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“A man’s home is his wife’s castle.” – Alexander Chase

Truth! Show me a situation where this isn’t true and I’ll show you a very odd marriage (and possibly one that’s in trouble.)

Over my years of working with couples – in an up-close -and-personal manner that is not unlike that of a marriage counselor – I’ve learned that nobody has a perfect partnership.

Not Dan and David, with their Dogpatch loft, both working for Tesla, with dovetailing Pinterest boards.

Not Kate and Howard, with a ramshackle Victorian manse and 3 teenagers, 2 dogs, 2 cats and a frog.

Not Sheila and Juan, with a West Portal fixer they’re in the middle of tearing apart and putting back together again.

Not me and – Sorry! – not you either.

We all have our needs, wants and eccentricities and it’s a fact that there’s always going to be some friction. It’s just part of the human condition.

The struggle can be writ inordinately large when it comes to real estate: Shouting matches over the choice of street address hardware. Sleep lost lying awake beside a snoring spouse while analyzing the best argument for getting the kitchen backsplash you want. Long text exchanges debating whether or not to add a half bath downstairs.

This stuff can make you want to go rent a studio apartment on the other side of town. Just for YOU. No partner, no kids, no pets, no mortgage, no design choices. Or it can make you knuckle down and obsess and wrangle until you have it your way.

I read a funny quote recently on Anya Christanthon’s Instagram page: “No one is more determined than a woman rearranging furniture by herself.”

Bullseye! I can flash back to dozens of times when I singlehandedly manifested my vision for a room by heaving, pushing, sliding or scraping furniture into place. And I’ve watched many a client (who was part of a couple) do similar heavy lifting. One partner or the other is almost always the driver. Or the dragger – as in dragging their beloved over the finish line.

If you’re the reluctant one and you love your husband or wife, my advice is to stop what you’re doing and get out of their way. Help where you can. Comfort when you’re asked. Open your checkbook. Watch out for anything truly alarming. Enjoy the finished product.

But don’t go thinking you’re the King or Queen. It may be your home, but it’s somebody else’s castle.

Photo Credit: Colin Watts 

Author and RealEstateTherapy curator Cynthia Cummins has been devoted to homeowners and homebuyers for three decades and counting. Visit for more information on San Francisco real estate.