Building and decorating a house should be, and can be, a really happy time in your life. But it can also be a time of stress. One of major sources of stress can come from having to make a number of decisions that both you and your partner have to agree upon. How do you design and decorate a home when you and your significant other have completely different styles? Even when people have very similar tastes, there will inevitably be some areas where one person’s first choice is different than their partner’s.
In this mini lesson, we’ll go over tips on how to compromise with your partner during the homebuilding journey. Not every suggestion will work in every single situation, but you should be able to find at least one or two tips on the list that will help you come to a compromise for almost every disagreement.
One the most important things to remember is that we’re not always right. You’re not always right. I’m not always right, and our partners are not always right. Even if we feel passionate about our specific choices, there are usually several ways to make a home functional, beautiful and interesting. And unless your partner has absolutely no interest in the budget or design of your house, you're going to have to make some compromises. Love and respect your significant other enough to acknowledge that their opinion is as legitimate and important, as your own opinion.
If you’re always locking horns with your partner in an effort to get your way, or trying to talk your partner out of their preferences, you're telling them, even if you don’t mean to, that their wants and needs are less important and worthwhile than yours. Be open to making choices that are acceptable to both you and your partner. To help us with this, let’s go over some tips that will make it easier for us to compromise with each other. That way, we can avoid as much decision-making stress and unpleasantness as possible, and we’ll end up with a house that both partners are happy with.
1. Don’t take your partner’s difference of opinion as a personal attack.
Opinions and tastes are developed because of natural inclinations, beliefs, experiences, exposures and wants and needs. And because we all think different and have different life experiences, it only makes sense that we’ll have divergent opinions and tastes, at least some of the time. It’s important to keep that in mind when you and your partner want different things.
If their opinion is different than yours, it usually isn’t because they are trying to hurt your feelings, or make you feel less valuable, or less intelligent than they are. Instead, their opinions and tastes have been shaped by who they are and what they’ve experienced. Both parties have an equal right to want what they want.
If your partner says they don’t like a lighting fixture you selected, it doesn’t mean they don’t like you. They can love you and not love every choice you make. Keep in mind that just because your partner is opposed to your opinion, doesn’t mean they are opposed to you. This is an important tip because It’s much easier to come to a compromise, if you don’t start with hurt feelings.
2. Follow the 80:20 rule.
I learned the 80:20 rule many years ago and at time I heard it, it was discussed in association with relationships. The 80:20 rule for relationships is that even in healthy, flourishing relationships, you almost never get 100% of what you want. But if the person gives you 80% of your wants and needs, then you should be willing and able to compromise on, or accept the less desirable 20%. "Compromise" meaning you should be willing to live with little annoyances and habits that demonstrate that your partner is an imperfect person. We all have imperfections, weaknesses, bad habits and issues that make us less than ideal people, so to expect your partner to be the person you want them to be 100% of the time is just not realistic.
The same can be applied to building your house together. If you’re happy with 80% of the choices in your home, you should deem that as a success. You don’t need your home to be 100% your style to enjoy it.
Let some rooms represent 80% of your style and 20% of your partner's style. Then reverse it, where some rooms are 80% your partner's style, and 20% yours. Appreciate each other enough to allow for some choices to reflect your partners wants and desires. If you absolutely hate something that your partner loves, then try to come up with a compromise that’s acceptable to you both. But remember, the house will be shared by the both of you, so everything in the house won’t necessarily your first choice. In both relationships and in your house building journey, try not to get so focused on the 20% that’s a little annoying, that you lose sight of the 80% that you completely love.
3. Think of the problem as your adversary, not your partner.
Join forces with your partner and tackle the problem or disagreement with an attitude of “we gonna beat this. This problem is no match for us when we put our heads together." And get rid of proclamations of some choices being fair and other choices unfair. What feels fair to one party might feel completely unfair to the other. What we want are solutions that feel somewhat fair, or at least acceptable, to both of you. The goal is not to make your partner feel bad, or to prove your partner wrong. Don’t be so quick to defend their own position that you don’t maintain curiosity and interest in the partner’s choices. It’s not just your house. Our goal should be to tackle the disagreement, not to tackle our partner. Be determined to come up with a comprise that will make you both feel happy and validated. And sometimes that compromise will be your yielding to your partners preference in order to keep the peace.
Speaking of keeping the peace….
4. Pick your battles.
If you vocally disagree with most of your partner's choices, you won’t be heard when it really matters. Take a step back from the situation and ask yourself if the issue or feature will really matter in the long run. If that feature will significantly add to, or take away from your experience in your home. If not, consider letting it go.
If your partner is dead set on an arm chair that’s not your favorite because it’s not very comfortable, let them choose the air chair, knowing that you can choose an extra comfortable sofa. That arm chair should neither make nor break your experience in your home since you can avoid sitting in the arm chair and choose instead to sit on your comfortable sofa.
We can’t go to war over every little decision because we’ll never have any peace. Think about those things in your house that are most important to you and respectfully “fight” for those things. But let other things go by deferring to your partners opinion. For example, my husband doesn’t like a lot of exterior doors. I would like to have an extra exterior entry door to go from the garage to the outdoors because I don’t particularly want to raise the garage door every time we exit the garage. But it wasn’t a feature important enough for me to go to battle about. Opening the garage door every time I want to walk out of the garage isn’t ideal, but it’s also not a big deal. In that case, his choice prevailed. No entry door in the garage.
5. Be careful when compromising about the budget.
Tweaking the budget a bit might be okay and cause very little stress in your relationship. But convincing your partner to make significant increases to the budget could cause long term problems in your relationship and for your day-to-day living and your future goals.
Dave Ramsey recommends that your monthly mortgage payment be 25% or less of your take-home pay. And that 25% figure should include property taxes and insurance.
Dave says he’s trying to keep us from being house poor, where our house payment is so large that we don’t have money to put towards other things like unplanned emergencies, vacations, savings, or charitable donations. Many of us can qualify for a house payment that’s close to half of our take-home pay, but Dave Ramsey’s advice is to avoid borrowing that much money for our homes. His conservative recommendation will allow us to live comfortably and avoid the stress of living pay check to paycheck.
6. Make a list, and check it twice.
Both you and your partner should make a list of your top 10 must-have features, along with your top 10 must-avoid features for the home. List the features in order of importance, so you and your partner understand which features you desire and dislike most. Make the lists separately, independently of each other. Then compare and discuss the lists.
If one of your must-have features shows up on your partner’s must-avoid list, you know you’ll have quite a bit of compromising to do with that particular feature. Start early in the design process looking for a compromise. Search photos in Houzz, Pinterest, Instagram or in magazines, looking for features that are acceptable to you both. Don’t wait until the last minute to make decisions about those must-have and must-avoid features that you need to compromise on.
To take it a step further, each of you can make a fantasy list of all of the features you really want, but don’t really need, in the house. Keep in mind the 3 F’s of design— the Function, Focal point and the Feeling you want the room or house to evoke. See what features on your fantasy lists you have in common and use those things to help inform your designs. To learn more about the 3 F’s of design, listen to episodes 203 called Your Home’s Interior Design— What to Do and Where to Start.
7. Allow for 3-5 vetos each.
There are certain things that you and partner will choose that the other person absolutely hates. For things that completely horrify you, you can exercise your veto power to reject that choice. Only rarely should you be unable to come to a compromise, but for those cases, each of you gets 3-5 opportunities to veto your partners selection. Try hard to come to a compromise first, because you’ll use up your 3-5 vetos fairly quickly if you’re not willing to take the time and effort to compromise on most disagreements.
So those were the first of our tips to help you compromise with your partner. We’ll go over the rest of the list in the next episode in a couple of weeks. Don’t forget to subscribe to the show so new episodes will be added to your podcast library or inbox as soon as they are available. And if you’ve just stumbled upon the podcast/blog, and find it helpful and want to hear more, subscribing will alleviate the need for you to recall the name of the podcast/blog and the time of release. Just hit the subscribe button and that will be one less thing you’ll have to remember.
Please remember that the purpose of this podcast is simply to educate and inform. It is not a substitute for professional advice. The information that you hear is based the only on the opinions, research and experiences of my guests and myself. That information might be incomplete and it’s subject to change, so it may not apply to your project. In addition, building codes and requirements vary from region to region, so always consult a professional about specific recommendations for your home.
Thanks for stopping by. I hope you learned as much as I did.