98: Do-It-Myself

98: Do-It-Myself

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home


A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.

~Ruth Bell Graham

I knew I wasn’t marrying a do-it-yourself kind of guy, but that was okay. When we got married I couldn’t do some things too. I couldn’t iron a man’s shirt or cook a great steak. I assumed that when I married my husband both he and I would learn how to do things that we had never done before, and the best part was that we would learn together. We would grow as a couple. We would grow with each other, for each other.

Part of the deal was that he was in charge of the tools — tools like a screwdriver, not a Cuisinart. And because I was so thoughtful, I went to The Home Depot and bought him an electric screwdriver so his wrist wouldn’t get tired when he worked around our new house. Like, for example, when he needed to hang the new curtains and curtain rod I had just bought for the dining room.

When I brought the screwdriver home and tried it out I realized how lucky he was. Learning how to cook had nothing on plugging in the electric screwdriver, squeezing the trigger, and feeling the power.

I mentioned to him that evening that everything was ready. His part of the deal was on deck. How about next weekend, I suggested?

“Uh, okay,” he said.

That weekend came and went. And the next one. And the one after that. There were no curtains hung. There was no initiative. There was no appreciation for the new screwdriver. So although I began with gentle reminders, I realized that gentleness was over-rated.

The next Saturday I found my husband halfway up the stepladder, staring at the wall, armed with the screwdriver in his right hand and a screw in his left.

“How’s it going,” I asked cheerfully.

“Well, honey,” he replied, taking a deep breath. “I’m not so sure.”

I peered around his body to find a three-inch hole where the screw was supposed to go. I could see the pink insulation peeking out from inside the wall. He saw me looking at the insulation.

“I’m not really sure what happened,” he explained.

He wasn’t really sure what had happened? He had put a hole the size of a tennis ball into our dining room wall.

To my credit I remained silent. I turned around and walked into another room to think. Otherwise I might have ended up in prison for killing my spouse.

It was all wrong! How could it have gone so wrong? How could he not be able to hang a curtain rod? What did this mean for us? For our marriage? For our future? Could we not work together? After a few minutes alone I had talked myself out of divorce court. I realized that hiring a handyman really wouldn’t be so bad. It wouldn’t be that expensive… And that, yes, our marriage quite possibly might make it.

I came back into the dining room and told my hangdog husband that it was all right. I knew that he had done his best, and that I could find someone to fix the hole. He appeared quite relieved.

Two days later, while I watched a handyman fix up the hole and hang the curtain in a jiffy, I realized that some people are just better at some things than others. How could I expect my husband to do something he wasn’t very skilled, nor practiced, at doing?

And then, I actually felt a little bad. In the time we were married I still hadn’t managed to cook him a steak the way he likes it, nor had I ever agreed to iron his shirts.

~Jennifer Quasha

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