In our household, I am the breadwinner and our income is from my full-time job and two, sometimes three part-time jobs I accomplish from home. For the most part this works well for us. But I would be lying if there are moments when I wished M still had an income-producing job, and I know he sometimes feels the same way.

Why I wish M had a job

  • More income for discretionary spending.
  • Funding for home projects would be achieved more quickly.
  • Hiring professional helpers to get things done would make more sense.
  • Additional funds for leisure and vacations.
  • Retirement savings would not feel so burdensome.
  • Other people’s unfair and inaccurate judgments about his character (lazy, selfish) for not having an income-producing job.

Why I am glad M does not work outside the home:

  • Happiness and contentment. M is more relaxed, happier, and healthier not have to contort to fit the demands of an employer. His personality makes “fitting in” at the workplace a stressful challenge that greatly impacts his non-working hours.
  • Convenience – for me. M does A LOT of yard and house upkeep that we would have to hire out (landscaper, housekeeper) and that make my life simpler and easier (cooking, cleaning, errands). I would also have to take time off to be at home for repairs, deliveries, services with him working outside or away from home.

Not everything comes down to dollars and cents.

I enjoy all my jobs most of the time. They provide a comfortable life for us. It helps enormously that we have only mortgage debt, an emergency fund, and other savings to allow us to sleep at night. Yes, we would love a new kitchen, and it’s on the timeline for the next three to five years. If M were working, maybe we could have the new kitchen in 2015. But thinking about the trade-off in anxiety and stress of M working and how it would impact both of us – the cost is way too high. It would be different if M had a job or skill set that paid wages, but that does not seem to be the case thus far.

The thorniest part of our life with M as chief home maintenance/repair/engineer is my desire to have projects done in a timely manner. When I am paying a contractor to do something, I have a contract that outlines both our expectations, that he will do this service in a particular timeframe barring unforeseen circumstances and change orders from us. And we have a fabulous contractor to work with on projects. With M doing the work, though, I can either go into the project resigned that it will get done when it gets done, nag him about getting it done sooner, or have an explosive outburst/fight with M after getting frustrated that days are passing and little progress is being made. He knows this about me, and while I think he understands that I am not thinking poorly of him and his capabilities, I am also unhappy that a project that should (in my mind) taken a day or two is now stretching out into a month or more (looking at you, electrical outlets and light switches). There is always a reason and usually a mostly good reason, but still. I am human; this is one of my personality quirks.

When it comes to a big project – like replacing the top, railings, and stairs on our deck – there is no way I can tolerate this stretching out over weeks and into months. This is something we have been talking about, thinking about, semi-planning since we bought our home. It’s still not done, not even started, because M knows once we purchase the materials my intent is it will be done in a concentrated manner. Another wrinkle in this is that I would like to paint our home’s exterior between tearing off the existing deck tops and installing new ones. While this is also a project M can do himself, I want to hire it out. Period. And more and more, I want to hire out the labor to replace the deck top. Which is a thorny negotiation all in itself.

M is capable; he would do a superior job on the deck and repainting our home’s exterior if we decided he would undertake those efforts. However, he is a perfectionist, and as I have noted in other things, his perfectionism is the complete and total enemy of the good. And in satisfying his wife’s desire to GET SHIT DONE! Yes, it would save us quite a lot of money for him to repaint the house and rebuild the deck on his own. However, I can see where it would take literally months for him to finish it, partly because he’s just one guy, and partly because he has other interests and pursuits that do not allow him to focus full-time on the job at hand in the period to get it done quickly and efficiently. Hiring our contractor to do the painting and replace the decktop with materials we purchase would be the best compromise. M could supervise and assist, and do the touching up where he felt it necessary after our contractor was done with the heavy lifting.

I am developing our 2015 budget and pushing back the big projects for this fall into spring of 2015, mostly because of planning and timing between the holidays but partly because of very expensive dental work and not wanting to completely deplete my reserve funds. I have to have this conversation with M to get his buy-in that we will get an estimate from our contractor and start finalizing a plan for materials and such for our deck. The house painting will go much easier, because we already know we will repaint in something close to the existing color and that M does not really want to do the work.

Marriage can be a tough gig sometimes when I want to just make a decision and not have to negotiate to get it implemented. But I love the guy, yanno? I want us to both be happy with the final outcome.

3 thoughts on “Married couple stuff

  1. H was the same way – he had the time and the skill but things took months and months to complete and it made me so crazy. I have started to make a list now that he is gone of things that will cost me money to repair…and even though I have to find the money, I am at peace knowing it will get done when and how I want it to! I don’t understand why some people are just programmed this way to leave things go for so long.

    1. It is a peculiar quirk, for sure. I get doing the improvements himself is a point of pride as well as saving money and being realistic about our spending; I am all in favor of that. I approach these things as it is equally important to be realistic about M’s ongoing enthusiasm for and interest in doing a big project by himself. If he’s just not going to become fully engaged and get it done, it’s ultimately cheaper to just pay someone to do the work for us. Selecting materials, colors, finishes, touching up and making perfect – those are the labor-intense projects he really enjoys. Getting him to admit it’s worth it to just pay our contractor to do some of the base work without wounding M’s ego can be a tedious discussion.

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