Ok it’s true, building a new home or remodeling an existing one comes with its challenges. We view our homes as a safe place, somewhere to escape the busyness of our lives. When that haven is in limbo it can be truly stressful. Which in turn affects our relationships, which causes more stress and on and on …

Contributing to this stress is the reality that during the building and remodeling process a multitude of decisions need to be made. Those that concern product selection can be a sticking point between you and your partner.

When HomeOnTrack founder Janet owned her lighting showroom she witnessed this first hand. “Lovely couples who wouldn’t dream of arguing in public would get into a fight right on the showroom floor. I had clients tell me I was as much a marriage counselor for them as I was a lighting expert.”

So what are some ways to best avoid these decision conflicts?

Decide Roles, Then Stick to Them

It happened more than once when I was running my interior design business… one partner (let’s face it, usually the husband) would say, “I’m leaving all the decisions up to you honey,” or something of the like. But after a long day of making product selections and feeling good about the decisions, the partner would look at the samples and remark “That’s not tile for the kitchen, is it?” At the very least we’ve got some hurt feelings here. At its worst, an all-out war about the kitchen backsplash. Either way, not productive or fun.

So I found the best way to avoid this scenario is to decide what roles both of you are playing in the decision-making process and then do your very best to stick them. If you tell your partner they have free reign over the decisions, then try your best to have that be the case. Communicate clearly before the process begins how much input each of you wants in the decisions.

This swings the other way, as well. If you say you want to be a part of the decisions but not give any feedback or input, then you’re dropping the ball. Now these roles will naturally evolve throughout the project — just be sure to communicate with each other. Sounds like basic relationship stuff, I know, but relationship stress if often a part of the building and remodeling process that catches many off guard. It’s bound to happen — we just want you to be proactive about it.

Compromise, Compromise

Again, basic stuff, but be sure to use these general relationship skills during your project: Patience, Active Listening and Compromising. You’re creating this space together, and yes, it doesn’t get much more personal than that. Do your best to listen to your partners ideas. Be patient when they don’t exactly match your own and then compromise to find a selection you’re both happy with. Just as effective is the “we can choose that shower head you like if we get the farmhouse sink I want for the kitchen” approach. Either path will get you to the end result you both want — your beautiful, happy home.

Prepare Before You Go

Knowing what each of you wants and likes then discussing it before you’re in the lighting showroom will go a long way to avoiding a heated, public “discussion.” Take some time to do your homework. We all know there’s an abundance of inspiration avenues out there, from Houzz and Pinterest to HGTV and even the good old-fashioned magazine. And, of course, you can file your design selections in your HomeOnTrack software. Then you can access them on the go at the touch of a button! Remember, the more time you spend preparing, the smoother and more productive your appointment or shopping trip will be.

Again, it’s really back-to-basics relationship stuff. But it’s funny how the most basic skills seem to usually work the best. Enjoy your building process — both of you!

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