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How to Complete a Renovation Without Getting a Divorce

DIY renovations can put a lot of stress on a marriage or any relationship. Our sister site, Family Handyman, collected pieces of advice from real readers who've made it through a renovation without their relationship suffering. Here, they share their secrets for concerned couples everywhere.

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couple painting house wall
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Renovation doesn’t have to come at the expense of romance

When it comes time for a home renovation, relationships can become strained. Remodeling woes definitely count as one of the normal fights that even happy couples have. But our expert advice and great tips from our readers will hopefully help you complete any renovation project while maintaining a happy relationship. With this advice, you’ll want to go on a date night once the renovation is all complete to celebrate!

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Young family renovating their home, painting wall
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Get the family involved

“My wife decides all the details about how something should look, and I retain veto power if I DISLIKE anything.” -David Hawkins

“Get the whole family involved. A remodel that doesn’t meet everyone’s needs will lead to more arguments and more stress as soon as the last nail is driven.” -Paul Bianchini

“My wife likes to say, ‘We work best together in separate rooms.'” -Ed Stawicki

“I let her make all of the design decisions and I do all of the work, which is the part I enjoy!” -Dave Pike

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Couple making home improvement, measuring, high angle view.

Pick your battles

“Pick your battles. If it really doesn’t matter to you if the room is blue or yellow, let it go.” -Nancy Hayes

“The 3 most important words in a marriage: ‘you’re right, dear!'” -Larry L. Meacham

“I do everything but paint. I’m not allowed to do any of that at all, and for 27 years that has worked fairly well.” -Michael Gilfilian

And if the argument is about one of these home renovations you’ll probably regret later, you might want to reconsider it altogether.

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Man doing renovation work at home together with his small yellow dog
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Timing is everything

“I tell my wife how long a project will take—and she knows it will take three times longer.” -Dave Switzer

“I tell my wife, ‘Let me finish one project and enjoy it for at least a week before you add another to my list.’ ” -Brian Feltz

And if money is part of the issue, check out these home improvements that basically pay for themselves.

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couple taking a break from renovations. smiling at eachother with coffee mugs.
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Happy family means happy renovation

“During big projects, I turn off the saw one or two days of the week to reacquaint myself with the family. It may take a few days longer to finish, but I won’t have to sleep on the couch.” -Brian Barger

“During a recent project, I spent the early evening with my family, tucked my girls into bed, and worked from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. I lost some sleep, but this kept the family happy.” -Ben Kim

Patience! “My wife doesn’t work with tools every day, so she doesn’t know one saw from another. You have to be ready to explain things a lot.” -Mark T. Platte

“If mama isn’t happy, nobody is happy.” -Charlie Marken

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Couple Buying House For First Time Looking At House Survey In Room To Be Renovated
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Take advice from a wise contractor

“Be sure you and your spouse are on the same page. Don’t even start the remodel if you’re not. Trust me—if you can’t decide on things upfront when it’s calm, you certainly won’t be able to when the clock’s ticking, the workers are standing around, and the pressure’s really on!

“Know your budget. A fight over the remodeling budget was the biggest argument I ever saw, and there’s no way for the contractor to fix it.

“Make three lists: Must Have, Would Like If Possible, and Optional. Keep as much of List 1 as you can, because that’s why you’re remodeling. Keep 10 to 25 percent of List 2, depending on budget. Toss all of List 3.” -Paul Bianchini. Save money in big ways during your remodel with these 32 tips.

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Beautiful young couple in love having fun, painting walls of their new house, taking selfie with smart phone. Home makeover and renovation concept.
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Don’t forget to laugh

“We decided to strip and refinish our kitchen cabinets during a heatwave with 90-plus degree temperatures and 90 percent humidity in a house with no air conditioning. As the sweat was pouring down, and the fumes were burning our eyes and skin, I looked over at my wife and said, ‘This is more fun than sex!’ We both laughed and got back to work.” -Ed Stawicki

“What doesn’t cause you to divorce doing DIY projects, just gives you great stories to laugh about for years after.” -Jordan Van Moorleghem. And if you’re stressed after a home remodel, offset it with some of these things happy couples do after work.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman