In most marriages there are incidents that occur that are situations where the relationship is at stake – a moment of truth. Such an incident happened during the preparation of my 65th birthday party. This celebration was going to be held at and feature our house and back yard, which I’d worked on for the past 15 years.
The invitations were sent, the music was arranged, the food was prepared, everything was set. The party was scheduled on the summer solstice, to be held in the back yard weather permitting. But, I felt there was something missing. We needed something extraordinary to make the party truly memorable. What to do?
In my creative meanderings I came upon the idea of building an above ground tunnel from our front gate to the back yard where the party was to be held. Everyone attending the party would enter through this labyrinth and wind up in the heart of the festivities. I was very excited because I knew this structure would make the party one-of-a-kind, one that would be remembered for a long time.
I had told my wife about the idea. She said neither yes nor no to the idea. I took this for a yes. So I proceeded to buy the necessary material to build the tunnel and arranged for the carpenter to come and help me build it. I calculated that it would take three evenings of work to complete. In preparation for the construction, I prefabricated many of the parts so the assembly would be quick and easy.
We began the construction on a Tuesday evening and had planned to work every night until the ‘tunnel’ was completed in time for the Saturday party. We were about two hours into our work when my wife came out into the yard and said “Stop building this crazy tunnel or the party is off!” My carpenter and I stood there shocked. He quietly left and said he’d call me tomorrow. After he left, I tried to convince my wife that this would be the highlight of the party. She disagreed nothing I said would change her mind. I realized, if I continued to build the tunnel, it could actually put my marriage into jeopardy.
The next day I phoned my carpenter to cancel the project and dismantled what we had begun. The party proceeded on Saturday, the weather was fine, and the party was a hit. But, to this day I always wondered what a splash this tunnel would have made.
I dream that one day, I’ll get to realize this project!
On this occasion, this architect’s design experiment was far too much for his wife. For me it was an experiment with design, with impact, with space, with drama and much more. To my wife it was an embarrassment. The tunnel was not built and indeed our marriage was saved. Over the years, many disagreements between architect and the spouse have occurred over house and garden design. By working together and compromising with each other, our marriage has lasted almost 22 years.
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Author: The E-Myth Architect
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