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Valentine’s Day Reflections: Finding Harmony in Our 10 x 45 Love Nest

February 15, 2016

What was the first place like which you and your spouse lived in as a married couple? Your love nest, the place you came home to after your honeymoon? Why do we remember those pathetic first places with such rose colored glasses?

I was telling someone the other day we lived in a 10 by 45 foot trailer, which included the outside length of the trailer hitch. Roughly 400 square feet inside. Even that is bigger than today’s “tiny houses” that run from 100 to 400 well-arranged square feet.

Bachelorpad

Stuart’s bachelor pad, before.

I worked very hard with my fiancé to turn his bachelor pad (above) into a suitable honeymoon haven. The interior walls of the mobile home were covered, as were most, in the typical faux wood paneling of the day.

Wallpaper

Same wall after I supplied some homey touches.

I brightened the living room with stripped wall paper and new drapery, both ordered from Sears of course. (I had almost forgotten about the hip bangle light there!)

TrailerKitchen

Kitchen in our mobile home.

I made cute little curtains for the kitchen. Stuart installed blue carpeting throughout which helped warm the nondescript beige vinyl flooring tremendously. In the living room we also used a mod 5 x 6 foot area rug which I duck taped together in college (shag multi-colored samples from a carpet store, but I can’t remember if I got them free).

ShagCarpet

Shag! carpet.

But I loved the high dollar sofa we were able to have (blue and green floral). Somewhere along the line while engaged I won or received a $150 gift certificate to a small custom home decorating/furniture place called Mary Glick’s (long since out of business). The sofa, originally in the $300-400 range (1976 prices) had been marked down to maybe $190 and thus our first sofa was low cost but well made. We kept that sofa when we eventually moved to a much bigger abode in 1977, and it lasted through the first 10-15 years or so of raising our family.

sofacropped

Sofa.

But more than the space, it was special because it was ours (paid off), and we only had to pay $45 or 50 a month in lot rent. Cheapest living year ever. And yes, we used that opportunity to save up for a down payment on our first home.

LivingRoom

Living area. The trailer also had 2 bedrooms.

I think that those first apartments, trailers/mobile homes, basements, or houses most of us occupy the first year or two of married life feel special because for many of us (especially when we hang on to that partner for 30, 40, 50 or more years), it is the first time we ever truly had the opportunity to make a space our own. The memory of all those new household gifts from family and friends from showers and the wedding, add to the shiny memories.

StuartAndCat

Contented husband and cat, with a throw protecting the new sofa.

As children many of us “played house” endlessly, creating homes out of blankets tossed over tables, or among sticks gathered and stacked in the woods, or on stones using leaves and nuts for “food,” or forts of snow and ice, or playhouses if we were lucky.

P1020928

Our three daughters playing house years later. Notice the design of the now faded throw.

Thus it is not only the romance of new love that makes our memories special, but the move from playing house to establishing a new real home that lingers in our memories.

That first place is also often where we have our first arguments and marital disappointments, when we burn the dinner and discover their (or our own) major flaws.

Those of us with enduring and loving marriages (hanging on in times of disillusionment and apologizing after driving off in a huff) look back on our first home, no matter how humble, cramped or miserable, as the tender incubator of young love.

Many of us need this reminder from 1 Peter 4:8: frequently throughout marriage: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.”

HoneymoonCar

Our honeymoon car, a 1974 Dodge Dart.

***

What was your first space like after you got married?

What do you think helps us treasure those memories? 

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From → Faith, Family Life

9 Comments
  1. Caro - Claire Wiles permalink

    Hi Melodie
    Your blog today triggered long forgotten memories of our first Valentine’s together.
    When we got married in 1956 my husband began his first job right after our honeymoon at Bell Canada as a telephone installer.
    He was making $42.50 a week and we had a one bedroom apartment that we were paying $92.00 a month.
    I packed a bag lunch for my husband every day and gave him .10 cents for a morning and afternoon coffee. I looked after the bills and we actually saved a bit!
    However after our first child was born, my parents offered to sell their home and buy a home where we could live with them in our own apartment , paying a token rent, but also allowing us to save up for an eventual home of our own.
    We saved diligently for the next three years during which time our second child was born and by that time we had saved up $1500.00 which allowed us to put a down payment on our first home , a semi detached bungalow that cost a fortune for us of $12.000!
    Those were not always easy days for us but we have survived now and lived through many wonderful but also many tumultuous times and in May this year , I will be celebrating 60 years of marriage with my one and only Valentine . To God be the glory!

  2. Wonderful details you have recalled. Wow, $12,000. I assume this was in Canada? While we saved, we also had help from my husband’s father and brother to make our downpayment, although we paid back every penny, except for the Christmases when he “forgave” a certain amount of our debt several times. I like when families can help each other although things don’t always work out. Nice for your parents to let you live with them for a token rent! Thanks for telling your own wonderful story, Caro-Claire, and I’m sure you’ll do some celebrating in May! We pass the 40 year mark this May as well. 🙂

  3. After our wedding I moved into Cliff’s “bachelor pad,” a $ 50.00/month garage apartment in 1967. Ours could pass as a 1960s museum of cheap fashion as your 1970s model does above. I have a photo of a travel trailer similar to what our family used for two years when Cliff was launching his art performance career. No interior photos – darn!

    What helps us treasure these memories? My take: They served as a solid foundation built on love grown stronger over the years and circumstances that have improved greatly. 🙂

    • Marian, thanks for your take and garage apartment description! Yes, a solid foundation built by our own parents and church community which stressed the commitment of marriage “til death do us part.” I do not judge those who have had similar foundations yet for whatever reasons, had to painfully split or start over in a new marriage, but fortunate indeed are those of us who were able to hang on to young love and not only improve housing conditions through the years but hopefully the marriage relationship as well.

  4. Catherine Carrier permalink

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I remember your little girls looking just as they are in the photo you posted, as well as your youthful husband. So glad you have shared a marriage built on such a strong foundation.

    • And I remember you as a young girl just a few years older than our daughters in this photo. 🙂 I know you were raised to enjoy creative and imaginative play as well. Thanks for commenting here!

  5. Athanasia permalink

    Melodie, such a cute picture of your girls in their tent. We made tents in the yard by throwing an old blanket over the clothesline and pegging the sides down into the ground with wooden clothesline. My sister and I loved to play house.

    Our first house was the apartment over the garage at our family house (grandmother’s). It was pretty minimal…one bedroom, bathroom, kitchen-dining-living room combo. It had a little old fashioned round top refrigerator with the freezer inside. No stove. We had a hot pot and an electric skillet. We didn’t need to do much cooking as we ate dinner every night next door with my parents and maternal grandparents. My youngest brother was still at home (in college) who was actually same age as my husband (5 years younger than me).

    It was furnished with all hand me downs. There was the 1960’s nylon dark green sofa from the big house…big wide flat armrests. Over the back were throws made by my grandma. We had a small maple kitchen table with 4 chairs, also just as old. But we still have that set. It’s been refinished by my husband and children as a learning project, twice over the years. It is still up in that apartment. Start with a good piece of furniture, real wood, and you’ll have it forever (this is to quote my husband, the woodworker). We had a wonderful time living there as newlyweds.

    It has another newlywed couple as of tonight. We rented it out again . They were married Friday and had a short honeymoon. We gave them February rent free as they did so much work on the place for us…painted, put in the new linoleum and carpet, sanded and varnished woodwork and cupboards. My nephew had been living there 2 years but ate most meals with us so it really needed updating. We found apartment size stove and fridge to give them a real kitchen. I think they will be very happy there too.

    • I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a refrigerator like the one you speak of but I do think I’ve seen pictures or maybe in a museum! How quaint. And that sounds lucky to be able to eat with parents and grandparents for awhile!

      Yes, hand me downs! My oldest daughter “inherited” some hand me downs from her husband’s family and they still have most of that furniture now in their 3 bedroom split level. I’m glad they also inherited the willingness to use older furniture and save money!

      The ending to your post here is lovely–passing on the newlywed space to a new couple! Great timing! I’ll breath a prayer of good wishes and blessing for the new young couple as they start out too. Love it!

      • Athanasia permalink

        Hmm, I don’t remember the brand name. But it wasn’t as tall as refrigerators of today. I could see onto the top of it. But it had a top with rounded edges, kind of like the top of a mantle clock? One door with a latch that you pulled out and down to open. Not familiar at all?

        And I see my typo…my kindle is always auto correcting to what it thinks I want to say. Wooden
        clothespins! The one that didn’t hinge and were good for making dolls out of, too.

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