The four Rs

It was too hot to sit on the concrete patio. The back of the house was melting in the summer sun and it wasn’t even noon yet.

Gathering the table and chairs to the back of the yard, under the shade of trees, with cool grass for carpet, the Carpenter and I sat there enjoying our morning coffee.

But the view of the back of our house eventually prompted one of those difficult couple conversations around the four Rs: renovations, real estate, retirement and reality. We were going to need more coffee.

When you look at your home from a different perspective you see all the flaws and the expensive fixes. The roof needs repair. The windows need to be replaced. The sliding doors too. The siding in the back no longer matches the colour in the front. There is no shade on the back of the house and we don’t have air conditioning. Fun stuff like that. It was time for “the talk.”

We discussed long-range plans for the four Rs – and by discussing, I mean the Carpenter told me what he saw as the vision for our future. Clearly, he had given this a great deal of inward thought. I learned a lot about our future. For instance, we are never moving. Ever. This money pit of a house is our forever deficit. Excellent. That is until he wins the lottery, at which time the Carpenter can afford his parcel of land far away from society. I’m invited but I can’t just talk to him whenever I want to. By appointment only. Deal.

There is a two-storey addition on the horizon, complete with a garage expansion. The Carpenter needs workshop space for all the tools to do the renovation, of course. That’s how we’ll save money. Naturally. His future looks bright. To his credit, he had given a lot of thought to adding doors out to a giant deck that would bring shade to the back of the house, while increasing our privacy and adding storage. Smart. He walked along the back of the house to show me visually what this would all look like. Yep, he had a plan. Impressive. When I mentioned how the new sliding doors would benefit my dream kitchen makeover though, he winced. That is a long-range plan. Emphasis on long.  (That is code for “not happening” for you engaged people who still believe marriage is compromise.)

It’s a good thing I’ve learned not to be insulted for not being consulted. When the Carpenter gets an idea in his head, he needs to see it through, on his time and schedule. He is who he is. I am quite fond of who he is, so I don’t get flustered. I am who I am. Still, it’s important to have these conversations often. Where will we be in ten or 20 years? What is our retirement plan? Where will the pool boy sleep? Wait. Where is the pool going to go?

Basically, in about 20 years, we will have the house we want, the space we need and the Carpenter will spend his retirement in the garage. Then, in another 50 years, we can pay for it all. (Side bar: I won’t have a pension. I am working forever. That is the reality portion of this discussion.)

Believe it or not, this conversation made me feel better. It’s good to be on the same page. Or like, at least be a bookmark on his page. Whatever. We’ll get there eventually. Together.


Kelly Waterhouse