Build Something Beautiful, Together!

This is a re-post of a blog I wrote two years ago when Mr. H and I first moved in together, we decided to build a beautiful bench to go on our new super cute porch at our super cute house back when we lived in Denver. As we built this bench I realized that the process of putting the bench together was a lot like the process of putting together a healthy relationship and so this blog post, and eventually this website harrishomemade.com  were born out of this idea, that we could physically and relationally build something beautiful, together.

So here it is….

So what does this bench have to do with my marriage?

Well we built it.. no kit, not precut pieces of wood, nope just a youtube video and a trip to home depot later and we were making a bench. This took both of our strengths and some I don’t think we knew we had in order to accomplish it.

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Here I am at home depot, bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to construct our very own bench, something that will hopefully last 30 years so we can pass it down to our children, as his parent just did with a picnic table Mr.’s Dad built 30 years ago.

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Did I mention we decided to build this bench on the day it snowed in May? No? Oh well here I am bundled up in our garage waiting for the snow to melt as we begin sawing.

But we get underway constructing this bench and just like I imagine we will in marriage, we started to hit some bumps, my bright eyed and bushy tailed turned into curse words and we were soon doubting if we could put this bench together at all. It started when we realized we didn’t charge the drill, and were left screwing most of the screws in by hand, do you know how many screws it takes to put a bench together? Way too many to screw them in by hand I tell you that.

I started to think that this was Ben’s fault and that it was his drill so he should have been responsible for the charge of the battery and as my wrist became more and more sore, I had two choices to continue blaming mr. and become resentful, or realize that this is something we are in together, realize we both will make mistakes and that as a team we will work through them, so on I went screwing in screw after screw by hand. ( And to be fair, he was also participating in this, it wasn’t like I was left with a screwdriver on an abandoned island or anything)

And I am sure he was thinking that I could be helping more, or stop nagging him about the directions, I am sure I screwed a screw in wrong, or measured the pieces of wood too small ( ok  I know I did that one once) And he could have taken those things and created a list, an arbitrary checklist of the ways I was failing him and allowed that running record to eat away at his faith in me. in us. But he didn’t every time no matter how frustrated he was he would look at me, smile, say “you are doing great babe”, and move on… EVERY time.

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And then we screwed the legs together wrong, leaving us with what would have been a seatless bench, not very effective right? So unscrew the pieces, and start again, this time following the directions. This is where we could dip deep down into those gender stereotypes pull out the one that says men don’t follow directions put a big ole check mark on it and slip it back into our pocket of low blows to use next time. But if we are going to create a marriage that is built to last, what we really need to be doing is digging into that pocket of stereotypes and low blows and throwing them in that brand new recycling bin we just got and let someone else compost those. Because holding on to these things just creates an environment where both Mr. and myself could be digging deeper and deeper at each other until one of us breaks.

Now 50 years into this bench building marriage we will have so many of these things we could be throwing at each other that there is no way to survive all of those bad experiences, but if instead we choose to recycle that crap, chalk it up to a mistake we both made and move on, then in 2,5 or 50 years we won’t be counting all the ways our spouse has messed up over the years right?

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It was starting to look like a marriage…. I mean bench, the pieces were all where they needed to be, it had legs it could stand on and a sturdy seat two people could sit on. But there was something missing, just like our marriage which has 79 days until it becomes official ,our bench was missing some crucial pieces to it’s structure. But this is where it really got tricky, the video said to put the back at a slight angle so that it would be more comfortable to sit on. The guy used a fancy tool to measure and then drill sideways through the posts in order to accomplish this with ease. However here we were with our dead drills, no fancy tool and only the few screws that we had purchased which were now to short for this job. How were we going to accomplish it?

And then Mr. had an idea, he said why don’t we use extra wood, create a back for the ends and use that to nail into, that would cut down on the amount of screws we need and allow us to create the comforting angle we had heard about in the video.

There you have it folks I am marrying a genius this is where I got to celebrate with him, think about how I never would have thought of that on my own and rejoice in his accomplishments, I could do this without fault because I had already thrown my earlier reservations in the recycling with our bench building mistakes.

So that is what we did, and it worked!

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And there it was our beautiful bench, it is still not perfect all the pieces don’t exactly line up, the wood is not sanded or painted to perfection, the back angle isn’t exactly even or at  the magic comfort angle that was prescribed, but let me tell you what…it is sturdy,

And in 30 years when our marriage has seen the test of time,  I hope we will look at this bench think of all the things we could have held onto over the years, all of the little mistakes that could have torn us apart but instead made us a better team and think it all started with this bench.

❤ Rae

We’re like a really small gang.

 

Do you have any friends that are your family? They are the people you turn to when you need it, they are the people who would adopt your child if you ever died?

Well I grew up and those people those friends were truly my family, my mom had a group of best friends that when asked, or I had an assignment on family I always chose them. They were the people we spent Thanksgiving with, they were the people I could count on to be at my volleyball games, my recitals, ALL my graduations, Kindergarten, 5th, 8th, high school, undergrad and graduate school). They were always there and when I asked as a child if something happened to my mom where I would live, it was with them.

This is what I always dreamed of growing up, the family that I chose and the people who are in my life not because they have to be biologically but because they chose to be, And honestly it happened. It college I met a group of girls that are more family than anything, we have been friends for almost 10 years now and this year we are even spending Friendsgiving together on real Thanksgiving, we have been there for all of the weddings, and proposals we have celebrated moves, jobs and college graduations and probably soon someone in the group will welcome the gangs first baby. We all live spread among the West Coast.

But we have also been experiencing growing pains as we grow up, we all met when we were in college, none of us married, most of us single and we had all the time in the world to spend together. We lived life in community spending most of our nights together on the couch and most of our days drinking mimosas and eating pancakes (okay that was only Sunday’s but we loved those mimosas) And we only had to worry about passing our classes and having enough money to make rent and pay for the aforementioned mimosas.  We developed our own way of communicated a fast paced- snarky- love filled style of speaking that our husbands still have a hard time keeping up with.

So what does that look like for us now? How can we keep the same level of intimacy with each other as our significant others become our best friends and 1,000 miles separate us? Well you know I am learning that its more than possible it is beautiful. You have to intentionally make the time to talk to each other, you have to share the things that happened in your life when they no longer are just home when you get home to share them with. And then what happens when you are all together again? When you suddenly move 15 minutes away and you have to remember how to speak in that snarky language all over again. There are growing pains in that too, growing pains in living in proximity to the ones you love too, you have to learn how to share your life again and give up some of your independence to those around you all over again…. Now next we will see what happens when the next life stage changes for us, we have grown together from the singleness of college to being married or engaged, and we will learn how to grow together through babies, and all the things that come with that. Because we are our small gang.

 

Now over the last year or so there have been a lot of changes to the make-up of this family, see one of the best things about a friends family is that they choose to be in your life, but one of the problems with a friends family is just that, they choose to be in your life. So they can also choose not to be in your life. ( not that blood family can’t also make that choice, exhibit A- 85% of my blood relatives, including my Dad) but with friends family it can be a simple quick decision there isn’t the rest of the family bugging them to join the family holiday parties, one day they are just gone. And with my moms Friend Family that is exactly what they all decided this last year. The woman I called my second mom, and the man who walked me down the aisle are no longer a part of my life for the most part because they are no longer a part of my moms life. And like honestly it feels a little bit like my parents got a divorce.

My mom and Sue were like a really small gang, they had been friends for 30 years they had helped each others kids grow and my mom had helped Sue bury her son. They had been together when Sue’s husband went off to war, twice. And celebrated each time he came home. We celebrated all of my thanksgivings together and most of the Christmas’s but now that really small gang has broken up.

 

So is it possible to have lifetime friends? Can you really achieve the goal of having a family that you choose and not one by blood? I sure hope so we will see, I still have hope that my “divorced parents” will speak again someday. I have hope that you can navigate all the changes of life with the same close group of friends, I have hope that all of the sitcoms ever (How I met your Mother, Friends, One Tree Hill, etc) were not lying to me and I can have my friend family! Because right now there isn’t any other way I would want it to be.