtship and marking our 21st  anniversary this year— because we accepted the fact that we are very different in our thinking. In spite of this, we have learned to focus on each other’s strengths when doing a joint project. It’s not been easy for we are still learning and adjusting and perhaps, that’s what marriage and growth is all about. . .


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