The great thing about houses is how they, generally speaking, stay the way you make them. You paint a wall green, it doesn’t, two days later, decide it would rather be blue-gray and pout about the difference. You decide to change out the bathroom, and manage to find and call in a competent contractor and, presto change-o, you have a toilet that flushes without leaking, a shower that features both hot and cold running water and a light over the medicine cabinet that highlights what remains of those oft-remarked-upon dimples.

Perhaps this is one reason why my relationships with my homes have been so much more successful than my relationships with significant others. It’s not the control, so much (though the ex-es might debate that point), as the dependability. Sure, that sage-green wall may fade to an unfortunate, Linda Blair’ish, pea-soup color, or the over-sink light may short out thanks to the leaking toilet above, but another coat of paint or a quick electrician visit can bring these wobbling elements back into alignment. People are just so much more complicated than that.

And what if you hit a point in your house love affair when things seem, somehow, just not quite right? You get that indefinable feeling one often tries simply to ignore in relationships with people, because dealing with people in these situations can be so darned prickly. In this case, you’ve tried to add a new spark to your house affair – painted your bedroom what you thought was the perfect periwinkle, rearranged all the furniture, hung new prints, bought new linens – but, still, you’re afraid something may be pulling the two of you apart, dulling your feelings for each other little by little, a day at a time.

Because you know your house isn’t going anywhere, though; isn’t going to decide it just needs some space, or more sessions with its therapist, you relax, give it time and just live… drink your morning coffee, handle your clients’ business, shake up your evening gimlet, try to make it through one more chapter of whatever it is you’re reading now before drifting off to sleep. With trust that your shelter will remain sheltering, you can allow the love to return on its own.

And then you wake up one morning and say to yourself as the early light hits the western wall, “What was I thinking? Yellow, that’s what this room needs is yellow!” And it’s done – rollers and paint pans later, it’s the same room, yet completely different – the same house, even, yet completely different.

“Wow, that was great,” you say, as you lay back in bed the next evening, spent from the furious expenditure of energy, and luxuriating in comfort of re-found bliss. “Why can’t relationships be that much fun?”

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