I was up to my neck, surrounded by boxes as I cleaned the spare room. Boxes filled with books, memorabilia going back the almost ten years we've been in our house... and earlier.
Sitting behind the bookshelf was a huge frame. I pulled it out, wondering what it was. Would it be some amazing photograph I'd forgotten about? Or a print given to us years ago?
I was sadly disappointed. There was a picture, yes. A forgotten one, oh yes. But it was a picture that had possibly been placed there by one member of the household who had been hoping the other would forget it existed. An enormous, revoltingly purple, tacky Phantom comic print.
Apparently it's worth a lot of money, but, seriously, would you hang that in your house? No, I thought not. Me either.
Marriage tip 1: When you don't like his things, gradually and sneakily move them to a carefully planned hiding spot.
Steve and I have often struggled with this dilemma: who has the final say in decorating the house? We both live here but we don't always like the same things. And compromise is rarely possible in these situations. (To be perfectly honest, we're both far too stubborn for compromise to work in many situations.)
Take, for example, the time I decided I wanted all the carpet removed from the house. We had already taken it out of the main living areas, kitchen and laundry to uncover beautiful hardwood floors, but I wanted to go further: I wanted polished wooden floors in the bedrooms as well.
Steve said no. It would be too cold, he argued. My plan was to have a rug in each room, and pointed out that the moment we step out of the bedroom, our feet would be on wooden floors anyway. That's why socks and slippers were invented. Still, Steve said no.
He came home from fire brigade one Sunday afternoon to find the carpets removed from the bedrooms. And, I might add, he loved it.
Marriage tip 2: When you can't agree, just do it anyway.
Our next disagreement was with paint colours. I wanted a feature wall in the lounge room. Steve said no, he didn't like feature walls. He hadn't learnt from the last time and went to fire brigade again, coming home to find various colours painted over the wall. There was no choice but to paint it - a dark red wine colour.
He said, that's it - one feature wall is enough. But I was hooked. I wanted more. Steve said absolutely not. The next time he left the house, he came home to a green wall in our bedroom. (I might add that he did like both feature walls. But this one is only a semi-win, as I no longer like them. Oops.)
Are you sensing a pattern here?
Marriage tip 3: If he goes out, he must suffer the consequences.
Now, here we are undertaking a major renovation. We not only have to decide on flooring and paint colours (which has actually gone surprisingly smoothly this time!), but house plans and layouts and furniture and, well, everything.
You may recall the beginning of this renovation, when we argued in front of the builder. Steve had spoken to the builders about one aspect of the plans and made some changes that we hadn't spoken about. I changed them back, with his eventual agreement of course.
Marriage tip 4: Argue until he finally agrees, just to shut you up.
As for the inside of the house, I have a clear picture in my mind of how each room will look. The problem is I tend to forget to share this information with Steve, and he has an entirely different image in his mind. Then I get frustrated that he doesn't share my opinion and become intent on trying to change his mind.
Marriage tip 5: It's all about communication. Who knew?
And the Phantom picture? Well, I'll be sure to communicate my thoughts on that.
Marriage tip 6: If you don't want to say something to your husband, ask him to read your latest blog post instead.