My husband has been sighing and pointing out these small cracks down the plaster of our living room for months. I know what they mean but I haven’t been too worried. Until the tiles on our kitchen floor started cracking audibly.
Then a few weeks ago, a friend pointed out a crack down the front side of our house. Not the inside, but through the actual brick, and this one was not little but a huge gaping ridge. We called out a foundation company and got an estimate. Then, of course, we had to get a loan. A really big loan.
Cracks in the foundation have also meant we had to call a plumber. We need to have some trees removed and install a French drain in the backyard. Eventually, we will need to retile the kitchen. Things are adding up quickly with more than a few zeros on the end.
To Avoid or Not to Avoid?
My first response, like with most cracks, was to consider what would happen if I ignored them. How bad could it be, did I really need to sink thousands (and thousands) of dollars into them? I had to hit up Google since I am clearly not a foundation (or plumbing or tree removal) expert. The internet was clear. If you ignore the cracks a few terrible things will happen and very likely in this order:
2. Next, water seeps in. Mold and mildew. Things start to rot.
3. Pests infestation. Hell to the no.
4. Gas intrusion. So pretty much it is toxic and unlivable.
We all have our cracks and I’m starting to see that pattern is applicable to more than just my concrete slab. This little crack is making us take out a huge loan, which is drawing our attention to our lack of a budget. My husband and I both have really good jobs and no overtly ridiculous spending habits. We don’t generally buy expensive brands. We don’t have luxury vehicles. I’ve never stepped foot in a Sephora.
If you are into those things, props to you—I just can’t make it work even with my Target tastes. Possibly because I waste money in a hundred small ways and we have a kid starting college in less than a year. College is so expensive now, I think I could sell both kidneys on the black market and only cover half.
Don’t Give the Cracks a Chance to Grow
I knew we were overspending, but my initial response, just like the cracks in my wall, was to hope it would go away. That this had been an expensive month for whatever legit reason and next month we’d get back on track. Except, that deficit just grew.
We had the occasional fight about how to approach it (or not) and our bank account didn’t mildew, but other things started to stink. Resentment and grudges began to sneak in. (You can’t just call an exterminator for those kinds of pests.) We managed to work out a system before anything got worse, but I’ve seen others that let it keep going and become toxic. I’ve seen people and relationships break over something that started as just a crack. Everyone has cracks. Cracks in our family dynamics, with colleagues, in our faith communities, friendships, marriages, and physical health. I could keep adding to this list.
The contractors and engineers showed up last week. When I left for work my home looked normal, when I went by at lunch they had dug up my entire flower bed, jackhammered their way through the sidewalk and driveway and no less than eight full-grown men were under my house.
A Lesson to Avoid Avoidance
When I got home my house looked totally normal (minus the rose bushes and freshly poured patches in the concrete). The cracks had been visibly brought back together. I could still see where they used to be, but I really had to look. Of course, I grabbed a stick and quickly put our initials in the wet concrete. A reminder to never let cracks grow. A reminder of what I’m learning:
—Look at your cracks. Maybe you are wiser than me and can deal with them before they start to stink, but I generally need a push to change my habits.
—Do the work. Invest. Have the hard conversation. Fix the foundation.
—Fixing the cracks in our foundation is expensive and disruptive, but not fixing them will always cost more.
Interested in more relationship advice? Start with this podcast episode: How to Feel Your Emotions in a Healthy Way With Dr. Zoe Shaw – 075