When XH and I separated last year, one of my biggest fears was being a single girl living all alone in a older house. The Little House was built in 1923. It’s in good shape but sometimes things go wrong in an older house. In the 20 years that we had lived in the house, Ex-Hubby had done all the home improvement projects – plumbing, painting, repairs, remodeling. He had determined early in our relationship that I wasn’t “handy” and he didn’t have the patience or the desire to teach me how to do any of that kind of stuff. Me being me . . . I didn’t question this.
When Prince Charming was here in November, somehow the conversation came to how the bathtub stopper thing wasn’t working and he taught me how to fix it! It took less than a half hour, the part cost probably $10. It wasn’t hard to do. It was wonderful feeling to know that I really could do the single girl living alone in an old house thing.
As excited as I was to have this new found knowledge, it got me to thinking . . . if it was so easy to do, why didn’t (ex now but at the time) Hubby fix it? The stopper thing hadn’t worked correctly for a couple of years and when I told him about it, he said it was too complicated for him to fix. He told me to go to the hardware store and buy a rubber stopper thing to put over the drain to keep the water in the tub. Not knowing any better (and not having any reason to doubt his advice), that’s exactly what I did. As I sat there in the bathroom with Prince Charming after fixing the tub, the little doubts about Ex-Hubby’s home maintenance skills started creeping in. Did he really not know how to do it or did he just not want to do it? We had a shower in the basement that we use most of the time. The tub was only used if I needed to soak something or wash the dogs. I’ve probably only used the tub three times since I fixed the stopper. But nonetheless, it was a little unsettling to think that Hubby would choose not to do something because he didn’t think it was important.
Almost as soon as Prince Charming moved in, I started a “Honey Do” list of things that I wanted to change/fix/repair here at The Little House. I’ve explained each project and his answer to each task is “okay, honey. let me check it out and I’ll tell you what we need to do.” Prince Charming has told me that he has lots of experience in working in old houses and Prince Charming’s Dad has verified that experience and has offered to help with some of the projects. I know about Prince Charming’s Dad’s experience. He’s was the “go-to” guy for the Community Involvement Group in the Little Place Where I Grew Up. My Mom drafted all of us kids to help work events for the committee so I’ve seen Prince Charming’s Dad at work! Since I don’t have a whole lot of experience, I have to take Prince Charming’s experience on faith. Just like I did with XH. Gotta admit it’s a bit of a scary feeling to know that I don’t know enough to tell if I’m being fed a line of bullshit again.
So Prince Charming has reviewed the “Honey Do” list and he’s told me what we need to do for each project. He’s also asked me questions about why things were done a certain way. My usual answer is “I don’t know. He always did that kind of stuff and I didn’t have any input.” Prince Charming’s usual response to that is to fold his arms, look at the ground, and shake his head. Evidently, XH’s skills weren’t all that . . . and it appears that XH was the king of the shortcut . . . get it done cheap/quick instead of get it done right. Every project that Prince Charming and I are planning will involve some amount of repair to what XH put in before we can make the changes we want to make. It’s been completely unnerving to hear what was done wrong, what shortcuts were taken, how simple/cheap it would have been to do it correctly. It makes me angry. It makes me sad. It makes me weary. I thought XH loved The Little House as much as I did but I guess I was wrong. He didn’t think enough of The Little House (where he lived for 20 years!) to take care of her correctly. He didn’t think enough of me to take better care of my beautiful little dream house. Gotta tell ya, that realization took my breath away and made me cry like a baby.
So Prince Charming is teaching me. About home repair – he’s giving me the skills I need to be able to help him properly take care of The Little House. About trust in a relationship – his trust that I have the desire and the willingness to learn what he is teaching me and my trust that he cares enough about me and The Little House to do the projects the way they need to be done. About letting go – I have to let go of my anger towards XH over this . . . XH’s lack of concern is just another sign that he was just as unhappy in the marriage as I was.