My house is not selling as quickly as I’d hoped. I’m fairly certain it is just overpriced and will sell as soon as we drop the price. Others think I need to spend some money on repairs to get it to sell.
Yesterday my cousin, who did most of the repairs in the house this past fall, suggested I borrow $5,000 to get a wall fixed in my kitchen. It’s a large wall and because of a leak & bad taping/spackling, it has cracks. He commented that I would easily get an additional $10k back for my investment of $5K. I didn’t say it at the time but all I could think was “no, I’ll get part of that, and my shithead ex will get part”.
I’ve been taking care of the house alone for almost 3 years now. While my ex has been partying and vacationing with his new GF I’ve been spending my money and time on plumbers, new doors, landscaping, etc. My cousins also put a tremendous amount of work into this house. Guess who hasn’t put any work in? Yup, the co-owner, my asshole ex.
So the question is am I being practical or petulant? I think I’m making the right decision, not spending any more of my money on what may or may not be a profitable endeavor. I can’t help wondering though if I’m simply being petulant, just like my ex was when he left with nothing but his clothes; a child having a tantrum, taking his toys and running away.
I happened to be talking to my cousin at a flip he’s working on when he suggested I spend money to fix that wall. This flip he’s working on is the product of a divorce. The couple who owned the townhouse he’s flipping walked away two years ago. Both moved out and refused to have anything to do with the other or the home. As a result they owed 2 years of taxes and home owner association fees. In addition, the inside of the house was trashed due to neglect. This couple lost every penny they’d put into this home and ended up owing money, even after my cousin (with his wife) purchased it. This couples neglect will be a windfall for my cousins.
I understand how they got there. I understand how anger can consume all sense of logic and create unnecessary chaos. This was the state of my entire marriage: chaos and anger wiping out all rational thoughts. Here’s how this happened.
My ex did a lot of work in our house. He is very handy, and willing to tackle a variety of home improvement projects, especially ones that made others envious. I’m sure if you were to ask him about this he would say “I did all the work making that house was it is, I’ve done more than my fair share and it’s time for her to step up”. This is his thought process.
In his mind I played no part in the renovation of our houses. It’s easy for him to deny my contributions, because I have no visible proof of the role I played. It is true, I never hung a cabinet, put in flooring, tiled a shower. The things people rave about were all done by him. He couldn’t have done any of those things though without me. I was the designer, the purchaser and the maid/babysitter for years, while he showed off his home improvement skills. And yes, I’m pissed. I wouldn’t be if, when people raved at how great our new kitchen is, he said “I couldn’t have done it without her”. Instead, he accepted sole kudos, even looking to me to substantiate that he was the sole contributor to the project.
We renovated 2 houses during our marriage. In both houses I did all of the design and purchasing. I worked really hard redesigning spaces, choosing tiles and floors, picking colors, and buying everything on an extremely limited budget. And I did all of this while sick yet also taking care of our children, keeping the laundry done and the fridge stocked, and everything else that goes into keeping a home running.
When I gave birth to our 1st child he took a week off from work. I thought it was to help me with the baby. Instead he spent the entire week in our basement that he was finishing. Anytime I mentioned that I could use some help with our colicky newborn he said “well you can’t have everything. do you want help with the baby or a finished basement?”
What I really wanted was to hire an outside contractor to do the renovations, so that I could have a spouse participating in our family. That was out of the question, because he would never let someone else take the credit for a highly visible renovation project. (He did come up with money to pay someone else to upgrade the electric panel, because it isn’t the type of thing others rave about)
When others raved about how lucky I was to have such a handy spouse I wondered what was wrong with me that I didn’t feel the same way. All I felt was tired, stressed, ignored and angry. While he was getting raves about “his work”, I was getting more messes to clean up and more time alone with the children. This became such an issue in our marriage, with him believing he was everything and I a mere peasant, that he really shit on me. The most obvious example I have of this is the chain on a ceiling fan. The chain needed to be extended. I went to the store and got the chain and the new pull. I could have taken care of it myself, but he insisted on doing it. He put on the additional chain and then cut it to ensure it wasn’t too long. When he was done he walked away and left on the floor the cut chain, the packaging, all of the tools he had used and the ladder he stood on. I wish I had taken a picture, because this was the most concise, clear example I have of his disregard for me, and his over inflated sense of his own worth. He was to be admired for his work, I was to clean up after him.
Yes, I did the reap the benefits of his work. But he reaped the benefits of my work – work that when unnoticed and unrecognized. In keeping with the thought process of a narcissist, all that mattered was what he accomplished. Not only was that all that mattered, he martyred himself to achieve everything he did; he and he alone. This was his stance in our businesses and every other aspect of our relationship: he was imperative to our families sucess, I was replaceable.
So am I feeling petulant? Yup. And I’m not going to apologize for it.
PS: Last I checked designers got paid more than contractor’s, right?