This is my first post in a series of lessons we’ve learned from mixing newlywed life with renovation life.
Throughout these reflections, let it be known that we have sincere gratitude for our home and the opportunity to renovate a fixer-upper. We sought this lifestyle, and we own that decision! While we are thankful for our story, we also recognize how we could have entered into the phase of “renovating newlyweds” more intentionally. That’s what the heart of these lessons is all about–intentional living. I’m choosing to share these reflections both as a reminder to myself and as an opportunity for others to potentially gain vicarious insight–without all the extra headaches!
Lesson #1: Maintain sacred space.
A place where you can be present, pause, and abide apart from work.
And I quote from my previous blog post,
“Our ceremony was simple, small, and sacred. We planned it in such a way that would enable us to feel most present.”
We lived into that value so wonderfully on our wedding day… but we overlooked it for much of our first year of marriage.
Just after our wedding, we merged our lives into one small bedroom in a cramped house with roommates–for what “should have been” a couple of weeks and turned out to be four months. That room was our one getaway for shared space together. But it wasn’t really a “getaway” at all. We both worked from home sometimes, and we often did so in that bedroom. (Sometimes that meant me skyping with a student, and sometimes that overlapped musicians practicing in the house. We obviously didn’t plan this whole Clancy situation out very well!) So this one small room became a sort of storage disaster, multipurpose work space, and the place where we were supposed to be able to unwind.
Then, after four months of married life with roommates at Clancy, we sort of moved into our new house. I say sort of because we moved ourselves from room to room, depending on what needed to be worked on when.
Throughout our time at Clancy and the many months of renovating our fixer-upper, we failed to maintain sacred space. We overlooked the importance of defining a physical space as a place to get away from it all–away from working from home, away from renovation tasks, away from contractors doing their jobs…
Mentally, no space in our home truly allowed us to leave the renovation to-do list behind. Not only that, but we still lacked a private space to make our own; we essentially shared the house with contractors coming in and out almost every day for many months.
Matt and I wholeheartedly agree that we would have seriously benefitted from renting an apartment of our own until most of the renovations were done. In retrospect, while budgeting for an apartment would have eaten into our limited renovation funds, we believe it would have been entirely worth it.
An apartment of our own would have allowed us to escape the chaotic world of renovation (during such an important transitional time in our relationship!). And let me tell you, renovation IS chaotic. Especially when it’s your own home, where you invest your time, energy, money, and emotion.
We wish we had given ourselves permission to live more as newlyweds and not so much as business partners, and we think an apartment would have encouraged that. Sacred space of any kind would have undoubtedly worked wonders. At the very least, we could have prioritized immediately completing one of the bedrooms as a space to check out of renovation mode.
But instead, we were immersed in demolition and remodeling and contractors coming and going and budgeting and re-budgeting and cutting costs by pouring ourselves into the labor…
We’d forgotten to invite ourselves to be present, to pause, and to abide apart from work.
If you are about to enter into marriage–and especially if you’re taking on a fixer upper together–I encourage you to define a sacred space to be present with each other, where nothing else can consume your attention; a space where you can both pause and take in what’s happening between the two of you in your new marriage; a space you can call home and abide in apart from work and renovation goals. Oh how I wish we’d maintained that for ourselves.
Lesson two, soon to follow!