Daily Archives: June 2, 2011

You don’t really need what you think you need: An ode to Dad and Husband and learning important stuff to make marriage work

Growing up, I had one of those dads who can fix anything.  ANYTHING.  From computers, to vehicles large and small, to plumbing repairs and appliances, nothing that needed repair was too difficult for him.

He even did stuff like building what we called “The Fort”, which was a 6-foot by 6-foot structure whose floor was elevated 9 feet in the air, in the back yard of my childhood home.  It was accessed by a rope ladder and a trapdoor, and had a swing underneath.  I had some slightly scary but memorable sleepovers up in The Fort, sometimes with friends, and sometimes by myself.

He did some home repair to some drywall, and I’m not sure if he couldn’t quite get the knack of skip-trowelling for texture or what, so he created a new way to texture interior walls:  He would take a very large plaster brush and make small, stippled peaks of plaster all over the wall.  When dry, he would sand down the peaks, leaving a really unusual, attractive texture.  I’ve never seen it anywhere other than that house on Campo Bello Drive.

Imagine my surprise, when, a little more than a year into our marriage, in our first home, my husband said, “You’d better call somebody” when I told him that our ancient flat-surfaced stove had gone bad.  Wha…??  Call somebody?  What did he mean?  He was The Dad of the family, even if we didn’t yet have children.  He was the “somebody”.

In all fairness, my husband, Martin, can actually fix just about anything to which he sets his mind.  He could build a house from the ground up, minus maybe the electric.  And he spent his formative years tinkering on old Chevy trucks with his dad.  But, for the length of our marriage — nearly 17 years now — he’s held down two jobs.  He loves both places he works:  designing homes for a large, local homebuilder (for whom he’s worked nineteen years), and as the worship pastor of our church (which he’s done for 21 years).  Even if you take great pleasure in the work, two jobs — plus a new marriage — are going to tap you out, and at the point our stove died, he just didn’t have the time or energy to care about wrestling with a stove.

We ended up getting a new stove.  🙂

The last few years, though, as part of our continuous search for ways in which to save money, Martin has been doing more home repairs.  He has fixed our washing machine when it started gushing water onto the floor of our laundry room;  taken apart doorknobs;  done vehicle repairs;  put in irrigation for my garden, and more.

He’s still not quite as handy as my father, but I have come to the conclusion that perhaps that is part of God’s plan, as I harbor plenty of dissatisfactions with my dad;  God knew I needed something positive about my father on which I could positively reflect, and hold him in extremely high regard.


Someone asked recently what my “love language” is.  I’ve never read the book which originated that phrase, but I think I recall, after taking a quiz some years back, that mine is “acts of service.”  I really do feel loved when I come home from wherever, and see the dishes done, or see vacuum tracks in the carpet, or, in last night’s case, a refrigerator which did not rattle and buzz to Kingdom come.

Even better than that, I reflected — in the silence of the fridge’s new compressor fan — is how God perfectly put together the skills of my husband and me, while stretching both of us.

When the fridge started making a racket about a week ago, and it was clear that the rattling wasn’t just itinerant, together we decided to fix it.  Martin asked me if I could find out which part had gone bad.  I gulped, unsure if I could do that.  But, while he was at work, I found a website with parts schematics for the model of our refrigerator.  I pulled up the page on “air flow systems”, which I thought was most likely.  My oldest son (who will turn 14 later this month!) Ethan and I took the lower cover off of the fridge…  Before we pulled it off, though, I said a little prayer, out loud, “God, please let whatever’s wrong be immediately apparent.”  And it was:  A very wobbly and noisy fan, right at the back of the appliance, easy to diagnose.  Ethan and I vacuumed out all of the fuzz, and peered closely at the failed part, memorizing what it looked like, and the parts around it, so I could find it on the schematic page.  Which I did, with no trouble.

Then, to find the part.  List on it was about $120.  I found it locally for full price, then at another local supplier, discounted to about $95.  Online, I found it for about $80.  I just kept digging to see if I could find it less expensively.  Finally, I did:  for $60.41, including shipping, from a place in Oregon.  I called to confirm that my order would include the instruction sheet, which it did.  (More reasons to love the lush and lovely state of Oregon.)

My hubby decided that he’d rather save the $35 and wait, rather than buying locally.  So, I asked around to see which of my friends might have a small box fan, which I could aim at the compressor, as I had read dire warnings that if the compressor overheats (as it was wont to do, with a bum cooling fan), we’d need a new $300 compressor, not to mention losing all the food in the fridge and freezer.  (Thanks for the fan, Cristi!)

I went out grocery shopping last night, and came home to the refrigerator back in place, no box fan in sight, and no rattling sound.  🙂  Martin and Ethan were on it, while I was gone.

Somehow, I feel like that is better than just having a man who can always fix everything.  I mean, I feel like I learned something, and appreciate my husband more, and can see God at work.  He knows what I need.

Panic averted.  Strengths combined.  Money saved.  Fridge fixed.  Feelin’ the love…

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