“We need to sell this house.”
It was not a question. It was a statement. And when Cowboy said it, I could not have been more enthusiastic or genuine in my reply. “Yes! Yes we do.”
Two years prior we’d walked through these doors together and devised a shared dream. This huge and dated house was an unstated symbol of what we would build together. But at that particular life juncture, we were still carefully stitching together our blended families, finding our way as a newly married couple (and when you’re both in your forties, set in your ways and definitive about “this is the way things are” – that is much easier said than done). Case in point: “Why are you sleeping in so late?” “Oh yeah? Why are you getting up so damn early?” “Why don’t you ever rinse a dish?” “Why don’t you ever make a bed?”
We were still dancing the dance of compromise and stepping on each other’s toes. A lot.
Throw an endless list of River House improvement projects on that pile of reality (plus we flipped a second property at the same time. For real? Real.) All the while Cowboy was in the first year of a family business and I took a demanding sales job that required a lot of travel.
I believe our photographs may have been next to the word stress in Webster.
On top of all of that our daughters were in the throes of adolescence. Hormones, depression, anxiety. I’m ugly. I’m fat. I don’t fit in. I hate you. I love you. I’m sad. I’m happy. I’m all over the place.
But still we kept on keeping on. Paint this wall. Fix this floor. Spend an entire weekend ripping nails out of the 110 year old wood floor at the flip house. Then come home and build a vanity countertop at The River House. Oh and by the way? I need to get on three planes this week for work. So can you hold everything together until I get back? Someone needs to buy some milk, fold the laundry, referee the kids and feed the pets. And that someone is you.
Two independent people. Two over achievers. Two gregarious and outspoken souls. And it was all too much. Just too much. No one had an affair. No one became an alcoholic and gambled away the mortgage.
We were just a time bomb made up of little things. And bombs usually only do one thing: explode.
And last summer it happened. Cowboy and I separated. And I filed for divorce.
We were over. Our fairy tale shattered. Glass was all over the floor of our dreams. And we both cut ourselves on the shards. And then picked them up and hurled them at each other.
YOU did this!
No YOU did.
After four months of strife, confusion and mutual heartbreak we actually did the unthinkable. We reconciled. And part of that reconciliation involved making some severe life changes. And one of the most visible to the spectators on the perimeter of our lives was pulling up stakes, packing up, and moving on out. This wagon train had been camped long enough on the shores of fixer upper land.
For the very definition of what a beautiful home is has absolutely nothing to do with accent pieces, color schemes and design. It is about family. It is about love and respect, kindness and compassion, forgiveness and patience. Those are the things that make a home beautiful. Those are the components that you spend the most time carefully placing within the walls and the pieces that matter the most.
And so, through our shared faith in Jesus Christ, we found a path that led us back to each other, and put us on a road paved with grace. We were going to build something better this time around. A new marriage. A new life. A new home. We were going to do a redesign project and embark on our biggest fixer upper to date.
And so it was decided. We would not live in The River House long enough to replace that second floor pink carpet, build a porch swing or landscape this 1.5 acre lot. Together, we put a stake in the ground next to that river and said, “Good enough!” We surrendered. The house was the song that never ends. It just went on and on, my friend. And so the for sale sign went up. And we put the earnest money down. On a new house. A smaller house. A more “done” house. A house where we can make our mark without breaking the bank (or ourselves).
And on April 18, 2016, we did just that.
We left The River House behind for good. And started our new life in our new home.
Of course, Cowboy and I will continue to design and change and improve our new home (it’s what we do! And, of course, I’ll document the creative process and results here on this blog as always) – but we’ll be doing it at a slower pace. And as a team. For we’re truly partners on this journey and companions in this life. And no home improvement project will ever again take precedence over our marriage. Our next project together as a married and committed couple is far more beautiful than anything we could ever hope to construct of wood, paint and décor.
For what we’re building now.
Peace, Joy and Blessings,
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
<My dearest Matthew . . . thank you for your blessing to post this. Love you always, love you more. ~ Audra> “Where you go I will go. Where you stay, I will stay.” Ruth 1:16