Assembly Required!

Two weeks ago Josh and I revisited our roots by spending some time “building an office”. It was just like the days we met—long hours in front of new furniture with lots of labeling and loads of trash. But it’s these times of working together in which we are reminded of our many similarities…and our many differences. AND… how we best handle them.

We have two bedrooms in our house. One, we sleep in, the other, well, the other is for everything else. Got a computer or two? Throw it in there. How about some old mail? There’s a pile or 9 in there for that. Books? Sure, why not chuck those on that bookshelf thingy?! What do we do with this vacuum? Eh, put it in the “office”. People are coming over!! Hide all that crap in the front room!!!

After feet and feet of measuring tape and pencil sketches of our ideas drawn on scrap paper, we were ready to shop! We borrowed a couple trucks, emptied out our furniture, and headed to Ikea for our new goodies! With 2 days and 15 hours of “free time” to devote to this daunting task, we began to get a move on putting our new office together.

Marriage is great. You wake up next to your buddy, you enjoy dinners together, you cuddle.

You also learn to work together. Whether you like to or not. And it can be difficult.

So, you communicate. It’s do or die. If you can’t communicate—well, you’d better learn.

Josh tore open the first filing cabinet. I got started on assembling the file boxes (yes, at Ikea, you even assemble file boxes). An hour later, I was done with my file boxes and Josh was well into the file cabinet. And he was cruising! I offered to help, as I wanted to show off my skills as a handy(wo)man to my hubby. I was taught how to hammer, screw, snap, crackle, pop, etc. as a kid… I’m fairly handy for a woman, you know? This particular piece, however, proved to be rather difficult, took a LOT more force than I’d expected, and required a good understanding of how each piece connects to its neighbor. Quickly frustrated, I shoved it back over to Josh and left the remainder of the task to him.

My frustration quickly turned to a quiet demeanor. I felt as if I’d failed at something I thought I was really good at. I felt as if Josh had positioned himself as the one in the household that would always handle the physical stuff. I know that’s a typical “man-function”, and I’m all for “marital roles”, but I felt that I’d lost some of my independence. (I may feel this loss of independence more than some women—I don’t deny my “tomboy roots”, leaving me proud of my few carpentry abilities…) I felt it was unfair.

Josh finished the filing cabinet (one of two!) and we decided to leave the rest of the assembly for the next day. After noticing my quietness, Josh began to inquire as to what crept into my head over the past hour. I had two options. I could pretend nothing bothered me, hit the sack, and wake up the next morning hoping the feelings would go away. OR. Or, I could communicate and share with Josh the thoughts of unfairness and jealousy that I’d felt. I chose the latter. As I explained my silly fears, the frustration began to dissipate. Josh listened intently with an encouraging and loving ear (nothing new, if you know my sweet guy). I felt awful for actually holding his abilities and talents against him, and of being jealous of him for that hour or two. It’s so silly, I know, but it was a “deal” to me… and it could have been a “big deal” had I not chosen to work through it with him. I apologized for being such a nerd, and Josh told me he’d try to be more patient with me and continue to help me refine my handyman skills if I wanted.

Twenty four hours and a thousand and five giggles later, we’d completed assembling our new office. We had so much fun working together on the project. I found that my strengths really lie in cleaning, organizing and sorting (typical, how’s that for ironic), rather than with drills, screws, nuts, and bolts, so I left those things (eagerly at this point) to Josh. And check out the job we did!