Unfinished Projects


My husband keeps starting projects on our home—then doesn’t finish them! Right now, it’s the kitchen. He tore it up—there’s no ceiling or flooring, no plumbing, tools are strewn all over the house, the kitchen stuff is either put away or on my dining room table, and the dust is settling in the rest of the house. But when he comes home from work, he sits in front of the computer or the TV, and gives excuses about why he can’t complete the job. This has been going on for seven months and I can’t take it anymore!


Wow, this must be extremely frustrating for you. We want to congratulate you for lasting seven months. In these kinds of situations, the first step is to make sure you've clearly communicated your concerns. Many people express their concerns to their spouse but don’t do it in ways that will maximize the probability of those concerns being heard and understood.

When we communicate a message that involves a lot of frustration on our part and has the potential to lead to unhealthy conflict, it’s critical that we consider what we want to say, how we want to say it, and when is the best time for us to talk about it.

Start by making a list of your and your family's concerns. Be specific. Include how long the situation has affected you and the family and what it’s like for each of you to live under those conditions. Make sure that when you talk with him, you aren’t allowing your frustration to overwhelm you and cause the conversation to come off as an attack. Ask God to help you to, in the words of Ephesians 4:15, “speak the truth in love.” Also, make sure you talk with him at a time when he is more likely to be fresh, rested and open.

If that doesn’t help, then you might write your concerns to him in a note or email. Many men find it easier to talk about something after they’ve had a chance to process it. Be sure to share how it is a problem for you and the family, the inconvenience it involves and the embarrassment when friends come over as well as what you feel as a result of the constant chaos. If it were me I would feel dishonored, disrespected, and discouraged. Help him see what this looks like through the eyes of you and the kids.

Then, ask him for some solutions to the problem that would acknowledge and respect the needs of the entire family. You might also ask him if there are things that you or others in the family could do to help him finish the projects or if you can’t actually “do” anything to help, perhaps you could free up some time for him to complete it.

We heard of a couple with a similar problem but the “project person” was the wife. She sounds a lot like your husband except she wouldn’t sit at the computer or watch TV, she would start new projects. With the help of their pastor they decided they would discuss projects that would affect the living space of others in the family. Any project involving mutual living space would have a completion date. She volunteered that if the project wasn’t done she couldn’t have her hair or nails done until the project was completed.

That may sound silly but it worked for them. If these suggestions don’t work you might need to meet with your pastor or a licensed marriage counselor. While this is a pressing problem for you, don’t forget that the most important issue is for you to deal with this problem in ways that take advantage of the resources God has given you through His word and your Christian friends. This will make it more likely for you to not just solve a problem but also to strengthen your marriage.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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