I’ll admit, I winced when I called my husband to tell him that Mom was moving home with me. It wasn’t that he’d object to her presence, but it would only take a few seconds for him to realize what it meant.
We live in a three-bedroom, one bath, 1100 sq. ft. home. When you leave our living room, you have two options. Our room, or “the boys’ room.” If you want to get to the “girls’ room,” you have to walk through the boys’ room. For what it’s worth, that boys’ room has housed our two sons and two other young men who have lived with us over the past few years.
To move Mom into the back room meant she’d have to go up and down steps. Considering she was walking around her house with a walker at that point, even the two WIDE steps weren’t going to work. That meant the boys’ room had to become Mom’s room.
So where would #2son go?
That was Kevin’s first question. I heard the dread in his tone. He knew what it meant, and it’s his least favorite thing in the world to do–almost. At least it wouldn’t involve plumbing. But it did mean…
Look, for what it’s worth, I looked for small travel trailers and all kinds of things as an alternative, but it became obvious that we had no choice but to buy a wooden shed with a foundation and turn it into the boys’ “Shed-room.” He forgave me.
And he still wanted me to come home. A miracle.
So, while I tried to sell Mom’s house, he tried to figure out how to run electrical to it. While I was at Loma Linda University Hospital with Mom, he ran the wire. When I got home, he took his month off work and used it to put up drywall and finish it instead of cycling 750 miles like he does most years. I know this because he keeps a chart. No joke.
As I write, he’s sleeping in preparation for putting in the floor. On his first weekend off after going back to work this week.
Did I mention this man hates doing stuff like this? We can’t afford to have it done for us, so it means he has to do it. Did I mention…?
Know why he does it?
For reasons I still cannot fathom, this man loves me. If I need a room for my mom, and that displaces our son, he’ll provide something so his son is taken care of. Even if it means dealing with the dreaded plumbing, he’d still do it. #becauselove.
I’ve seen huge renovation and construction projects destroy marriages and health. More than one man I know has built his family a home only to come down with cancer or heart trouble afterward. It’s a huge strain on the body.
It’s also a huge strain on marriages.
I had no idea what I’d requested when I saw the book, A House with Holes, but I decided it looked interesting, so I requested a free review copy. It came up on this week’s editorial calendar, so I pulled it out and started reading…
Note: links are likely affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra expense to you. Additionally, I received a free review copy of this book and chose to share my thoughts.
An Unusual Way to Examine What Makes a Great Marriage
I’ll be honest. When the first chapter had this weird block of text relating what we were reading about this house renovation to building a strong marriage, I groaned. I was confident that I would not like this book. Though disappointed, I kept reading.
Glad I did. When you consider how many metaphors for marriage include construction and architectural terms, it makes sense. I just didn’t expect it at first, but by chapter three, I found myself looking for them.
Denise Broadwater offers a glimpse into a real marriage–and the effect that marriage had on others as they watched it play out. We see a bigger picture than her neighbors did, but even with their personal flaws, the Broadwaters show a beautiful picture of what a loving marriage is. And they do this even at times where it feels like anything but.
Questions at the end of the chapters make A House with Holes suitable for individual, couple, and group study.
You won’t find earth-shattering new thoughts or concepts in here. I don’t recall reading any scripture. There aren’t even heavy doses of spiritual insights. Instead, the book is more of a look at how one (obviously Christian) couple’s experience in renovating a home illustrated how they’d built their marriage–where it worked. Where it didn’t.
If you enjoy Emily P. Freeman’s podcast, The Next Right Thing, you might love this book. Something about Denise Broadwater’s writing style reminds me of Emily’s podcasting style. It’s personal and conversational, and it draws you into her world without making you feel like you’re intruding. This is one of those books that I requested and received a free review copy… and I’ll be buying a paperback ASAP. I want to have it on hand to share.
A House with Holes is on tour with Celebrate Lit
Book: A House with Holes
Author: Denise Mast Broadwater
Genre: Christian Memoir, Marriage
Release Date: October, 2019
Seasoned renovators Greg and Denise Broadwater dream of owning and restoring a historic home in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. What follows are six years of unimaginable challenges and successes concerning the renovation of their condemned 1920s Charleston Cottage, their place in a transitional neighborhood on Congress Street, and their thirty-year marriage.
In a community that struggles to feel like home, alongside normal stressors of full-time work and family weddings, the heightened tension taxes the Broadwaters to the brink. Nothing is left untouched in their hundred-year-old cottage full of architectural and historical details, from the rotted floorboards to the hole in the roof and the knob-and-tube wiring that causes a fire. But through Denise’s fascinating memoir, A House with Holes, the Christian author and therapist shares how she and her craftsman-architect husband strengthened the holes in both their home and their relationship during this wearying time in order to survive and thrive.
Using Broadwater’s counseling experience, marriage principles have been woven seamlessly into the text, demonstrating ways to maintain relationships in the midst of struggles. Reflective questions close each chapter so that readers may ponder their own relationships with growth and understanding.
About the Author
Denise Mast Broadwater is a licensed professional counselor in South Carolina, treating anxiety, depression, life adjustments, and marriages. She began her career as a family therapist working with at-risk families and youth. Previously, she was an elementary teacher in private education. She is a wife and the mother of three children and recently became a grandmother. She enjoys rowing at the gym, cooking new recipes, sewing quilts, and blogging at Life Lights Blog (emptynestmarriage.com) and Charleston Renovator Blog (www.freedmanscottagerenovation.blogspot.com).
More About A House with Holes
Marriage comes with the struggle of making life work—but with a promise of home, a place to rest, to be who we are in all our mess, to feel loved and accepted in the truth of who we are. Opening up our mess means adjusting to our anxieties, habits, and struggles.
We all know marriage can be tough. Marriage requires commitment and flexibility, allowing for each spouse to develop his and her own gifts, to work together through challenges, and to communicate in a way that draws the couple closer through any issues that arise. The same can practically be said for renovating a house—especially an old house.
In A House with Holes: One Marriage Journey in a Charleston Renovation, author and therapist Denise Broadwater shares the challenges and successes of the restoration she and her craftsman-architect husband embraced after their purchase of a 1920s Charleston Cottage that was slated for destruction. Oddly enough, the project began to mirror the ups and downs of their empty-nester marital relationship.
Through this intriguing memoir describing the architectural style and details of their historic home on Congress Street in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, Denise shares her struggles and disappointments during the six-year upheaval. They lived with open holes in the floors and roof, wild critters, and in an old neighborhood that was unsure of their intentions. As her attitude changed with her living situation, Denise discovered her marriage rising to meet the challenges they faced and this struggling community opening to become a place of belonging.
“All marriages have holes—that’s a given,” Denise says.
“The holes are places you disconnect: a container for selfishness, for disappointment, and for addictions as people try to find alternatives for unmet needs. Intimacy opens up the holes. Growing means making small movements toward each other, coming together to reduce friction.”
Principles and questions about marriage have been worked seamlessly into each chapter so that readers can “shore up” their own relationships and grow in understanding while vicariously watching the progress of the Charleston Cottage through the eyes of a seasoned DIY renovator.
The Broadwaters’ experience of doing life in the midst of a major house renovation demonstrates marriage recovery, and her expertise as a counselor shapes lessons for married people everywhere in an honest, easy-reading, and relatable telling.
I have read more than my share of books about relationships, but A House with Holes is refreshingly different.
Reading this book feels like binging on a Netflix series because you have to see what happens next. Denise is a therapist who has an in-depth understanding of relationships, and she has invited you to have a front-row seat to view what it took to create an amazing marriage while undertaking an almost impossible renovation.
—Dr. Larry Wagner, PhD, professor of counseling,
Columbia International University, Columbia, South Carolina
Locks, Hooks and Books, December 30
Cultivating Us, December 31
Adventures of a Travelers Wife, January 1
Artistic Nobody, January 2 (Author Interview)
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 2
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 3
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 4
janicesbookreviews, January 5
Through the Fire Blogs, January 6 (Author Interview)
Mary Hake, January 6
All-of-a-kind Mom, January 7
Lots of Helpers, January 8
Texas Book-aholic, January 9
A Reader’s Brain, January 10
For Him and My Family, January 11
Just the Write Escape, January 11
Inklings and notions, January 12
To celebrate her tour, Denise is giving away the grand prize of a framed piece from a famous Charleston artist, Jim Booth!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.