Dealing with design help from your spouse

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Forum topic by Crashcup posted 07-12-2019 01:26 PM 1138 views 0 times favorited 43 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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53 posts in 1617 days

07-12-2019 01:26 PM

Hey there, thought I would try to get other opinions, other perspectives on this. Does anyone else get advice from their spouse on a project, that contradicts what you want to do or feel works better? How do you handle it?

I’m making this stuffed animal storage “thing” for our granddaughter:

Granddaughter’s mom dropped a hint last year that she might like one of these:

That’s what I started from, and thought I could make it nicer than the plain screwed-together 2×4’s. Tried to think of what might be a cute theme for this, and came up with the castle angle on it. So I’ve been describing it as a “stuffed animal castle.” The first photo shows a mockup of the lettering I was going to do. Using a “Tudor” font that looks like it fits with the castle style.

So, dear wife comes along while I’m looking at different fonts in MS Word, and says she doesn’t think this one is very nice for a little girl. Instead she suggests a font called “Mystery Quest” that looks like something from the title shot in a 1960’s comedy. Cute… but what does it have to do with castles? Also, she’s “strongly suggesting” that the text should say “Scarlett’s Zoo”... not just her name. Well, to me it’s not a zoo, it’s a castle. And I think that should show from the design, and doesn’t need to be labeled “Castle”.

I guess I feel strongly about my design, and thinking about others seeing it and knowing that grandpa made it, and wanting it to look as good as possible, so part of me wants to go ahead and do what I think fits best with the whole package. But it is for the granddaughter, for her 1st bday. She can’t tell me what she likes better. And my wife thinks that our daughter doesn’t know I’m making it (even though she hinted she wanted one) so asking her what she likes better would ruin the surprise.

So that gets me thinking about – in general – what do other woodworkers do when they get advice that contradicts their best judgement? If it’s a paying client, obviously you can try to win the client over to what you think is the best design, but in the end it’s totally their choice. But with your spouse, it’s more a matter of keeping it “your” project vs keeping peace in the family. Maybe I’m taking it too seriously?

What to the jocks who have been in this situation say?

43 replies so far

View SMP's profile


1176 posts in 323 days

#1 posted 07-12-2019 01:28 PM

1. The boss is always right.
2. See rule 1

View LeeRoyMan's profile


160 posts in 144 days

#2 posted 07-12-2019 01:35 PM

I do whatever the hell I want to do,
(as long as it’s ok with her!)

It depends on how important it is to me. In your case, I don’t think it’s a big deal either way and sometimes you get more points by just doing what they want. You could go through the process of printing out your way and her way and laying them out and then both give your opinions,
(then do it her way of course… lol)

You will still get your kudos for making it, and it looking like a castle.

View Aj2's profile


2321 posts in 2215 days

#3 posted 07-12-2019 01:40 PM

You should always try to include others thoughts and ideas. Or your work will suffer from individualistic beauty.
We want everyone to like our projects not just the people that think like us.
Plus you wife is right it’s a zoo of animals. :)
Good luck I like your idea.

-- Aj

View CaptainKlutz's profile


1491 posts in 1912 days

#4 posted 07-12-2019 01:40 PM

#1) SWMBO design requirements are mandatory in my house. Unless she is not final customer, then the customer is one who gets to decided if the ‘boss’ or the lowly wood worker direction is followed.

#2) Castles have several towers, and moat; you have a single tower? Plus names on castles where 1st thing destroyed after a war, and change in ownership. Hence, names are optional, and don’t get attached to any name.

#3) If you choose to add name; Suggest you make the name on a plaque held in place with screws. Will give you chance to change it later when kid grows up and decides the wooden tower is better used as a plant stand.

Best Luck on your castle siege.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View RobHannon's profile


276 posts in 948 days

#5 posted 07-12-2019 01:47 PM

Generally if my wife has a strong opinion, it is right. If she doesn’t have a strong opinion, she doesn’t offer up much.

If there is a rank higher than wife, it is mother. If it wont ruin a surprise, I would let your daughter pick.

Maybe consider “Menagerie” as a compromise to zoo. Little bit older of a word to fit in with the castle theme and, to me, it also has a chaotic connotation that fits in with toddlers.

View cmacnaughton's profile


5 posts in 62 days

#6 posted 07-12-2019 02:00 PM

It’s better to be happy than it is to be right. And if the spouse is not happy, neither are you!

View Notw's profile


721 posts in 2171 days

#7 posted 07-12-2019 02:19 PM

You think your opinion matters, hahahaha. Typically I am left alone to do my own thing, but I am horrible at picking colors and making things more girly so I always listen to the wife on these topics.

You can either be right or be happy

View DS's profile


3192 posts in 2838 days

#8 posted 07-12-2019 02:33 PM

Is this the hill you want to die on?
Choose your battles wisely my friend.

Only you can determine if the dynamic between you and your wife decides who will prevail, and what the consequences are.

In my house, I always have to convince my wife that I will eagerly paint over that wall if she doesn’t like the color I chose.
Usually, she is happy with my decisions, but admittedly I’ve painted at least one wall twice in rapid succession.

Best of luck to you.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View bondogaposis's profile


5452 posts in 2769 days

#9 posted 07-12-2019 02:50 PM

Tell your wife that she is free to make on these herself and she can design any way she likes.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View xeddog's profile


242 posts in 3425 days

#10 posted 07-12-2019 03:02 PM

You asked what a particular font had to do with castles, but what do stuffed animals have to do with a castle?

As for design input from SWMBO, if what I am making is for her, or for our common use, I will solicit her opinion because dang it, sometimes she has some really good ideas and input.


View jdmaher's profile


458 posts in 2997 days

#11 posted 07-12-2019 04:09 PM

I do what I want and later say “Your idea didn’t work out”. And quickly leave the room.

I always like “input”, but it is “input” – not orders.

In your case:
1. Ask the child’s mother for “input”.
2. Think about it.
3. Go with your gut.

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View pottz's profile


5547 posts in 1402 days

#12 posted 07-12-2019 04:45 PM

generally i do what i wont the way i wont,if it’s for her i will get input and do it the way she wants with my design and wood choice.there’s only one thing more dangerous in a wood shop than sharp tools,it’s a woman with a sharp tongue-LOL!

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View GrantA's profile


1596 posts in 1825 days

#13 posted 07-12-2019 05:31 PM

First off you’re playing with fire. Second, I think how it fits with the rest of the decor where it will go is important. A castle in a room decorated like a rain forest would look out of place. If she has princess decor it’d be great.
I’d suggest looking at Disney princess movie cover art for font ideas. A plaque similar to this would be great and could easily be changed later on. Nothing wrong with having it say Scarlett’s Royal Zoo either

View DrDirt's profile


4575 posts in 4160 days

#14 posted 07-12-2019 06:14 PM

Thinking of “the Man Son”....

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View HokieKen's profile


9933 posts in 1556 days

#15 posted 07-12-2019 06:28 PM

Ha! Mystery Quest font is very reminiscent of Laugh In :-)

For what it’s worth, I think you’re absolutely right. It should say “Scarlett” in Tudor font.

Now print out “Scarlett’s Zoo” in Mystery Quest font and get to work. ‘Cause let’s be honest. Anyone who thinks this is going to end any other way isn’t married.


-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

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