Truer Test of Love

When it comes to decorating our house, my husband and I have a rule: The one who cares more about the decision gets to choose.

I made up that rule, and for more than 30 years it's worked for me—especially since my husband, Barry, never cared one way or another. However, now that Barry's retired and at home more, he suddenly cares deeply and passionately about things that never interested him before.

I'm not sure I like this new side of Barry!

I started noticing it after our youngest daughter had moved out, and we'd turned her room into an office. I'd replaced the single bed with a daybed, found a drop-leaf table and painted it shiny black, bought a rustic desk with a hutch top, and hung a Lowell Herrero print on the wall. To my mind, this spare room is to be a showcase for my decorating taste—and oh, by the way, also an office.

Barry has completely different ideas about the spare room. To him, it's an office first. Therefore the paper shredder, just because it's an eyesore, shouldn't be relegated to the closet or garage. And the drop-leaf table is the perfect place for his monstrous calendar, piles of receipts, and boxes of paperclips and rubber bands. After all, he says, it's an office.

He also can't understand my choice of warm colors and lots of black. Barry prefers gray everything. Period. (I tell him gray is fine if you're a sweatshirt.) So he growls at my carefully arranged vignettes of black-and-white photos and etched glass vases and vintage books—all a mixture of texture and color on top of the desk hutch. To him, it's unnecessary clutter.

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May 25

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