The aggravation is taking its toll on my wife

Questions and answers relating to houses built in the 1800s and before.

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The aggravation is taking its toll on my wife

Post by MattStiltner »

Well, we're about a week into all the repairs, and the constant hiding of more and more damages is starting to take a toll on my wife's mental stability.

We pull the toilet for a new one, and the wall is being held up by plywood boards. The plaster behind it is shot to hell. So my wife is losing her marbles over all this.

I'm just trying to absorb all the necessary costs. So far in a week I've dropped about $1500 to do repairs, tooling, and some paint. Its not easy trying to prepare a home for move in, and its something new to her. But we'll get through it, its just that in the previous 10 years, she never had such a direct interaction in things that broke and how they were fixed except "Hey Matt, something x y z is broke on the a b c :) "

I think this, coupled with the fact she wants to just plain move in, its all starting to tear her down a little. I think its time to put her on the back burner for a day or two and let her rest. She's putting too much energy into it, and not feeling like anything is done because everytime she's turning around, something else needs a fix before we can move in.

I'll have a day off work Monday, maybe that'll be a good day to just blow all the work off, and go to dinner and relax. As is right now, she's gonna implode from all the setbacks and problems.

I know we've all been down this road in one form or another, so whats the best way to just say "bah" and walk away from it for a few days. She's so fixated upon finishing, that she can't focus on what needs to be done to get to the finish line, and even when she can, it seems like the line keeps getting farther away every step forward we're making.

IMO, new plumbing, walls in 3/5 rooms primed ready for painting, subfloor for the kitchen is laid awaiting the floor. I know we're making damn good progress, how can I convey it to her better?
My Home's Website - Finally back up and displaying pictures. Hooray for time to do something with it

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Post by Starr-Point »

Um, since she's your wife - and, necessarily a woman - you don't explain anything. At the risk of being pegged a sexist, women simply view things differently than men. My wife finds it very hard to look at anything in terms of steps and progress. She is a slave to that vision in her head of a fait accompli.

This can be both a blessing and a curse - since we've been marriied 14 wonderful years this June, mostly a blessing. Else I'd still be saying "what great progress we've made" instead of "thank goodnes we're done that." :)

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Post by lrkrgrrl »

Prozac? :wink: Although, valium might be better, since SSRI's take a month or so to really work. :wink:

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Post by jeepnstein »

Been there, done that, got the witnesses to back it up. It's not that pretty at all when this starts happening.

We needed to have the house "ready" by which I mean done and perfect before moving day. That was really nice except I was exhausted, had dropped about twenty pounds, and my boss was in no mood to grant me time off to complete my work (even though I had five weeks of accumulated vacation that I was never permitted to take). The resentment piled up and still surfaces even today if I have the misfortune of bringing up that period.

My wife was unaware of how tired I was; that I was seeing ghosts, and was no longer able to do simple mathematical calculations in my head. Her answer was to bring in more people to "help" which usually resulted in even less getting done. Things were compounded further because she had to be at our other house watching the kids and didn't see just how much of a mess things were in the beginning. All she could see was that the floors were a mess and there was no toilet upstairs. It was a miserable experience that I will never repeat again.

Walking away from it was not an option for me.

At least I know who my friends really are now. My wife is number one, my favorite drinking buddy is number two, my twin nephews are three and four, my in-laws makes the grade; and everyone else is sort of suspect at this point.

What's the answer? Sorry, if moving day is approaching then there is no answer. It's worse if you have small kids because they aren't supposed to be exposed to all this chaos and destruction. If you can re-define what is "acceptable" as move-in condition then maybe you can get some breathing room.


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Post by healingtouch »

I think the only thing that kept me from losing it was a friend of mine helped me prioritize things and make a list. He is a great list maker. Once I had it down on paper - or computer actually and could mark off what had been done it was a lot easier for me to see the progress. Because no matter what you get done a dozen other things seem to stare at you and say "but you don't have me done yet"

I had to get it cleaned up to livable level, move in then start remodeling to move the business because I can't afford the mortgage and the rent on the office space. So it was very difficult. Sometimes you just have to step back, realize what has been done and really prioritize. Does this really have to be done before we move in?

So I truly sympathize with your wife.

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Post by Jen »

Matt, the suggestion I have for you is this: Try to get one room in the house completely done ASAP. That way, when all the work gets overwhelming, she (and/or you) can head to that room and close the door on all the mess and work. In our house, it was our bedroom. Another suggestion, direct her to our board here. She'll see that she's not alone and you are not crazy in doing what you are doing with this house!

Give her a big hug from us.
"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
- William Morris

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Post by Abuela »

Starr-Point wrote:Um, since she's your wife - and, necessarily a woman - you don't explain anything. At the risk of being pegged a sexist, women simply view things differently than men. My wife finds it very hard to look at anything in terms of steps and progress. She is a slave to that vision in her head of a fait accompli.
Well, I won't stomp on you TOO hard for being a sexist :P :wink: I will chime in - as a woman - that my partner (also a woman) is also someone who struggles to conceptualize the scope of work on big project, and her ability to deal with it goes down dramatically as her stress level about it goes up. I am the one who knows how to plan it out, knows how to manage the project, and knows that no matter what you do, it can easily end up taking 5 times as long and costing 10 times more than you'd expected. She knows these things in theory, and overall is very good at living in whatever level of chaos is required for a particular project, but when there is some deadline involved or some other big stressful issue involved (such as not having a functioning toilet or shower - see example below - or big outside unrelated stressors happening at the same time) her coping abilities can disintegrate quickly, often taking me down with her.

Fortunately, over time we have worked out a way to manage this dramatic difference in our perspectives/approaches/stress limits that works for us... well, 75% of the time at least. First, instead of overloading her with the big picture and all the details that I tend to overdo (have you noticed how wordy I can be?!?), I majorly simplify the plan and timeline for her to reference. I'll even post a copy of it in the area/room where the work is being done. I also create daily or weekly checklists and post and update those.

So it's some extra work for me (though not nearly as much work as it sounds, and definitely not as much work as dealing with arguments and mental implosions!) but it's been worth it. Her part of the deal is that she accepts two things: One, that she is meant to be a worker bee who is assigned tasks, and that she has to stop trying to make herself see the big picture because it always gets morphed in her head into the final picture, which she then wants to have happen overnight with a sprinkling of magic faery dust and our Powerball winnings. Two, that it's her responsibility to take care of her mental stability and not let her stress over things impact our relationship, but also her responsibilty to balance taking care of herself with doing her share of the work.

So this is what works for us, and I will tell you that the last big high-stress project we tackled last summer that had a lot of ugly surprises (involving a bathroom remodel that was a direct result of a non-functioning ancient rusted tin can septic tank where the resident shit-monster was pushing stuff back up into the shower and toilet of our ONLY BATHROOM, resulting in two weeks of a camping toilet, babywipe baths, and occasional visits to our daughter's house to use her shower) really worked out better than any other project had before, because we kept reminding ourselves of what we each needed to do to keep from wanting to jump into (or push the other one into) the nearby bay, chained to a few concrete blocks.

Oh, one other thing that works well for us: Driving/retail therapy as a means to separate, destress, and refocus. If there is something we need (and there is ALWAYS something we need - doesn't everyone measure their projects by the number of trips you need to take to the hardware or lumber store?), we try to use those as stress relievers. Sometimes I'd push her out the door with a list because I could see she needed the break (often times with instructions to stop by and have a quick visit with our granddaughter first). Sometimes I'd leave before I exploded and the time would diffuse the tension. And sometimes we'd go together, stop and have a quick lunch or dinner, crank up the disco or salsa music in the car, take a break together.

(it's pretty sad that at this point in our lives, a "date night" means an early dinner at Craker Barrel and a trip to Lowes! :lol: )

Good luck dealing with this, and I hope that you and your wife are able to figure out something that works for you. It's so easy to have these things make you crazy, and to make each other crazy to the point where you are going backwards instead of forwards.
"Finished" is all a state of mind. ~Angolito

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

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Post by mhodge44 »

This all sounds extremely familiar to me. Very similiar to what me and my girlfriend ahd went through before our recent crash and burn (see the true cost of this old house). And she didnt even worry about the finances, I paid for everything with us and the house. Maybe thats why I had to contact the bank yesterday, around the end of the month I am taking out a $35k line of credit. It can't come out of the pockets anymore, I was averaging $800/mo. in materials on the house and who knows what on the girlfriend.

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Post by johnb. »

Your girlfriend should talk to my wife. She was the driving force for our project (Greek Revival Survival). She BEGGED me to go along with her. Words can't explain my thoughts when I first entered the house!

I'm a better organizer than she. We were engaged and she was buying it, regardless. It was the house and me, or just the house! She tempted me with a 10 yr. old pole barn on the property and I got sucked in. I had limited carpentry skills. I'm a mechanic by trade. But, her dad said we could handle it and I trusted him. After all, his house was nearly as bad 35 years ago.

And, MHodge44.....Do you HAVE to get a loan? Maybe you could only do as much as you can afford to do. What's the big hurry? We've been working on our place since '92 and still don't have it finished, yet. So what? Who cares? Do the most important stuff first and prioritize by need and cost. Do what is right for you.

The year we put a completely new roof on the place, the well went dry two weeks later. It had just cost us $3500. for the roof. Then, we had to spend another $2500+ to drill a new well. At that point, we'd used up our budget (for about years worth of remodeling) and couldn't do anything major until we got caught up. Hell, we all had orange underwear for a year because the new well was full of iron and we couldn't afford a water system. But, we laugh about it now.

That's one thing about my Missus, she doesn't spend money easily. She is "low maintenance". If things are tight, she makes my lunch. "$5 a day for lunch is $100 a month. We've got better things to spend that on than Pepsi." And you know, she's right. Otherwise, we'd be in debt because I don't think like that. But, I'm learning! Be patient. You don't have to get everything done, today. You need time to relax and you can't relax if you're wallet is constantly empty.

Besides, if you're warm and dry, the rest is just fluff. You've got no one to satisfy but yourself. Who cares that the house isn't "done". It will be, eventually. Be on your own timetable. Take your time and enjoy it. Most of our best memories revolve around one of our restoration projects.

Someday I'll tell you how, while cleaning up the property, my wife got poison oak on her a--, and that was right when she wanted to get pregnant............No wonder I have no hair!

Hey, maybe this'll help: I get a greater response from doing a "honey-do" than by taking her out for dinner. I built her a stone wall for her garden and it was honeymoon time, all over again!!!!

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Post by spiderweb »

My new standard way of thinking about time & money planning is to double whatever I think it may be...and then double that again. LOL

Hello, I am new. Been lurking a few weeks and just had to make a post on this one. :) We moved into our 1880 Farmhouse March 18, 2005.

And my best advice to you is to not try and swallow it whole. Break it into bits. PRIORITIES! There are various stages of doneness. The getting done enough to move in stage, the kitchen getting a floor stage (we had to completely redo our foundation and we totally gutted the kitchen down to dirt when we did), the oh-maybe-we-won't-have-anymore-plumbing-leaks-now stage -- my point being here, in everyone's old house project there are varying degrees of doneness.

Eventually, you will numb out to some of the things that seem so catastrophic right now. What seems like a monster before you now is nothing compared to what you may encounter 6 weeks from now - count your blessings. And do not sweat the small stuff. You will get to it when you get to it.

And lastly, I cannot stress how much moving in will help matters. You may think the house is talking to you now but its really only a whisper. You will move in and it will tell you what it needs. Sometimes even demand what it needs. So I urge you to get what you think is absolutely necessary done and then just jump - the time and money you may save by just going ahead and moving in (depending on where you are living now - for us, we had 2 house payments and a two hour drive everyday for over 6 months).

Good luck to you.
Blessed be.

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