Yes, you can have your new space and your same spouse too!

In planning a project, it is possible that husbands and wives will have different ideas concerning almost any aspect of the scope, budget, and selections. If either of you are apprehensive about tackling a building project and keeping peace between you, there are strategies that will serve you well, and even make the process fun. Yes, fun, really.

First, set aside some time together to identify up front the topics on which you are likely to disagree based on past experience. Caution: Do not break out paper and pencil and list all this stuff—this is a liberating communication, not an exercise to commit potential conflicts to writing. The discussion at this point is of broad categories that affect choices or budgets. You are not trying to resolve differences or make a point of whose opinion is better. Once you have broached these subjects in a casual, lighthearted way, you will be better able to discuss your viewpoints during the project without feeling as stressed by your spouse having another perspective on some aspect of your plan.

During discussion of any topic, there will be some points that you both probably already agree on. It is useful to acknowledge and build on these opinions you hold in common before proceeding to the portions still to be ironed out. For instance, if you have differing opinions on color choices, a helpful way to establish common likes in color and texture for materials to be used is to pay a visit to your closet. What colors do you have in common in your clothing? What textures? Are there one or two neutral shades that dominate and can be used where appropriate inside and on the exterior? What color accents are present?

If your efforts to commit to choices, or even narrow down the range of what to include in your project is getting nowhere, help from design professionals is in order. Spouses absolutely need to avoid a winners and losers dynamic. Designers are good listeners and will be able to help sort through what is most important to each person, and offer alternatives you may not have considered that pull in elements from both of your perspectives.

Lastly, recognize that a building project is not part of your regular routine, so you will have to set aside some time periodically for discussions and decisions to keep your project moving toward conclusion. Whether you make all decisions together or split various aspects between you, it will require attention that you presently devote to something else. Again, knowing up front that extra time will be required will help to keep your energies up, and your interactions more harmonious. Plan, execute, and enjoy!