Before I was married, I had no idea the cable channel HGTV existed. Now, as a supportive spouse and home owner, a good chunk of my TV time is filled with home improvement style shows. At the top of the DVR list sits "House Hunters."
If you don’t know the show, typically a couple is followed by a camera crew as they look at three homes for sale. At the end they decide which one they’re going to buy. Typically, the show revisits the couple in their new home to see what changes they made to the house.
While I originally consumed the show the way it was intended - by playing along at home trying to guess which house they’ll pick - now I find it a far more fascinating study of how couples work. Unlike other reality shows where people are trying to be over-the-top caricatures of themselves, couples on "House Hunters" seems to be on their best behavior. At least they're trying to act that way. Yet the stress, or pure overwhelming emotion, that comes along with making such a big purchase makes people act in interesting ways.
Most of all, I think it shows couples' real priorities. Inevitably there’s a husband who needs a man cave more than any other practical feature. Many times, a wife is more concerned about the type of knobs on the kitchen cabinets or the tile in the bathroom instead of realizing this is the kind of home in her budget. And it’s not uncommon to see a couple with no kids complain that a house only has four bedrooms and a den when they really wanted a five bedroom house for them and their dog.
Sure, these are sort of stereotyped behaviors, but I find that couples find themselves in the typical trap of throwing their relationship aside to get tangible features in a home. Husbands will get snippy with their wives and vice versa. So I can’t help but wonder, if I was on the show, would my Christian marriage look different? Or would I fall into similar traps?
My hope is that I would be respectful of my wife and compromise on issues where we disagreed. But here’s a little secret – my past tells me I may end up being more like a "House Hunters" husband than I’d like to admit.
When my wife and I bought our first house about four years ago, I was set on living in the suburbs where I could have big trees in my yard, a lawn to mow and no noisy neighbors in a complex where we were sharing paper-thin walls. That’s the house we have, but it’s not really what my wife wanted. I later learned my wife had suggested multiple times that we move into the city. The truth is, at the time I never heard her say that. I believe she did, but I was so focused on what I wanted that we ended up in the burbs. Now, there’s nothing more that we want home-wise than to sell the house and move to the city. The only thing standing in our way is the fact that the house we bought is a fixer upper, because that’s what we could afford in the area were looking.
If I were on "House Hunters" next week, I’d hope there would be a noticeable difference in how I acted. Maybe I’d really listen to my wife instead of just thinking I was. More importantly, I’d hope the average viewer would notice a difference in how my wife and I interacted with each other. Because even something like buying a house should be different for Christians, right? We shouldn’t get caught up in the game of spending too much. And we should definitely treat our spouses with respect instead of outright demanding things or calling them names. A Christian marriage isn’t about control, disrespect, selfishness or greed. Instead, wouldn’t it be refreshing to see a couple with reasonable behavior meander their way through the show?
(Screenshot courtesy of HGTV.)