The Shop’n’Fight Sydrome

At first I thought it was just my wife. I would think: Why does shopping for kitchen tiles turn into a big fight?!? Then I’d think maybe it was us. Maybe our marriage can’t handle the stress of kitchen design.  Maybe it’s me! Maybe I am truly loathsome and don’t care about kitchen decor. I mean really! When we are camping – a thing we truly both enjoy – the fireplace rocks don’t match. Or line up… or have colour matching grout.

When we were building our house-on-the-prairie, I assumed the position of project manager, but gave veto rights for certain areas of the house to my wife.

  • The kitchen
  • The bathrooms
  • The lighting
  • All paint and window treatments

When planning any renovation or building you sometimes have to know what the last step will be before you can make the first step. I’ll give an example: Any light fixture has to be positioned in the room before the room is boarded with drywall. The wiring and the wiring box for the light go in long before the room is finished. Sometimes deciding where the light should go is simple (i.e. centered over the bathroom sink) but other times there are options (in the wall, or on the ceiling).

So picture this: I go to the “Lighting manager” of our homestead building, my wife, and ask “where do you want the light for the entry hall to be?” I ask
“I don’t know” she says, ” I haven’t been shopping for lights yet. I thought we had months until the light fixtures were installed. There isn’t even drywall up. I can’t tell until I see the room with walls.”
“Well, let’s go shopping for lighting.” I say, trying to be helpful.

At the store, my wife picks out a hanging light fixture that wouldn’t even clear the door swinging open.
“I like this one.” She says
“No.” I shake my head “That won’t work”
“How about this one.” She says, pointing to another one, even bigger.
“That’s way too big” I moan “But, hey, what about that one over there. The chrome one with black shades! Yah”
“That’s UGLY!” I’m not getting that one and my artistic pride is hurt, but I also have to explain the limitations of her choices as well. We end up fighting in the store.

Sometimes we would argue in front of the the hired tradesmen. Their insight would often bring about a quick solution to our concern, but other times they just quietly walked backwards towards their truck. Instant agreements were common too, which momentary stunned both of us each time it happened. We bought the hardwood floor before we started framing. We saw it, we agreed, we bought it. Simple.

As the progress of the house wore on, the fibers of our nerves wore out. The amount of decisions we had to make together was overwhelming. Often one of us would just say “I don’t care”. Both of us bought, and returned items for our home only after coming to the understanding of why they were not suited for the design.

Of course hindsight shows us that some of the things that we fought so hard to have our way, turned out to be so insignificant that I often use the expression “Sad once, funny now”. We talked and talked about what kind of railing to put on the veranda only to realize that we didn’t need one (the deck isn’t that far off the ground) and now we like NOT having a railing.

More recently I was on a job site as the contractor and the husband and wife team explained that they still had not purchased the vanity for me to install.
“We couldn’t…um, ah, well… agree on which one to get.” she confessed “My husband thinks my choice won’t fit and I don’t like his choice of colour.”
I had a huge grin on my face.
“Oh, the shop’n’fight. I understand.” I say