You have to agree to disagree

PHOTO COURTESY OF DIY NETWORKFred and Natasha Ruckel of the DIY Network show “Dream House” compromised and used their communication skills while building their Catskills log cabin. Fred and Natasha Ruckel are one couple who have learned firsthand how to get through a home construction project with their relationship still intact. The Manhattan residents, who star in the DIY Network series “Dream House,” have worked tirelessly the last couple of years to bring their Catskills cabin to completion, managing through it all to keep their cool with each other and avoid any major blowouts. Theyve learned not every couple is as fortunate. “Everyone I talked to said talk to me when this is over and let me know if youre still together,” Fred Ruckel recalled during a recent interview. “I personally dont get it. I dont fight,” he continued. “For me, theres no reason to get mad at silly things in life.” The Ruckels journey to their dream home began several years back when Natasha, who was living in Canada at the time, met Fred on a business trip to New York. The two maintained a long-distance relationship and talked via video chat, which they believe helped establish their communication skills. On their drive to Manhattan from Canada after Natasha quit her high-profile marketing job to marry Fred, the couple were passing log homes and both revealed the same sentiment: “I always wanted one.” They married in late 2006 and started planning their dream home about six months later, having skipped a honeymoon to get started. Their idea snowballed from building their perfect place, to making it the “ultimate green house.” Although they never had a major fight, The Ruckels admit there were some disagreements along the way. Fred would always dream big while Natasha kept him grounded. “We kind of both let each other win a lot,” said Fred, creative director of Stitch Motion Graphics in Manhattan. “You have to pick your battles,” he said. “If she wanted to have the walls be blue and I wanted them gray, Im not going to start an argument on the color of the wall.” PHOTO COURTESY OF DIY NETWORKFred and Natasha Ruckel of the DIY Network show “Dream House” take a break from staining the master bedroom walls and ceiling of their log cabin home.  One issue that came up at times was money. Fred, believing the core of everything is solid infrastructure, wanted to put in a roof that cost $60,000; his wife didnt understand why, when a roof could be built for a fraction of the cost. The same went for the windows, top-of-the-line energy efficient models that cost about $75,000. “The big thing was getting the wife to understand that infrastructure is really important,” Fred said, emphasizing, “You want to build it once and build it right.” AVOID CONFLICT To avoid conflict, Fred advises couples to make a list of everything they want to get out of their home or space and draw a picture of what it should look like. Also discuss expenses, he counseled, factoring in that youre likely to spend more than you expect. Not doing so can lead to stress and fighting.  While filming their cable show, Fred did get into a few heated exchanges with contractors, but he never let it affect his relationship with Natasha. “A lot of times couples argue with each other over something a contractor did,” Fred said, observing. “What theyre doing is projecting their anger at the contractor on the person they love the most. They blame them for what went wrong. We just shrug it off and its funny,” he said. Ultimately, for the Ruckels, as for most other couples, it boils down to one common denominator: communication. “As much as it seems like a small factor, it really is a big thing,” Ruckel insisted. “Being able to talk to your partner about what is going on in your head or life is really important.” To see the Ruckels in action, check out new episodes of “Dream House” Sundays at 8. To learn more visit www.diynetwork.com or check out the Ruckels website, www.greenloghome.com.

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