How Not to Kill Your Spouse
I remember the first time that Darren wanted to build a greenhouse. The general construction seemed simple enough - greenhouse hoops put into the ground, connected with bars and covered by plastic. Easy. Done! Except I forgot one important fact: in order to put said greenhouse hoops into the ground, we would need holes. Some of you may be familiar with the wonderful soil composition...I mean rock composition we have here in Texas. Some areas are better than others of course, but folks, this is why there aren't really basements in Texas! Going to battle in order to dig a hole completely exhausts you and instantly decreases your desire to dig the intended holes, no matter how excited you are about your greenhouse or other project.
We thought we had a good idea to rent a two-man auger and get the job done lickidy-split! Genius - I know ;) We merrily unloaded this beast of a machine, carried/drug it to the backyard and began what we thought would be the quick process of drilling our holes. If you have never had the absolute joy and pleasure of operating a two-man auger, it is, in fact, the best couples therapy you will ever have! Yes, you will likely want to kill your spouse or significant other while doing said digging, but if you can push through, although your hands, arms, legs, feet, head and neck will be screaming at you to never to that again, you will be closer and better teammates than when you started.
Here is what we learned while struggling and then dominating the two-man auger to dig 14 holes for our first greenhouse:
1. Understand the environment that you are working in.
This may seem obvious and not worth pointing out, but believe me, when you are trying to drill a gigantic auger into practically solid rock at the end of Spring/beginning of Summer in Texas...it's important to remember that your spouse did not in fact order up a sweltering hot day from Mother Nature just to torture you. Nor did they humbly request for your backyard to be made of so much limestone that a quarry company would be interested in digging at your site. As tempting as it is to take all of the external and turn it on your significant other, they are dealing with it too. Complain with each other a bit...have a bitch fest if you have to, but don't spend too much time channeling that energy toward the negative as that simply will not help you accomplish the task and will make you the grumpiest gus and the snippiest snipper!
2. Do NOT set a time limit
If you're like me, you like to plan out your day. I do, in fact, go with the flow at times (working on this)...but I generally have a list of items that I'd like to accomplish on a given weekend. Side note: for those of you who may know me, or are reading my blog thinking I'm an uptight, crazy type A planner...well, you are mostly right...although uptight is a little harsh, don't you think? I do, in fact, plan time when I will simply "go with the flow" and some situations are better suited than others. Anyhoo, if you do the same, (I know I'm not the only one out there) you may find yourself wanting to pre-determine how much time the digging or project will take so you know what time you have left for your other items. This is a death trap! Construction, projects, digging, demolition: these words strictly forbid time frames. In fact, I'm pretty sure that they are beings/entities themselves and that they immediately say "F*** you!" if you even try to set a time frame in which to finish them. Due to this phenomenon, do NOT think that you will dig 14 holes from 8am-12 noon and then skip off into the sunset to accomplish your other desired tasks for the day. If you do this, you will become utterly pissed at your spouse that they roped you into this digging thing and now it's taking all day and you can't get anything else done and.......Like I said - don't do it! Just plan on it taking the whole weekend and maybe run into the following weekend. This way, if you finish in one grueling day of hard, intense labor, you can be stoked that you have a "free" day!...which will likely now be spend in a soaking tub followed by a nap :)
3. Understand each other's strength.
No, I did not mean strengths, although that is important too. I mean literally, understand that one of you may have significantly more strength/power/muscles/guns than the other. The crazy thing about a two-man auger is that it requires two people to properly operate the dang thing. Another crazy fact is that it can be operated by a man and a woman, instead of two men, as the name would suggest. Said man and woman may be physically capable and strong individuals as individuals, although different when compared to each other. The auger, little devil that it is, could freakin' care less. It doesn't give a hoot if your partner in this endeavor is not as strong as you are. It is a greedy bastard and demands equal pressure on both sides of the machine in order to drill straight down. This means that you have to understand your partner's strength. Do not flip out on them because they don't bench as much as you do...or maybe they bench significantly more...either way. Understand that the auger is the enemy, not your spouse, and you must combine forces and push equally on each side in order to make the damn thing dig straight down. This will likely mean that one person may be pushing with all their might and the other is holding back a bit, but each person is bringing valuable and necessary force to the equation. You need each other. Remember that.
4. Find mutual enemies.
Think about it as if you were a crime fighting duo, off to save the world. If you are at each other's throats, you will be worthless at saving the world. Instead, you must remember that your spouse is your partner (and you love them) and there are other enemies out there that the world needs saving from. For example, when digging in the Texas rock, the rock is in fact public enemy #1. If you both seek to destroy this enemy, no matter how many times the auger stops or how many hits you have to take with the pickax or cement breaker- you will conquer it! Also, keep in mind that hitting your spouse with a pickax is not highly recommended, so it's important to channel your rage on the rock enemy instead.
5. Celebrate successes.
We found that each and every hole we dug had a different problem. One even had a gigantic rock that took two hours to dig out since it wouldn't break. While it is incredibly easy to get frustrated at each other while dealing with the problems, remember to celebrate the successes even more to balance out that energy. You may yell at each other, it's bound to happen, but balance that with hugs and celebration. As we broke through the final layer of rock on each hole, an amazingly dark substance began to come up through the auger spins. No, we had not struck oil. But we might as well have as what we dubbed "black gold" was our sign that we had successfully conquered all the rock that hole had to offer and had reached the depth we needed for our greenhouse hoops. Pushing and breaking the rock was a nightmare, but as soon as that sweet, glorious "black gold" soil came up, our spirits were lifted and all was right with the world. High fives, hugs and water break are great ways to celebrate a success with your spouse...as it's those small celebrations that will pull you through. We started busting through holes just waiting for the "black gold" to appear again!
So, what we learned while digging those 14 ridiculously difficult holes for our first greenhouse is that we each bring something different to the table, and while some projects may focus on one person's strengths over the other's, that doesn't mean that the other is not valuable or that they are the one making it miserable. We have built many things since that first greenhouse, and little by little we have learned that we are each other's person. We are the one being who gets the other and knows each other's strengths. We also know each other's weaknesses and how we cope with stress. While construction, projects, digging and demolition are not for everyone, we have learned more about how to work together instead of against each other than any session on a therapist's couch. Not only do we get the benefit of understanding each other better, but we get a prize at the end...like a greenhouse!
Oh, and P.s.
If you've made it through several intense projects together and successfully not killed each other, know that if your spouse does, in fact, hit you with a pickax, it's most likely because they are tired or maybe that they want you to have a matching black thumb nail like them, but not that they want to kill you :)