Is Your Marriage A Fixer Upper?


I love to watch home remodeling shows. I think it stems, in part, from when I was a teenager and my parents bought a house that they completely remodeled top to bottom. I spent many of my adolescent years changing bedrooms, living in dust, and waking to the sound of a saw on Saturday mornings. In the end, we had a beautiful home that perfectly met the needs of our family. I can still drive by that house and see the work that went into it to make it what it is today.

Marriage counseling is a lot like remodeling a house

You have the basic bones to work with, hopefully a good foundation, but sometimes not. Sometimes there is cracking and settling, some lifting and heaving. You have a basic footprint, but sometimes it needs to be expanded and changed, added onto or moved around.

So you come in and we get started. We take a look at what we have, what we can see, and build a plan based on that. We create a “blueprint” of what counseling will look like, with all of the details and techniques and interventions we will use along the way. And then we get started tearing down the walls.


Click here to get your copy of “5 Questions to Start Communicating Again”

This is the messy part

This is the painful part. This is the part when you never know what you’re going to find. Anytime you start digging around, you are going to unearth surprises. Sometimes there’s damage that occurred over time from a slow leak that dripped repeatedly, until the wood rotted away and there’s nothing left to support the floor. Sometimes there are wires that were run incorrectly and, while they work in the short-term, they are in danger of sparking a fire that could destroy the entire home. Sometimes there is no insulation, nothing to protect the home and keep all the energy you put into it from filtering out and away into nothing.

Marriages, too, have surprises in the walls. Damage that occurred over time from repeated instances of neglect, shutting down, or unresponsiveness. A “fire” just waiting to happen because of failure to communicate. No protection to keep the relationship warm and safe, and no matter how hard you try to make things better, nothing seems to be working.

But then, you take a look at the blueprints again. You consult the contractor and you make adjustments. You remove the damaged and rotted wood and shore up the floors with new supports. You pull out the old wiring and run in new, improved wires that do the job with no shorts or sparks. You load on protective gear and you pad the walls with insulation, the highest R-value you can afford, to make sure your family will be comfortable and your energy bills low.

You live in temporary housing, or maybe you stay right there in the house through the remodel. You face challenges there, but know that it’s short term while you work on creating the home of your dreams. It’s rough, it’s uncomfortable, and sometimes you wonder if it’s worth it. But what is your option? Give up on the house altogether?

Your marriage will be temporarily suspended, in a place it’s never been before, while you work on changing things. During counseling sessions, you will work and dig and fix things and build things. Outside of session, you won’t know what to do. Your old familiar patterns are interrupted, but the new ones aren’t yet in place. So you just sort of put up with it, knowing that it’s temporary, taking it one day at a time.

And then it starts to come together

You build new walls. You create new rooms. You add finishes and décor and it’s not quite as messy as it used to be. You take a space that was outdated and unused and make it livable and enjoyable. You check and double check, have inspections, consult contractors and adjust your plans. You argue, you discuss, you share, you come together.

You suddenly notice your relationship has changed

What used to trigger an argument, now results in a calm discussion. You go out of your way to do something nice for your spouse, and he shows you appreciation. You check in with her to see how she’s feeling, you continue to come to counseling, you create future plans. You argue, you discuss, you share, you come together.

And finally, one day, it’s done. Your walls are painted fresh and new colors. Perhaps you still have the same old furniture, but it looks different in the new space, fresher and updated. The windows are bright and clean. The foundation is solid, the roof is secure, and the house is warm and inviting. You take things out of storage and unpack the boxes, blending the old with the new, finding space to display those treasures that were nearly discarded and which now take on a new meaning.

The end result

It’s been stressful, that’s for sure. But in the end, you are able to sit in your new space, and bask in knowing that all the work and effort you put in has resulted in this. It is beautiful and comfortable, and now you can look forward to a life together, safe and secure, in your new relationship house.

Get the 5 questions that will get you communicating with your spouse

If it’s time to consider a remodel for your marriage, click here to connect with someone who can get you started creating the blueprints for your dream marriage.