David works very hard at the VA hospital, where he earns $80,000 per year as an administrator. Stacey works as a real estate agent and has sporadic income ranging from $45,000 – $65,000 a year. They have two high school age children who will be attending college.
Stacey feels their house is a dump, and wants to do a major renovation. They had done a small renovation 2 years earlier, but the cost was more than they expected, and David did not feel he had any control over the expenses or the process. David doesn’t want to go through the same thing this year with a bigger project. He is afraid it will make him hate Stacey. He is quite concerned about how they will meet college costs for the children.
With the help of a marital mediator, David and Stacey make a plan. They agree to jointly choose the renovator, the scope of the project, and how they will fund it.
Stacey provides data to David shared in the mediator session that shows the money spent will increase the equity in their home dollar or dollar. The couple sets monetary limits for each component of the work, and sets a process for cost overruns.
The couple’s agreement about the renovation and the process they will take in doing it is memorialized in a signed agreement. David feels he is more an equal participant in the planning of the renovation, and he is “on board” with it. Stacey feels supported and now feels that David respects her judgment that the renovation is a prudent thing to do and one that will give them much joy in the long run.
This case study is fictional and does not represent any real person.