One of the most common challenges faced by newly-single women is home maintenance. Evvy, who was married for 42 years and has been divorced now for about four years, was recently celebrating her victory changing a light bulb – yeah! That’s one I can empathize with but before my story, here’s Evvy’s:
[contemplate1]In the marital home, my husband did everything – he fixed things. He may not have done them terribly well but he did it and I didn’t. So when I moved out of that home and into a town home, I felt good about being able to look after it myself.
Well, the first week I moved in, a light bulb went out in the hall light. It was one of these ceiling mounted fixtures and you had to unscrew something to get it out. So I got on a chair and fiddled with it and I couldn’t get anything to move that didn’t look like it was going to rip the ceiling out.
Fortunately that evening there was a community meeting for our little condos so I went there and the manager, who I knew, was there and I said ‘I’ve got this light fixture and I don’t know if it’s all the houses but I can’t make it unstuck.’ So he came round, stood on the chair, unfixed it for me and showed me what to do.
So now, three or four years have passed and last night the light in the hall went out again. I looked at it and I thought ‘I couldn’t do it before, let’s see if I can do it now.’ I got the chair and wiggled everything and again I thought the ceiling would come down. Then I realized the glass cover had notches in it so I wiggled it some more and it came out. There was the offending bulb, I unscrewed it, put in a new bulb and put the cover back on it. I thought, ‘I can do it!’
I think you are made to feel helpless a lot of times in a marriage because that’s the role women are or were taught to play. I do think it has changed – not everywhere though. I’m an older woman and I was in the marriage a long time. I was definitely a feminist caught in a traditional marriage and I had to fight very hard to change that. When I got married, women weren’t working: I was one of the few women who were determined to work after I was married.
Well done Evvy! As she told me there are big achievements and little ones but even the little one’s can boost our morale. Evvy’s story reminds me of two lessons from other interviews:
“What I would say is what every woman needs is a really, really good, honest handyman. I have one I got from another girlfriend, who said every woman needs a handyman and she shared hers with me and I’ve now shared him with other single women.” – Maryan Jaross
Dawn was trying to fix her leaking shower faucet. She did her research, knew what she needed to do but couldn’t get the faucet apart. She ended up calling a plumber and was furious. “Three huge men came to do this little leaking shower. I think they wanted me to leave but I said, ‘oh no, I’ll be watching you.’ It took them literally eight minutes. They did everything I did but the difference was they had a different wrench and they just gave it a little more elbow grease. That was $100. I was livid but I thought, OK, I just paid $100 for a training session. Then I went and fixed my other bathroom.” – Dawn
So ladies, if you have a friend who’s in the process of separating, share your handyman with her – it could be the best gift she gets. And if you do end up hiring someone to do work on your home, think about staying and watching what they do – you never know when that knowledge may come in handy. As for my light bulb story … I’ll save that for tomorrow.