Friday, January 14, 2011

Building a Happy Home

Tomorrow, my brother and his lovely fiancee are getting married.  I spent a few minutes feeling a bit nostalgic, thinking back to the hours we spent playing Legos and kick-the-can, the concerts we performed in the living room, the forts we built in the backyard, his DJ skills on the way to school, the time he wore red shoes to prom...and pulled it off.  Obviously, I'm lucky to have the best brother in the world.

But before I got too weepy and mushy, I decided to think ahead to the happy home that they're building together.  I wondered, what advice would I give to them?  What things have I done to make my home a haven for myself, the husband, our friends and family?  What mistakes have I made that I'd urge them to avoid?  So, here's my list:
  1. Think first.  Speak second.  Unless it involved shoveling in a big piece of chocolate cake, I have often regretted opening my big mouth.  But I have never regretted holding my tongue.  
  2. Say, "Please."  Do you need help with something?  Maybe the laundry?  Instead of telling your partner, "I don't have any clean skivvies."  Try this: "Oh, wonderful love of my life, would you be so kind as to help me wash my underthings?"  Ok, maybe not that obsequiously, but you get my drift.  Asking nicely gets you much farther in life. 
  3. And, "Thank you."  Don't take your significant other/children/friends/family for granted.  What they bring to your life is immeasurable.  In addition to companionship, emotional support, blah, blah, blah, they probably take care of a host of tasks you don't think about on a daily basis.  Does your husband pay the bills when they come due?  Tell him you're thankful that he's in charge of on-line banking so you don't have to worry about it.  Does your mom sew the missing buttons onto your shirts every time she comes to your house?  Let her know you appreciate it.  Does your wife stay home with the kids so you can pursue a career you love?  Tell her how grateful you are for her contribution to the family.   
  4. It is NOT "my way or the highway."  Here's a real life example: I always put the silverware away in the same order in the cubbies of my flatware organizer.  First the big spoons, then small spoons, followed by big forks, small forks, and, finally, knives.  One day, the husband emptied the dishwasher, and he changed the order: big spoons, big forks, small spoons, small forks, knives.  I was flummoxed.  How could anyone think to put the silverware away in such a strange order?  Promptly, I re-arranged the drawer.  Later, I thought to myself, "Erin, you are a moron.  Your husband took the time to empty the dishwasher.  Who gives a rat's rear-end how he put the silverware away???"  Moral of the story: It just doesn't matter.  And also, I'm a little crazy about my utensils.
Wonderful readers, what advice do you have for those just starting to build their nest together?  I'd like to hear, and I'm sure all the newlyweds would, too.

And, to John and Emily, may your home be a joyful and peaceful respite for every person who walks through the door.  I love you guys!


  1. That is wonderful advice! Congrats to your brother!

  2. My advise would be to find a good mate who will be very good to you and then do what Tim Gunn says: "MAKE IT WORK, DESIGNERS!" And I add my congratulations and very best wishes to John and Emily! Love you both!