I niavely thought it would be smooth sailing after the contract was signed. After all, we had a buyer who wanted the house enough to sign a contract. “We’re there!” I thought. But there was more for me to learn.
The next thing to face was the home inspection. This is where someone looks at your house with a careful and critical eye. They find things that need to be fixed. They find things you didn’t know about. They find things you had overlooked for so long you had forgotten about. They find things you hoped they wouldn’t find. They find all these things and then they present you with a list of things that aren’t right and need to be changed.
Facing that list can be very discouraging. “I didn’t know there was that much wrong with this place!” Facing that list can make you angry. “This is not a problem! It’s fine! They’re just being picky!” But once you have the list you have some decisions to make. “Which of these things am I going to change and which am I going to ignore?” It’s a big decision, because some of the things on the list could be deal breakers.
All this is a little like marriage. You’re excited and upbeat when the relationship is first “under contract,” but shortly into the process you get a list of things your spouse would like you to fix or change. It’s discouraging that they don’t just accept you as you are. Then it starts to make you mad that they would think there are things about you that are wrong. Like a home inspector, they’re pointing out things that need to improve. And just like a home inspection, you have to decide which things you’re going to fix, which things you’re going to ignore, and which things might be deal-breakers?
When you find yourself faced with a marital “inspection” list, look at each item and ask yourself these questions…
- Is this something I can easily fix? Many of the things on our home inspection list were really easy fixes, but I found myself complaining about them and somewhat resistant at first. Likewise, many of the things we need to fix or change about ourselves in marriage are simple and easy to do, but we let our pride get in the way and we resist making the easy changes. We don’t take out the trash when we’re asked, because we don’t want to be told what to do. We don’t arrange a sitter so we can go out with our spouse, because we think our spouse should do that. We don’t help more with the kids because we believe that’s our spouse’s job. There are many of these “easy fixes” in marriage, but we ignore or resist them. If you’re being asked to make an easy fix…fix it.
- Is this something I’m able to fix? There were a few things on our home inspection list that we weren’t able to fix, either because of the age of our house or the limit of our bank account. Likewise, in marriage there are some things that might not get fixed or changed. One example would be your spouse’s personality. Expecting your quiet introverted spouse to change into a flaming social extrovert is unrealistic. Trying to fix something that only your spouse can fix is another thing you won’t be able to change. It’s a pour use of energy to try to change something you can’t really change.
- Is this something I’m willing to wreck the deal over? As I looked at each item on my home inspection list, I had to ask myself, “Am I willing to let this deal fall through over this item?” Initially, my emotions kicked in and I thought, “Yeah! That’s important enough to let the whole thing fall apart!” But once I got past my knee-jerk reaction, I often changed my tune. The same can happen in marriage. When you’re asked to change something, you can puff up and think, “I don’t care what happens. I’m not being pushed around.” But if you can swallow your pride, get past the emotion, and think things through you will find out that there are very few things in marriage worth letting things fall completely apart. The exception to this are issues of abuse, abandonment, and adultery. These can be worked through, but they should never be tolerated just for the sake of “holding things together.”
We all get marital “inspection lists from time to time. When this happens, use these three questions to put your inspection list into into proper perspective.
So, how are you doing on the inspection list you’ve been handed? Don’t let it throw you. Start by knocking out the simple fixes first. You’ll be surprised the difference it will make in your marriage and how much closer it will put you to the home of your dreams.
Be sure to check out the next post in the “What I’ve Learned About Marriage From Buying a House” series.
Is there something your spouse has asked you to fix or change in your marriage? If so, spend the next month working on that, then let us know what happened.
Copyright © 2015 Bret Legg