How the Internet Saved My Marriage

September 1, 2005

No, really. It's true. You see, I've never mentioned this before because it's kind of embarrassing, but I'm a recovering DIYer. Yes, I know many experts say there's no cure—that, with only one whiff of varnish remover, some people are addicted for life. You get your hands on a stack of shiny new paint samples or a batch of fabric swatches, and the next thing you know you're glued to HGTV all day and clipping pictures out of House Beautiful.

But I'm here to tell you there's hope, and it was the Internet that saved me and my marriage.

In my case DIYism runs in the family. We're genetically predisposed to it. My mother was forever making drapes or dragging us to carpet stores. She once spent the entire month of October in the cellar stripping a 1880s dining room table with four leaves. Like most children of DIYics, I accepted this. To me, this was normal behavior. It was only as an adult that I learned the true nature of the disease.

I started out gradually, with only an occasional throw pillow or maybe matching hand towels. But before too long I was rearranging furniture and coordinating bath accessories. Soon I became the worst kind of DIYer—the endless re-decorator. One year I repainted the living room a completely new color...four times. And I didn't stop at paint. To achieve just the right look, of course, required new furniture and slipcovers and pillows and window treatments and rugs and...

Well, you can imagine what a strain this might put on a marriage. Besides never being able to walk around the house in the dark, my husband began to grow a teensy bit concerned about the state of our credit cards. Of course, he knew all about my family history. He understood that I had some sort of mutated, defective decorating gene. He tried to be kind and patient, but there's a limit.

"So, I was thinking a sort of greco-classical muted-putty kind of distressed stone--"


"--like an ancient wine cellar thing--"


"--sort of a 'Mediterranean subterranean' look."


"But what a great look for a kitchen, and it would only cost..."

When I wanted to give the spare bathroom a Mexican fiesta theme, it was obvious even to me that I needed help.

Entirely by coincidence, this was about the time I was introduced to the Internet. It was 1997. I was weighing the advantages of saltillo tile over honey oak planking. Little did I know the Internet was about to save me and my marriage.

In 1997 the Internet was not quite so, well, stylish as it is today. In fact, a lot of it was downright butt ugly. Gray backgrounds, blinking arrows, scrolling marques, pimply-looking bullets and hideous neon text predominated. Even I could do better, I remember thinking. So, intending only to put up a quick site about my books, I sat down with the 3rd edition of HTML for Dummies on my lap and started pecking out code.

My first creation was a scholarly literary-looking page that I grew tired of after three days. Next came a lighter, more delicate look in soft, feminine pastels that wasn't anything like me, but was fun to design. After that I went with a sort of Medieval illuminated manuscript thing, until the day I decided to try the Mexican fiesta theme on my site instead of the spare bathroom and...

Well, as they say, the rest is history. No longer was I held hostage by Home Depot and Ethan Allen. HGTV learned to live without me, though I heard our local Sherwin-Williams store held a day of mourning. Our credit cards rebounded, and my painting tools and sewing machine gathered dust.

Against all odds, I'd fought the disease and won—with scarcely any withdrawal symptoms. No longer was I a DIYer, an incurable re-decorator. I'd met the Internet, and it'd saved me.

I was a web designer.


How did you get started in web design? What started it all for you?