Home Improvement - Relationship Humor
By Andrea Riley, Marriage Service Technician
Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, many of us who were deemed “non-essential” workers began spending far more time at home. This change in habit produced many unexpected results. Families are spending more time together at the dinner table. People are pursuing hobbies and starting businesses. Several of my friends planted gardens. And countless homeowners used the time to tackle those elusive home improvement projects and honey-do lists.
My husband, Cliff, is among those ranks. I observed him planning to undertake some much-needed household repairs. Please note that I use the term “planning” very loosely. Watching his approach reminded me of a paper I’d written a while back. The assignment was to compare and contrast two things. Years have passed since it was first written, but the concepts still ring true today.
Medical science has proven that men and women are wired differently. Many of these differences become apparent through their varying approaches to home improvement. I will submit my personal observations as further evidence of this fact.
Exhibit A: When there is an area in the home which needs to be addressed, a leaky faucet, for example, men usually take the approach, “If I ignore it long enough, maybe it will go away.” Men tend to be adept at zoning out - which can be quite handy when trying to deny a problem exists. Women, on the other hand, will become increasingly annoyed with his procrastination - drip by drip - until she starts thinking, “Doesn’t he hear that leak? Do I have to take care of everything around here myself?!?” Her agitation may eventually lead to a state of perpetual nagging that is as annoying to him as that dripping faucet is to her.
Exhibit B: Once the couple agrees to take on a project - let’s say they decide to remodel the kitchen - gender differences may manifest in a variety of ways. Women are more likely to prepare a long, detailed shopping list, with items organized according to the Home Depot’s aisle numbers. They want to pick up everything they need at once. Mind you, a thorough list may require several hours of internet research, an assortment of YouTube how-to videos, a Kitchen Remodeling for Dummies book, and multiple calls to friends who have remodeled their kitchens. Though the process is tedious, when she is done, the list will most certainly be “complete”. Men would never waste time on such a mamsy-pamsy activity. “Lists are for people who don’t know what they’re doing!” they’ll think. Their testosterone would kick in and convince them that their “mental list” will be their guide, as they make their way through the home improvement center. They will continue to hold to this belief, even after their 40th return trip to the store to make purchases for the same project. This is balanced out by the fact that depending upon the distance from the home to the store, a man could possibly have made 10-20 trips back and forth, in the same amount of time it takes the woman to compile her exhaustive list.
Exhibit C: Another illustration of their differing styles can be seen when a couple tackles a project that requires assembly. A woman may be inclined to open the box and view the 200 pieces enclosed and feel a bit overwhelmed. Her immediate response would be to look for the directions. To this, the man will reply, “Who needs instructions? I can figure this out.” He will then proceed by attempting to “conquer” this task. Upon realizing the instructions are missing, the woman’s next moves may look something like this:
She’ll look at her watch to calculate if there is enough time to rush back to Ikea.
Ignoring her husband’s comments that she’ll never make it in time, she’ll grab her receipt and make a mad dash to her car.
Halfway to the store, she’ll realize that her husband was correct about the lack of time, but she will not be dissuaded from her quest.
As she arrives in the parking lot, she’ll see the store lights go dim, but will not be denied. On the contrary, she will park next to the “exit only” sign and lay wait by the locked door, until it opens to let an unsuspecting customer out.
Once she gains entrance to the building, there is no stopping her. She will use any skill in her arsenal to convince some poor, fatigued, off-duty employee to assist her in locating a set of instructions.
To accomplish her mission, she may use any combination of the following: teary eyes; sob story; assertiveness training (after all it was a company error that caused the problem); flirting; or the old “Get the manager, 'cause I’m about to flip out” routine. For she will get what she wants by any means necessary.
After courteously thanking the manager and four staff members for staying 20 minutes past closing to help her, she will smugly proceed to her car and drive to the nearest McDonald’s for a celebratory milkshake.
When she is done the last slurp, she will then discard all evidence – cup, lid, straw, paper cover, napkins, and receipt.
When she arrives back home, directions in hand, her husband will likely say to her, “Look! I told you we didn’t need directions,” in a self-satisfied tone. “I’m almost finished putting it together.” Unbeknown to him, the doors were hung backward, the knobs are on the wrong side, and the shelves are upside down. The woman will proceed to use the instruction’s diagram to first, point out every mistake he’s made; and secondly, to justify why she spent the last hour (if she counts the chocolate detour) tracking them down. To this, the man will reply, “I think it looks better my way.”
For my closing argument, I will cite two additional examples of their differences between the genders that typically arise during the home improvement process:
Exhibit D: Left Over Parts. A man will rationalize these by saying, “They always give you extra screws in case you misplace some of them.” Meanwhile, the woman will spend the next years of her life with a secret fear that the whole thing may give way at any moment.
Exhibit E: Something doesn’t fit. A woman’s philosophy: “If it doesn’t fit, don’t force it, we might break it.” A man’s philosophy: “If it doesn’t fit, push it harder. If it breaks, we’ll go to Lowe’s and get another one.”
I rest my case.
These comparisons are based solely on generalizations and are intended to be humorous. The author acknowledges that not all members of either gender think or act alike. She further believes that their innate differences are by God’s design and are intended to complement one another.