My wife and I are in the process of selling our current house and buying a new one. (It’s a big deal to us since it’s probably the last house we’ll own before our kids put us in the nursing home.) It’s a daunting process. Since we’ve been in our current house for twenty years, the process of selling it and buying another feels a little overwhelming.
First, there’s all the stuff. Over the course of twenty years you accumulate a lot of stuff. We’ve had to thin out a lot of things over the last few months. There were things that didn’t fit anymore. Things that weren’t helpful anymore. Things we didn’t use. Things we didn’t need. It’s not always easy to figure out what to keep and what to let go of, but you need to do it if you’re going to move on.
Then there’s all the repairs. Over the course of twenty years, little things can get neglected. Whether it’s the caulk around the sink that needs redone, or the paint on the door that’s getting dingy, there are things that fall into disrepair so gradually you just don’t notice. Then one day, you need this house to look good and you’ve got a lot of work to do.
Then there are the memories. We’ve lived over half of our married life in this house so there are lots of memories there. When we moved into this house, our children were in elementary school. Now they’re in their early thirties with children of their own. This house has been a home for single adults who had no where to go for the holidays. This house has been a hang out for a herd of teenagers who ate my food and took over my TV. (The funny thing is, one of those teenagers grew up to become the realtor helping us sell the house.) This house has been a sanctuary for a daughter and a granddaughter when life dealt them a cruel hand. And this house has helped to shelter and grow our marriage as we went from being the parents of young children to being empty nesters. There are a lot of memories to process.
Finally, there’s the idea that you’re handing this off to someone else. This house has been a part of us for so long, the thought of handing it over to someone else can raise some questions. Will they love it they way we did? Will they take pride in it and treat it well? Will they completely change things? But the real question is this…will we be passing on something they can take pride in and build upon, or will we be handing them something that’s broken down and continues to cause them problems? Fortunately, in this case it’s the former.
These things have caused me to think a lot about marriage, and this is what I’ve learned about marriage so far from buying a house…
- Be careful about accumulating stuff. Through the years, you accumulate more than just stuff in marriage. You accumulate attitudes, hurts, habits, and grudges. These things begin to stack up before you realize it. It’s easier to keep these things from accumulating in your marriage than it is to to thin these things out of your marriage after they’ve accumulated. So be on your guard and don’t accumulate anything in your heart, mind, or actions that will clutter you marriage and have a negative impact on your relationship.
- Keep up on the repairs. Everything breaks down over time…unless you keep it up. You need to keep up the repairs in your marriage. Pay attention to what your spouse needs and don’t wait to supply it. Apologize quickly and sincerely when you’ve hurt your spouse. Tighten up attitudes and actions that can cause your love for your spouse to leak. Regularly apply a fresh coat of emotional and physical closeness to keep your marriage looking and feeling like new.
- Remember your memories. It’s the memories that turn a house into a home, and a marriage is like a home in that it’s full of memories. It’s these memories that give meaning to marriage. Don’t get so caught up with what’s going on in front of you, that you fail to hang onto all that’s gone on behind you. Hopefully the good memories will out-weigh the bad memories and give you the fuel you need to make more memories.
- Pass on something worthwhile. There’s a sense in which you hand off your marriage to your kids and to others who are watching. They will learn from your marriage and build upon its foundations. Make sure you leave them a marriage they can take pride in and build well upon…not something they must continually try to overcome and repair.
There’s more to learn about marriage from this house buying experience, so we’ll continue in the next post with part 2 of “What I’ve Learned About Marriage From Buying a House.”
If this post hit a button for you when it comes to marriage, please share it in a comment. We all have much to learn.
Copyright © 2015 Bret Legg