Decorating Differences

Dear Evangeline,
How do I get my husband to agree with my decorating taste?

Dear Sally,

A woman I know once took her husband to a furniture store where she had spotted a couch and armchair set she had loved on an earlier, solo visit. They were furnishing their first home together. She did not mention this set in particular. She walked around the store, ignoring the green velvet set. He noticed it and said “What about this one?” She considered it for a minute and then said, as if she needed to be persuaded,“I don’t know. It’s nice, I guess?” He sat down. He ran his hands over the velvet. He pronounced it better than nice. They went home with the set and have been happily married 25 years.

You could say she’s a smooth operator. They also have the kind of relationship where she could tell that story publicly just a few years later and he would laugh and celebrate the way she had his number, that he needed to have agency in their shared home. He felt known. Also, symbolically, he made their marital bed with virtually no furniture making experience, cutting down some hemlock trees and chipping the bark off himself to build it. It’s a gorgeous, four-poster symbol of their love, his gift to her. Between the couch and the bed, he was an active participant in decorating decisions. He felt included.

Which is what most of us want, right? I wish I knew more about your husband. Maybe he is the type for whom a house is not complete without a mounted deer’s head and you are a vegetarian. Are you an Aniston while he’s a Pitt? Remember when they broke up and she said, at least now “I can have a comfortable couch?”

Often we take hard positions because of fear, insecurity or tradition. Talk about why you love the décor you love and ask what he loves and why. Ask him to bring you to a home goods store that he likes. Browse online together. Get him to list five things he doesn’t like about your decorating taste. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them is “it’s too expensive.” He might sit on the beautiful couch you spent six months shopping for and all he can think is, “I can’t believe this thing cost $3,000.” If it’s about money, respect that anxiety; it’s hard to relax when you’re stressing about the financial foundation, so establish a decorating budget. When you do shop for the house, do it together. Be open. Look for common ground. It might take you as a couple a while to develop a style that represents the two of you together, but when you do, your house is going to really feel like home, to both of you.

Tenderly, E

Dear Evangeline,
How do you juggle motherhood, school and life and be successful?

Dear Logan,

When is the last time you watched someone juggle? I’m talking three balls in the air. Eventually they drop one, right? And the crowd groans. The juggler makes an “I’m sorry” face and maybe resumes. (I’m totally flashing back to elementary school, when it seems like a juggler and/or mime showed up randomly at least once a year, we all sat in the cafeteria watching and that was school that day. Weird.)

The guy who holds the Guinness Book of World Records for duration, set in 2009, juggled three objects for 12 hours and 5 minutes. A half a day. Chances are you juggle motherhood, school and maybe a partnered relationship every single day, all day long. Pat yourself on the back for your nonstop juggling.

But I think you, and all of us, need to come up with your very own specific ideas of success. I could care less about the Sheryl Sandberg definition of success, for instance. She leans in, sure but she probably hasn’t checked the balance in her checking account in months, let alone every time she goes for groceries or gases up the Forester. If her dog gets loose and ends up across town, does someone say, “Oh yeah, that’s Sheryl’s beagle, it always runs away,” and then bring it back? I feel successful when I feel like I’m part of a community, putting kindness into it and getting kindness back.

The beauty of life is, you’re allowed to decide these things for yourself. You can decide that for you, success today is finding a dish that your kids like that you can cook for dinner in under 30 minutes. Maybe it’s acing the test or seeing your perennial flower beds come up in the spring. In the long term maybe it’s landing a big job or seeing your children flourish.

Success is not a fixed destination. In fact the thing you think of as success might be somewhere you get to and spend some time in and then decide to move on from. This might be a surprise, but it is rarely a disappointment. Because we’re changing and growing all the time. Just make sure you know you’re working toward your definition of success and not someone else’s. Just yours. The thing inside you, Logan that says, yes, that.

Tenderly, E

Who is Evangeline? She’s wise and warm. She’s been through some major stuff. She’s a mother and a sister. She knocks on doors to get out the vote. Even your kid will listen to her. And she listens back. Evangeline can’t fix your car for you, but she can help with family and relationship advice. Send your questions to

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