If you frequent this sailing blog, you may have perhaps noticed that we've accomplished a lot of Boat Projects on Kintala, most of which have been done together, and without much fighting. Two of these projects occupied the last few weeks on the boat, the mainsail cover (mine) and the ongoing bulkhead table project (Tim's). I was thinking about this whole issue because on both of these projects we sought the other person out to "help me walk this through", a phrase that seems to inhabit our married vocabulary a lot. The one doing the project will begin talking out the plan of whatever step is troubling, and bouncing ideas back and forth we come up with a revised plan that is always better than the original.
I believe the reason that too many couples find it difficult to work together is that they are married to their project, not their spouse. They have a plan that they feel is perfect already and any new ideas, being a threat, are soundly rejected even if they might be better. Tempers and hurt fly freely in this situation.
When Tim and I work together on a project, ideas are not puzzle pieces that come whole and fit into a certain spot - my piece then his, each maintaining their own integrity. They are springboards to new ideas - ideas that get blended and cut and twisted together into the final project, one made better by the infiltration of new creative thought by someone with a different way of seeing the same thing. I don't want to imply that we don't each own a project sometimes; we do. The V-drive replacement was his deal, the cushions and dodger mostly mine, the bulkhead table has been completely his, but all through each of these we needed help to form an elusive idea into a solid project. (Well, maybe not the V-drive...my contribution on that one was to stay far away in the clubhouse :)
The next time you find yourself deep in a project and are feeling a little...well...put off by someone's suggestions, stop yourself and listen. It might be just the spit and polish your project needs.