I never thought I’d be one of those women whose husband had never even operated a circular saw, much less crafted a strong dovetail joint for, say, an atypically shaped bookshelf that would finally make use of that awkward, unusable corner in the living room—but it’s true. None of the furniture in our three-story Park Slope brownstone was handcrafted by my loving, six-foot-three, sturdy husband Drew, and I won’t spend another day pretending like he did.
For my family and loved ones who are discovering this hard truth through this article, I apologize. It must hurt to know that the rough-hewn coffee table you admired at our pre-Thanksgiving potluck was not, in fact, lovingly sanded by my handsome, bearded husband, but by a nameless tradesman whom we shall never know. But I didn’t know how else to come out about this private shame.
I’ll try to recall every detail as best I can, out of respect to anyone who may have been harmed by this furniture-related lie of omission.
My wake-up call came when we decided to renovate, and Drew suggested we hire someone to install new hardwood floors in the study. Maybe it was silly of me to assume he would lay down those oak wide planks himself, but I’ll admit, it took all I had to put on a brave face and keep working on loving and accepting Drew for who he is. Since then, that brave face has snowballed into one big lifetime of self-deception.
I know some of you are thinking, “How could she subject herself to her husband’s woodworking ineptitude like this? Doesn’t a revelation of carpentry inability allow for an instant no-fault divorce? There has to be some other way.” Trust me: I’ve lost countless hours of sleep asking myself the same thing, until I finally realized, sure, Drew has never salvaged any white ash or cherry from a struggling, family-owned factory and spent four months meticulously crafting it into a rustic kitchen counter for us, but relationships aren’t always easy. And it’s my job to love him through his flaws, no matter what.
This isn’t to say that we aren’t working to have a happy marriage. Drew is working hard to be the best he can be, despite his betrayal, and I love him very much. Did he minor in gender, sexuality, and feminist studies at Middlebury and co-captain the soccer team? Yes. Does he have a body like Mark Wahlberg and a heart like Mark Ruffalo? Of course. Does he buy and iron his own well-tailored navy chinos and dress like the Orvis catalog come to life? I can’t see why any man wouldn’t. But when I ask him to craft a console table for the foyer, instead of rolling up his flannel sleeves and breaking out a compound miter saw, Drew simply shakes the dark brown hair out of his eyes, gives me a cheeky lopsided grin, and tells me he’ll bring me back some meatballs from IKEA. It’s taken a few years, but instead of fighting or trying to “fix” him, I’ve come to accept and cherish the lack of handmade furnishings as a special quirk of the home we’ve built together.
When I’m curled up with a copy of Kinfolk on the couch while Drew prepares us his specialty saffron and squid ink paella on the kitchen counter he did not build, does the thought ever cross my mind that the industrial iron and teak coffee table in front of me could have been soldered and assembled by the man I love? Yes. And every day is its own battle. But then all I need to do is to take his hand—one that will never varnish a cedar deck—in mine, look into his eyes, and remember that he’s rich as shit and can buy all the reclaimed barnwood we’d ever need. Now that’s love.