Like most new couples, during our courtship phase, my husband Micheal and I would spend many hours talking about our hopes, dreams and plans for the future.  One night I asked him a question that had once been posed to me by a holistic doctor – “if you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want to have with you?”  Micheal immediately answered, “food, water, shelter”.  My jaw dropped and I must have had a stunned look on my face because Micheal said “What’s wrong?  Why do you look so shocked?”  I responded that I’d never thought of those things before!  He was dumbfounded and asked what three things I would consider to be most important … my response was “my fur kids, art supplies and music”.  Now it was Micheal’s turn to be flabbergasted – and thus began the union of Form and Function.

Over the years Micheal and I have had a subtle on-going battle over which is more ‘important’, form or function.  I contend that they are both essential and that one complements the other.  He, on the other hand, insists that function plays a greater role because one can’t survive without the bare necessities (food/water/shelter).  Micheal does have a point, however, I choose to believe that to truly ‘live’, form plays an equally important role.  Quite simply, I can’t imagine a life without beauty, passion or purpose.  I believe that in order to thrive, we must do more than merely survive.

As we’ve renovated several old buildings together, Micheal and I have stuck to our form and function roles.  It serves us well and curtails any major arguments often faced by couples undertaking renovation projects.  Our rule is, if it has to do with how it ‘works’, Micheal gets the deciding vote (ie, electrical and plumbing design, structural issues, etc.) and if it has to do with how it ‘looks’, that’s my domain and I have the final say.

At this point in the renovation, function has been dominant - and the objective of providing shelter has been met.

At this point in the renovation, function has been dominant – and the objective of providing shelter has been met.

Form joins Function - now it's more than just shelter, it's a home!

Form joins Function – now it’s more than just shelter, it’s a home!

Although this works well in respect to our renovation projects, in other aspects of our lives – and the lives of many others, I’m sure – the quintessential question still remains:  is function more important than form?  Traditionally, men earned the money, provided the food/ water/shelter and women took care of the house and children, providing all the ‘extras’ – a warm inviting home, clean laundry, delicious meals to name a few – that, in my opinion, make life worth living.  As our world has evolved and more women have joined the work force, either by choice or necessity, the lines of form and function have blurred.

When Micheal and I first got married, we were equal partners in all aspects, including financially.  I had a successful decorative painting business and we split everything equally including the household bills and chores.  As the economy began to nose dive, so did my business.  I also began to get more involved in rescue and eventually started Daisy’s Place Retriever Rescue, which consumes a lot of my time and resources.  Thankfully, I was able to transition into jewelry design, but it’s been a slow financial recovery period and when I’m not in my studio, I’m spending the majority of my time saving grey muzzles.  The bulk of the financial burden has fallen on Micheal and although he tries to be supportive as I follow my bliss, this shift has been the source of friction in our marriage.

He gets frustrated with the amount of time I spend on rescue when I ‘should’ (in his opinion) be focusing on building my business. I, in turn, get upset that he doesn’t see the value of what I bring to the table – the beautiful home that I’ve created for us, the delicious dinners I prepare, and the many intangibles that I believe create a beautiful life.  In his mind, function has become even more important because he’s now providing the food/water/shelter.  Now, I must add, I realize that he carries a heavy load right now – money is not flowing as it used to and with my limited financial contribution it falls on him to make sure we have a roof over our head so that I can continue to enjoy my studio, yoga room – and pursuing my passions, most importantly, saving the Daisy Dogs.  And yet, I still believe that what I’m contributing to our life together has as much value as the almighty dollar.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be earning what I used to – I’m independent by nature and it’s not easy for me to rely on someone (even my own husband) to provide for my basic necessities.  However, I cling to the notion that ‘form’ is essential to our existence.  I could go back to the corporate world (prior to decorative painting, I made my living as a PR professional), but the very idea sends shivers of anxiety ricocheting up and down my spine.  Without passion and purpose, I’m quite sure I could no longer thrive.  I might be able to exist, but my inner spark would surely flicker and die.

What was once a perfect union of form and function has become a power struggle.  Much like the chicken and the egg, it all depends on your point of view.  I’m curious to hear feedback from any of you reading this – is function more important than form, or are both equal parts of the whole?

Many blessings,

Melissa

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