An Irreconcilable Difference?

We’ve had a good run. I have always been amazed that two people who are so different can make a marriage work. We don’t have very many interests or hobbies in common. She doesn’t like sports and I don’t like her choice in movies – but those are little things. We’ve raised fine children and built a house together, agreeing on the big things.

Our parenting styles are very compatible. Religion, politics, financial goals – those life influences that can divide a couple… we’ve always been on the same page. Oh sure, we’ve had arguments. I don’t recall many knockdown dragouts, but we have fought. In the end, we have made up. We both believe in the Biblical admonishment to never let the sun go down on your anger so we have always tried to solve our issues before we go to bed. It has worked for over two decades. We suffered through seemingly unendurable pain of late. But we did it together.

Now, however, something is changed.

Everyone has a basic philosophy that governs their lives and they have to be true to it. My lovely wife and I have come to an impasse that for me, shakes the foundation of our relationship and I am not sure how to go on.

She wants to paint over solid wood.        shock

Can you believe that? How can this be? Please pick yourself up and read the rest, even though it might be traumatic to do so. She’s not a bad person. Misguided maybe… and I could probably forgive her if it was pine or even oak. But sadly, she is ready to hide the beautiful grain of cherry under a coat of enamel and I’m not sure I can live with that.

You see, I believe wood has a figurative soul. I have made enough furniture to learn how to find the soul of the tree and use it in the design of the piece. In doing so, you can make the beauty of the wood itself the focal point of the furniture, hiding any design or mechanical flaws. Maybe it is a knot, a grain variation, or just the fleck of color that distinguishes it from the rest. The key is finding these unique features in the lumberyard and centering your piece around the inherent beauty of the wood.


When I see a stunning piece of wood I can imagine the very finger of God pushing through the tree to give it a divine soul. I’ve held pieces in my hand that allowed me to picture His artistic smile and brought me to a state of worship right there in the lumberyard –  where I have gotten strange and often threatening looks from other craftsmen.

You don’t have to look very hard in walnut or cherry to find its soul. Both species seem to radiate their beauty like a peacock with its tail feathers held high. You wouldn’t prune the proud peacock or brush over a Rembrandt! So why would anyone paint over the artistry of the Creator?

I don’t know the answer. I am told that painted cabinets are the current rage in kitchens and people who bought thirty thousand dollars worth of hardwood cabinets are now painting them. It makes me sick to my stomach as I contemplate the sorry state of a fallen world that would ruin hardwood in an attempt to be trendy. I doubt I will ever understand.




So my marriage is at a precipice. We have a huge divide because my wife wants to paint over a table made of solid cherry… and I’m just not sure what to do with that.

23 thoughts on “An Irreconcilable Difference?

  1. If we’re talking about the entertainment center here, it’s time. I speak as one who get knots in my stomach over the irreversable condition of painting over wood. I was well trained by my Daddy and Grandfather. But Mark….be a man and do it.

  2. Consider yourself lucky, my friend. At least she is not dragging you into an IKEA. One cannot truly understand frustration until they have attempted to assemble an ARKFREKLE or DUNKIT.

    1. I thought you would have plenty of people in Minnesota to interpret those instructions! I’ve never been to Ikea and hope to never go. That place scares me.

  3. This should be a debate held within the context of premarital counseling. Fortunately my husband and I are in agreement on this issue. I don’t know what I would do if he ever wanted to paint over a piece of beautiful natural wood furniture. I suspect I would feel betrayed. Good luck!

    1. It’s not going so well. We hit the high points in premarital counseling. I truly never thought this would be an issue. Maybe a midlife crisis? I don’t know…

  4. Here again, my stomach was in my throat… You have the uncanny knack of pulling me in to imagine the worst! Although, once I had gotten past that heart stopper of there being trouble at the homestead, I have to admit the actual “hiccup” in life as it should be, is a complication of enormous magnitude. I thought all women felt like me that wood has its own soul and would never, ever, tarnish that with any thing other than lemon oil to increase the beauty. That’s why lemon oil was created so we never had the need to cover wood. I don’t know buddy, I am with you on this and if we need to start a petition or whatever, please don’t let her paint any wood! Never! Ever!

  5. ooh, i can see this as an issue, especially with a furniture maker in the mix! good luck and hopefully no one gets a splinter!

  6. Mark, you are hilarious! You & Robin are an amazing couple. I love your writing and a year later, look forward to finding your posts!

  7. LOL! A bit of *ahem* “wisdom” from this married woman of 23 years: “Happy wife, happy life.” 😉 Paint it. (That said, however, I agree with you. ‘Tis a tragedy to paint over wood. You’ll have to capture an untainted picture of the “before” and cherish it.)

      1. Our perspective on so many things changes after child loss, doesn’t it? Things that seemed like such big deals really aren’t, and things we thought we’d never find humor in again, we somehow do.

  8. Don’t do it!!! But I know you have to. If I told my husband to do it he would fuss but he would do it for me. It is just the way it is. It will hurt and you will have to grieve another loss. I am sorry my friend.

  9. I’m glad you’re ok with painting pine or oak. I painted my oak cabinets in spite of massive out cries from several of my friends, and am happy with the results. Since I had 3 different kinds of cabinets, it was the only way to establish some type of uniformity. Not sure I would have done it otherwise. Wood grain is so pretty!

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