You may already know Peg and I bought a log cabin in Osage County, Oklahoma. Our home in Posey County, Indiana is a converted barn with 4,000 square feet of finished space and our barn/home also has a barn. Our cabin in Oklahoma is 2,000 square feet and we had to add a barn. Four thousand square feet of stuff does not smoothly fit in 2,000 square feet of space. However, my suggestion to Peg that we simply leave everything but our toothbrushes was not kindly received. Ergo, we are in the process of triage. I have learned the hard way to not suggest which items are disposable. My role is to take down and re-hang not to judge what should be preserved.
Benjamin Franklin and his wife, Deborah, lived much of their married life separated by the Atlantic Ocean as Ben served as Minister to France while Deborah refused to accompany him. But they managed to raise three children and stay married for many years. I suspect their marital success was in large part due to staying put in one house most of their marriage. When Ben’s famous quote, “We must hang together or we will surely hang separately”, is cited most people probably assume Ben was talking about our Revolution from Great Britain. I propose he was giving marital advice. You know Ben was famous and got rich for his advice column Poor Richard’s Almanac. Why not accept that he was an early Ann Landers?
What I think Ben meant was, if you and your spouse wish to avoid all out warfare, you should never engage in moving and especially not in what should be hung and where. For example, when I was sixteen my parents moved one block to a different house. Our family had three pictures on the walls. One was a black and white 8” x 10” photograph of our immediate family and the other two were Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper (not the original) and some European’s creation of a blond-haired Jesus. All three were taken down by my mother and put back up by my father. No argument, no stress.
On the other hand, Peg and I have countless photos of us, of our three kids and their spouses, of our seven grandkids, some of whom already have spouses, and one great-grand kid. We have knickknacks from family vacations, from gifts and from school projects. Every wall in our Indiana home/barn is festooned with something. And Peg demands all of it must be hung in our much smaller Oklahoma cabin. Of course all our furniture has to be carefully placed somewhere too. Well, you see the dilemma.
We are gingerly adjusting to this new strain of “Cabin Fever”, but there is a constant simmering of strife just below the lip-biting surface. My position is usually reasoned and rational, but Peg’s is often influenced by emotion. For example, yesterday we spent over an hour negotiating if a forty-pound mirror should be saved and, if so, where would it go? Peg’s position was it is a family heirloom and my response about it not being from my side of the family was not charitably received. The mirror now hangs in its new location.
Peg and I have now made nine trips to the cabin with items crammed onto a trailer and in a car (SUV) and a pickup. We have about two more trips to go. Each trip takes about twelve hours each way and requires a day to load and another day to unload. The nitty gritty of what goes where will consume the remainder of our lives and marriage.
Now, if you Gentle Reader, wish to be a modern day Ben Franklin marriage saver, feel free to give us a hand and bring a truck!