Meeting The Challenges

Posted: June 27, 2011 in Love and Marriage
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When you start working on a project in an older home, it almost always produces unexpected challenges.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a big job or a small one.  If you think it’s going to take 30 minutes, it will probably end up being at least two hours.  If you’re expecting to work a few hours, it may be a day or more.  The older the house, the more this tends to hold true.

The reasons are varied.  Usually, it’s because once you start tearing into something, or taking something apart, you find out that the problems are worse than you expected.  Very often, this is further complicated by the fact that the construction and the materials are so outdated, there is no easy fix.  It’s not as simple as taking off a leaky faucet and replacing it with a new one.  It turns out that the pipes are rusted out further down and the fittings don’t match what’s being made now, and it always seems to be Sunday evening when nothing is open to get parts anyway.

At those times, decisions have to be made.  Will you insist on the replacement parts being as genuine and authentic to the time period as possible?  If so, what if they no longer meet building codes?  If you can’t find suitable parts, will you attempt to weld and make your own?  Are you willing to allow for updating and modernizing, and, if so, to what degree?

In the case of our marriage, we had a good number of years under our belt when all the problems came to the surface.  Many of these were long-standing issues that should have been dealt with as part of routine maintenance, or when they were small.  They would have been much easier to fix.  As it was, we got through the worst of it by last August, when we began living together again.  Even so, the unexpected problems and issues kept popping up.

Whenever it seemed like things were ready to go smooth and easy, something would always seem to arise that would make us have to stop and deal with it.  There were times that we reached a high level of frustration and we both made statements like, “This is never going to go away,” or “This will never be over.”  As much as we were trying to focus on the present and the future, the past kept creeping up and interfering with the work we were doing on our relationship.  We shouldn’t have expected it to be easy, but we were still caught off guard by the idea that there was going to be more to this than we thought.

As we’ve moved throughout this year of the restoration tour, we’ve experienced incredibly high highs and devastatingly low lows.  The highs are better than anything we used to have in our marriage, and they allow us to see what is really possible when two people love each other the way God intended.  The lows cause us to have to make those same kinds of decisions that come up in a house restoration when things don’t go according to plan.

There are three things that I think need to be stated about the restoration tour.  The first is this:  No matter how difficult or frustrating it ever becomes, you don’t give up and walk away from the house.  Ever.  You have too much invested and you will never be able to be completely ok with letting go of that dream and that place you called home.  You may have to re-think some things, it may take more time and money than you were hoping, and you may have to do things differently than you were planning, but you stay in the house and you do what you have to do.

The second is this: There is little or no room for rigidity when it comes to restoring a marriage.  You have to be willing to be flexible.  You have to allow for the fact that time has passed, and things are constantly changing.  No matter how good some of your past memories are, and no matter how much you want things to be just the way they were, that’s probably not going to be the case.

You can’t get stuck in the past.  You have to make some changes and embrace some newness.  A relationship is a living, dynamic thing that doesn’t just stay still.  Some things you may not be able to fix or replace, and you may just have to come up with something new where that used to be.

The third is this:  Restoring your past mistakes and hurts is not a make-believe game.  It’s not playing dress up and acting like things are different from they are.  It’s confronting those areas where you failed in the past and succeeding in the present.  It’s finding those places where things weren’t built right or sustained damage and either re-doing the work so that it is right, or replacing what’s faulty with something newer and better.

What you end up with may not look exactly like it did in the beginning.  It also may not turn out to be what you thought it would when you started.  If it’s done correctly, though, it will be stronger, more useful, and more in keeping with the times.  It may very well also end up being more beautiful than it ever was before.

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