There is a baffling exchange that goes on in a marriage when it’s time to do some decorating. Not only has this happened to me, but it has happened to most (actually, all) married people I have known.
Somehow, a red-blooded American husband, who is into sports or meat or tv or whatever, who doesn’t like to sew, cook, decorate, or shop, decides he is insanely interested in the decorating decisions made for his home. And by interested, I mean he knows exactly what he does and doesn’t like. And by home, I mean the place he returns to after work, where he picks up a bag of pork rinds and parks himself on the recliner-sofa watching tv, while he waits for dinner.
I know you know what I’m talking about. It’s like this: you buy a throw pillow or a picture for the wall or a bench so you don’t have to sit on the floor to put on your shoes. You say you want to make it cozy and homey and updated and pretty. You say you wanted it to be inspiring and hospitable, and even have a little place to put all those shoes that get dropped by the front door.
You put the pillow on the couch and hang up the art. You put the little shoe basket under the bench and teach the kids where to put their shoes. You sit down for the first time in 16 hours.
He says, …(drumroll please)…”I don’t like that.”
“You don’t like what?” you ask, knowing for a fact that he didn’t notice the pillow or realize that the art was different.
“I don’t like that there”, he says, not knowing you spent the whole afternoon getting it just right.
Here’s what’s going on.
- Your husband has noticed something is wrong with his home. And by wrong, that means something is different.
- The thing that’s wrong also means he thinks you spent all of his money.
- In addition, he has instantly developed an inexplicable interest in home decor.
I’m going to try and help here. This is proven to work.
Let’s assume you’d like to stay married to this guy and that you’d like to have peace in your life. Let’s also assume you’d like the final decorating calls to be yours, as you knew what his bachelor pad looked like and it wasn’t something most people aspire to.
Here’s what you do.
Let’s assume you want to move the furniture around. If he’s not home and you can do it yourself, just do it. If you can’t do it, wait for him to get home and have dinner, and then tell him you want to move some things around and ask if he could help you with the heavy stuff. If you meet resistance here, ask him if there’s anything you can do for him, and he’ll probably agree to move the furniture right away.
So say you’ve moved the furniture around and you’re excited about your new look. He takes a look at it and says, “I don’t like it.”
Do you tell him to go to h***? No! Don’t (even if he deserves it). There’s a much more effective solution. Say this:
“Oh, you don’t like it here? I’m sorry; I thought you would! Can you move it how you would like it? I really want you to be happy with the furniture arrangement in our living room and I’d love to see how you would do it.”
Then here’s what happens. He either realizes that he really has no interest in moving around the furniture in the living room and decides to “like” what you did just fine. Or, he moves it around and sees that lining the walls with furniture and having a huge empty space in the middle really isn’t as home-y as he was thinking. Then he has to move it back and realizes that maybe there was something to your way, as well as a lot to be said about not having to move the furniture again.
Or, maybe you discover that your husband is actually a kickass designer* and you should arrange things exactly how he says.
*This has yet to happen to anyone
You bring home an awesome pillow from HomeGoods that you got for $14.99 and it was normally, like, $75. It has a down insert and you saw it in a magazine for ten times what you paid. You are proud of it and excited to try it out on your couch, which you are hoping will make your old couch look new.
Hubby sees it, and says, “I don’t like it.”
Rather than telling him off and causing a huge fight, try this. You say:
“Oh, really? What don’t you like about it? Let’s get some you like instead. Tomorrow after work, let’s have a quick dinner and go up to HomeGoods! They have thousands of pillows to choose from and I know you could find something you like!”
This is when he remembers he went to HomeGoods once and vowed to never step in there again. He says, “Oh, that’s ok! I was actually planning on doing something I like tomorrow. This pillow is actually lovely.”
Or, this happens.
You take him to HomeGoods and he sees that the options are so overwhelming he wishes he were never born, and also sees that most of them are more expensive than the screamin’ deal you brought home. He decides never again to criticize your pillow choices.
Repeat if necessary. Soon you will enjoy a peaceful marriage and conflict over design decisions will be a thing of the past.
If you have run into other decor-related or design issues in your marriage, comment and I will address them in a future blog post.