For the Love of Ben

Once upon a time we built this new house. We had to make about a million decisions about the floor plan, stucco colors, flooring, paint colors, kitchen cabinets, etc, etc.

Ben and I made all those decisions “together”, meaning that I pinned thousands of ideas on Pinterest, analyzed them for hours, and finally showed Ben my favorites, and he responded with, “Sure”, or “Looks good.”

The only thing we had a bit of a discussion about was my desire for a white kitchen. Ben thought it would be too much work to keep white cabinets clean, but he gave in because I think he could sense my love for white was real, and not some passing thing. (And now he agrees that white was best, and if we ever build another house, white will always be best!)

So we painted our walls all light and airy and beautiful, just the way I wanted, and we were very happy.


Sometimes I felt a slight sense that something was missing, but I wasn’t quite sure what. Our house just needed a little bit of something yet, but I thought I would figure that out, with time.

But then one day, Ben came home after a day of work which involved the Parade of Homes.

“I think we need more color in here,” he said.

He showed me some pictures of the show homes he’d seen, and he was right – those well-chosen colors really made the homes look more “put together” and professionally designed.

He’s always wanted lots of color. He used to run a painting company, and is super fast at painting, so over the years, we’ve experimented with many different paint colors in the homes we’ve lived in. Ben always pushed for more color, and I’ve always remained a “light colors” girl at heart.

As we talked about adding something more interesting to the walls of our new home, I decided that I could live with painting one wall in the living room, and with painting the kitchen, since there are hardly any walls showing in the kitchen anyway.

Before his brush ever touched the wall, I warned Ben that I already knew I would hate the new color, at first.

He looked a little alarmed, and asked, “Then why are we doing this??”

And I said, “Because I’ll get used to it, and love it in the end. And because this is your home, too.”

If Ben wants more color, I think I should go along with it, unless I want to be a controlling wife who doesn’t let him have a say in what his own home looks like.

Which is tempting, but not very fair.

So he painted the wall, and that first evening, I loved it. (I was so relieved!) And Ben loved it.

Ben painting

But the next morning, when I walked into our living room,andΒ  stared at that wall, I thought, “I totally hate it. It sucks every bit of light out of me, and I feel claustrophobic. The wall is closing in on me.” It was quite horrible.

Ben asked, “Do you want me to paint it back?”

And I said, “No, I want you to paint the kitchen right away, too.” If I have to go through the discomfort of getting used to this, I might as well do it all at once.

In the meantime, I kept making Ben tell me how much he liked it, because that’s what it’s all about.

Here’s the thing: Whenever he’s been very easygoing, and allows me to have my way with everything, I end up having a very boring life.

I keep thinking that my own way will make me happiest, but it never does. I’m always happiest when I’m having to make my life fit into place with everybody else. Like a puzzle. It would be a boring picture if my little piece was all there was. Or if the entire puzzle was made up of identical pieces to mine.

So it’s a paint color, but really, it’s not just that. It’s me trying to be flexible, and doing something new and different. It’s taking a step back from what I naturally gravitate towards, and opening myself up to what other people like, too.

It’s getting out of my comfort zone, and doing it enough times that I’ve learned I’ll become comfortable with the new “normal”, in time.

It’s loving Ben, and therefore loving what Ben loves, even if it takes a bit to get used to.

The good news is that it’s been a week, and I am almost completely okay with the new wall color. As soon as Ben set up our new set of white shelves, I could feel my body relaxing and sinking into the comfort of white and bright. It gave me the strength I needed to accept that wall of darkness.


Kaylia said it best, in the end. She asked Ben if he was building our new bookshelves, and he said, “No, these are not just bookshelves – these are Mommy’s Salvation.”

And she said, “Why are you making Mommy’s Celebration?”

Now whenever I walk through the living room, I continue to think of it as our celebration – dark color for Ben, white shelves for me. We work together and figure it out, and mix up everybody’s favorites until we get something we all love.

Yup. That is worth celebrating.:) And now I have some shelves to fill...

Any stories to share of a time you tried something new, got out of your comfort zone, for the sake of someone you love?

13 thoughts on “For the Love of Ben

  1. This makes me think of when my husband is always asking me to go to boring high school basketball games. There was a point in my life that I enjoyed it, but now it just seems like a waist to go to every single game (in town and out of town). We don’t have children and occasionally there is a kid we know that is playing. But every year it is the same thing. I need to cave in and just go. Bleh! πŸ™‚

  2. Good for you, Kendra! Mark loves hunting and he has taken both our son and daughter with him but we joke that we had a prenup: you kill it, you clean it, you cook it, you eat it. I will target shoot but not hunt – just not interested. He hunts without me and I paint without him and that’s been okay for us.

    Actually, as I’m typing this I’m thinking that maybe next year I should surprise him by getting up early and climbing up to the tree stand with him. I think that would knock his heavy woolen socks off.

    • If it would knock his socks off, then I think you should definitely climb up the tree stand with him! It sounds kind of peaceful and romantic.;)

  3. My wonderful husband Gary has been gently nudging me out of my comfort zone for 28 years. The first big one was when he suggested I go for my Bachelor of Education. I was finishing up 4 years of Bible College and had no interest in continuing my studies. But with his encouragement, I did it and have never been sorry! I home schooled our 4 children for 16 years and am currently teaching at a delightful Hutterite Colony. I would have never done this without him cheering me on.

    • Yay for husbands who encourage exits from the comfort zone! I am also a big fan of the lifelong cheerleader and accountability partner.:)

  4. I was thinking about you the other day when I was painting my stairwell charcoal grey. Then I stood back and looked at the charcoal grey living room walls and charcoal grey kitchen walls and charcoal grey entrance walls and I said to myself, “Kendra would go batty in here!!” Nothing is light and airy but I think it is perfect! I am trying to balance all that grey with a bunch of crisp white and I think the combination is fantastic. Makes me giddy. Isn’t it so interesting how different colors have different effects on different people? Not at all the point of your blog post but I needed to share with you anyway! πŸ™‚

    • Nope, Kendra will think it’s fantastic! In other people’s homes, it’s totally different than in my own! I love the dark and white combination, as long as I don’t have to live with it!! I can’t wait to see everything that you’ve done. Your pictures look amazing!

  5. Pingback: 35 Days of Favorites: Space to Organize! | Ordinary Days

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