Why Painting Your Home Can Be Good for Your Relationship

published Apr 26, 2019
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My husband and I have a bit of a country mouse, city mouse relationship–he grew up in rural Virginia surrounded by cattle and I grew up in Los Angeles surrounded by professors.

Normally we’re two peas in a pod, but occasionally we’re reminded of our different upbringings in unexpected ways—like when we were picking paint colors to paint our first apartment together. We split up to pick out options for the living room, and when we reunited to compare, I had chosen a deep blue that happened to be named ‘Intellectual Elite’ while my husband chose a shade of clay red titled… ‘Country Baked Beans.’

I got to wondering if colors can reveal more about your relationship than meets the eye, and if the colors we choose to surround ourselves with can give us a window into our psyche. So I asked two relationship experts, Dr. Amie Harwick, a marriage and family therapist who has a private practice in West Hollywood, California, and Erin Tillman, the Dating Advice Girl and author of the book “The Consent Guidebook,” for their thoughts about color, relationships, and surviving a move. Here’s everything they say can be drummed up, emotionally, while painting a room as a couple:

Do you think the colors you are attracted to say anything about your personality and upbringing?

Dr. Amie Harwick: Yes and no, the colors that you are attracted to may indicate factors about your personality or upbringing—if there were certain colors that elicited positive feelings while growing up, those colors may feel more attractive to you or vice versa. There are many opinions about how color impacts mood but very little hard scientific research as most theories are based on practicality, art, and design. The reality is, your own individual perception and experience may impact how you view a particular color and what type of feeling it may elicit, so it might give an insight into your past but not your personality.

Choosing paint color for walls can be an intimate and important decision, any tips for couples who can’t agree on what colors to choose?

Erin Tillman: If you and your partner can’t agree on a color for a specific room, think about adjusting your expectations—consider just having an accent wall with a color you can agree upon. Or maybe instead of painting a room a specific color, choose furniture, paintings, and accent pieces with your colors instead.

If a couple can’t decide on a color scheme, does that indicate potential larger issues in a relationship?

Dr. Amie Harwick: Don’t worry if you cannot choose a paint color together—this is not an indicator of an overall issue in the relationship but rather an issue with communication and compromise, which is a common issue for many couples. If no decision can be reached, take a break for a day. Then write down your feelings about your color preferences and carve out a time and space to talk about this, in which you go over what you individually have written down.

Moving and painting can be stressful for a couple, any tips to counteract that stress?

Erin Tillman: Make a plan! To avoid feeling overwhelmed, start the packing process a little at a time. Also, split the tasks based on what each of you would prefer. If you both hate the same tasks, struggle through them together and make it fun by sharing a glass of wine and listening to your favorite podcast during the process.

Are there any colors to avoid because of the reactions they provoke?

Dr. Amie Harwick: There is no definitive answer on colors to avoid that may invoke negative feelings. Some people may say that red invokes anger or black is negative. But there are many ways to make these colors feel classic and soothing. Since the color is about your emotional connection, it’s up to you and your perception.

For couples moving in together, does painting help make the space feel theirs?

Erin Tillman: Any shared task or activity can build a connection between partners, especially if you can infuse fun into the process. Painting and decorating together is a great way to bring the couple’s personality into the space and transform it into something new that feels like an expression of who they are as a couple.

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