Sunday, March 17, 2019

Clint Harp on Why Marriage is a Funeral

"Marriage is a funeral." That's probably one of the last things I expected to hear Clint Harp say when I was invited to attend a meet and greet interview with him last week before the Johnson County Home and Garden Show. Clint is best known for his role as a carpenter on Fixer Upper, but he has also been busy with his own DIY Network Show, Wood Work, and a recently released book Handcrafted. Clint's journey with Harp Design Co. is pretty inspiring, and I was so excited to meet him in person!

My husband, Aaron, was also able to come along with me, which was extra exciting because he teaches a basic woodworking class at his school and loves to build things on the side (like our front room pew). One thing that we liked about Clint was how down to earth he was, along with the fact that he loves to share his story in hopes of inspiring others along the way. Handcrafted isn't all about woodworking, but rather the story that brought Clint to where he is on his journey- all the tiny little steps and people along the way that led him here.

Clint runs Harp Design Co. with his wife Kelly, so they are not only spouses but also business partners. I asked Clint if he had any tips for working with your spouse, and he responded with “Be very careful. It’s hard.” This led into some really beautiful points about marriage (and even business/life in general):

Marriage is a funeral.

“Marriage done well is you allowing this person that you have created to protect you from everything else, to control everything around you, that person has to die. That person is not going to do you any good moving forward.” Man, I love this point, and it is SO true. Numerous times I have found myself sitting in my stubbornness, wanting things a certain way- and not wanting someone else to mess it up. But as Clint said, “That is not going to let me survive, that’s going to kill my marriage.” So marriage is not a funeral because you’re stuck with someone else forever and dying as a result, but rather because you need to die to yourself in order to be willing to open up and let someone else in. That’s love right there. 

Let them royally screw up.

According to Clint, this idea is even harder in business, where you freak out even more about decisions, and feel like everything will undoubtedly fail if you don’t get your way with how high the curtains are hung or what color you’re going to paint the walls. But I loved Clint’s point in this. That in so many areas, “If we want to get better, we have to let each other try things and mess up- to fail in order to get better.” And this is something I’m also not so good at, but it’s so true. Just like I don’t expect perfection from my students - we can’t expect perfection in life, and we certainly can’t expect it from our spouse or loved ones. So let go. Let them royally screw up, and don’t be mean about it. Give them room to grow, and go work on things that you’re good at.

Let them own it. Stay in your lane.

Clint has learned that he has to step out of the way in several areas and “Let [Kelly] own it— and she lets me own my stuff, and the more we do that with each other the better it gets.” Clint also has this same approach with his employees, and I love that. No one can feel good about what they’re doing if no one lets them truly do it, or if they constantly feel you breathing down their neck. And when you stay in your lane and let other people be in theirs, it’s a beautiful thing when they start asking you to come into their lane- to help them out, and to just them be themselves but “when you are constantly forcing yourself on each other, it doesn’t happen”. Yes. We may be offense and defense, but we’re all on the same team. That’s powerful stuff. I think it’s a safe bet that Clint’s employees, along with his wife Kelly, appreciate this approach, and I’m pretty dang inspired to do the same in my own life.

In case you're interested in other nuggets from Clint:

We knew that Clint started his business with really no money, so we asked him what advice he had for those lacking the finances to fund their dreams. His answer: take the little steps. Keep taking tiny steps along the way, even when you can't see the end result yet. This is how he ended up going from totally broke to someone who now employs over 30 people. He may have only been able to pay his first employee $750 cash every two weeks, but with the help of local bankers, they just kept inching their way forwards towards their dreams.

Clint's story is an incredible testament to the idea that one little small thing can set you on a crazy path to something huge. From time working in ministry, serving as a missionary overseas, taking a medical sales job, moving back to Waco, volunteering at Habitat for Humanity, and then eventually buying the Habitat building for a shop, along with buying the house next door for $10,000: it has been a crazy ride. Oh, and did you know that he met Chip Gaines at a gas station one day while filling up after playing at the park with his kids? If you remove any of those small steps, there's a chance that none of it may have happened. That's inspiring. Nothing is by chance. Nothing is wasted!

You can read all about this (and more) in Handcrafted. I'm reading it on my trip this week, and I can't wait to let you know what I think. (Be sure to follow along on Instagram for more!) In the meantime, visit the Harp Design Co. website at and use code HARP10 for 10% off of your purchase of anything! Treat yourself!



  1. Wow! What an awesome perspective for sure. Truly loved this - was refreshing to read. So cool you got to meet him and attend!

    1. It was so refreshing to hear and I have loved applying it to our marriage lately. It was so great. Thanks for reading!

  2. Wow! What an interesting take on life. Sounds like a really cool meet and greet. Thanks for sharing!


Have a question or comment?