All I wanted was a deck.
With our income tax refund safety tucked in our savings account, this past spring my husband and I discussed replacing the redneck porch with a deck built of treated lumber and large enough to accommodate family cookouts. We discussed size and even staked out the dimensions. A friend, using computer software, drew up the blueprints.
Then we got into a discussion about the roof.
In order to fully enjoy the deck, Dean said, we’d have to have a roof over it, and the slope of the roof had to be steep enough to allow melting snow and rain to run off. Any slope less than—I think he said four/twelfths—would cause ice to back up under the eaves and damage the roof. And, for the size of the deck we were considering, the deck roof would have to extend to the peak of the house roof.
“I don’t think that’ll look right,” he said.
“What’s wrong with the slope of the porch roof we have on now?” I asked.
Let me give you a little background here. Our back porch is called the redneck porch because it’s built of castoff pallets my husband dragged home from work. It’s actually our second redneck porch because pallets aren’t made to endure these northern winters. The roof, what Dean calls a “shed roof,” is made of the corrugated green plastic sheets his mother used as a windbreak on her back porch, and is held up with pillars made from a couple of trees from our woods.
The roof discussion soon trumped the deck discussion.
“I’d like to put a roof on the house before we build the deck,” Dean said at the turning point (where the discussion turns into an argument), citing the age and condition of the brown rolled roofing that has covered our heads for the past 26 years.
Last fall, Dean smeared tarry black goo over the back roof, which for some reason shows more signs of roof fatigue than the front. So now the roof on the front of the house is brown and the roof on the back is black. But I digress.
Wanting to be a good wife and not argue, I pulled out the latest Consumer Reports magazine, which coincidentally (or fatally, depending on how you look at it) featured different types of roofing. We couldn’t decide on shingles (my vote) or metal roofing (his preference), so we estimated the cost of both—way more than the meager amount we had in savings.
“So let’s build the deck,” I said, closing the magazine.
“But I want a roof over the deck,” he said, “and if we’re going to put a roof over the deck, I want to replace the house roof at the same time.”
This is called an impasse.
“All I want is a deck!” I said, close to boiling point and a decibel under “yell.” “Can’t anything be simple? Why do you always have to complicate things? Oh, I know—you really don’t want to build the deck, so you sabotage the plan. You always do that.”
The atmosphere in the house was frosty for a week or so—until God nudged me. Dean was right. The deck was a want; a new roof was a need.
For me it was still another lesson in the husband-wife relationship—specifically, who wears the pants in the family.
I’ve been spoiled—Dean usually lets me have my way. But there are times he disagrees with me. He doesn’t lord it over me, doesn’t cite the well-worn scripture about the wife submitting to the husband, doesn’t demand his own way. He simply states his case and his reasons.
“Woman is not independent of man,” Paul wrote, “and man is not independent of woman” (1 Corinthians 11:11 NIV).
Who wears the pants? We both do—he wears one leg and I wear the other. And, like a three-legged foot race, we stumble and sometimes tumble until we get in sync with each other.
Turns out we got neither deck nor roof. Our daughter came home with her family for three weeks in June, and there went the money. But we do have enough for another can of roof coating, though.
Dear God, when Dean and I disagree, remind me that our relationship trumps over whatever it is we’re arguing about. Remind me that a home built with love is the home that endures the seasons of life. Amen.
Special-Tea: 1 Corinthians 11:2–16