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The many ways loving IKEA furniture can test your marriage (especially in winter)
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Laurie Nigro
The many ways loving IKEA furniture can test your marriage (especially in winter)

Ever have a great idea that you don’t really think all the way through but once you’ve committed, you have to keep going and figure out a way to make it work? It always seems brilliant when you come up with it. And if you somehow manage to make it through, you are not only vindicated, but more likely to say things like, “I told you so,” or, “I don’t know why you doubted me.” I mean, of course it worked. No matter that you had little to nothing to do with the solution.

I have some issues with spatial awareness. As in, I sometimes forget that my house is only 1600 square feet, which means we have small rooms that don’t like things like oversized loft beds and 12-person dining tables. Other times, I think items that I am purchasing are much smaller than they really are while simultaneously believing my vehicle is significantly larger than it really is. These incorrect beliefs have, on one or more occasions, put me in interesting situations. Or, more accurately, they’ve put my husband into interesting situations. Because ultimately, it is he who is responsible for making it work.

I am a tremendous fan of IKEA. Sure, it’s possible that a marriage may not survive the assembly, but the products are inexpensive, environmentally responsible, and the company has a positive corporate stance on many issues that I find important. So when I need pretty much anything for my house, IKEA is my first choice.

On one trip a few years back, I was exceptionally proud of the fact that I had managed to fit all the boxes into my car. I triumphantly took to the driver’s seat and went to pull away from the loading zone, only to realize that the shelf I’d packed in extended from the back window to the windshield and also pressed against the roof, which not only forbid me from seeing my passenger, it also prevented me from seeing anything to my right.

I know. I should have pulled back into the space, unloaded and found another way to transport my new, flat-packed, fight-in-the-making, items to my home. But I had fit it all. ALL of it! It was a magnificent feat of unparalleled skill. And magic. I was on a maniacal high. I was Queen of Tetras. There was no turning back. Plus, I was sure my husband would be a fabulous co-pilot. He could see to the right just fine. Between the two of us, we had the entire visual plane. Never mind that I don’t normally let him drive, due to his lack of attention to detail. He just needed to let me know if there were any vehicles or pedestrians within striking distance. What could go wrong?

Fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it — nothing did go wrong. Not only did we make it home without killing or maiming anyone or anything, we put together all the things without any bad words, adding a notch to our belts and another six or seven allen keys to our collection. However, this only reinforced my bravado and tempted me to increase the risk.

This brings me to last Sunday, a really good deal on a sofa, a store that is a wee bit out of the way, and a touch of winter weather. I had been eyeing this particular piece of furniture for weeks and it had just been marked down 40 percent, so clearly it was a sign that God wanted me to have it. We measured the space where it would go and it was a perfect fit. Another sign. The only little snafu is that the two closest locations to my house were sold out. Though it would require a bit of a ride, it’s not like we had to drive an open wagon across the plains. I didn’t even consider the winter weather advisory. As I pointed out, we’re not dependent on a horse and wagon. The marvels of automobile technology allow us the luxury of both staying dry AND warm, in all types of weather.

I reserved the piece ahead of time. All we had to do was scoot inside and grab it, pull up to the loading dock, and slide the box into the car. The sleet was coming down a little harder, but how long could it possibly take?

It turns out, it took my husband a long time to lash enough twine around the 97-pound box to feel any degree of certainty that it would not fly off the roof of the car while we drove home on the highway. It’s possible that it took so long that he lost all feeling in his fingers and hands since the wind was gusting at 25 miles per hour and the unrelenting sleet was beating down on his gloveless appendages.

“This is how cod fishing feels.”

“So why would you cod fish?”

“Why would you buy a piece of furniture that doesn’t fit in your car?”

“I still think it should have fit.”

“Yes. In a different car that we don’t own.”

“You’re very negative.”

“If you want this thing to make it home, do not drive over 40 miles per hour.”

His negativity persisted. He went on and on about how the freezing precipitation was going to soak through the box and ruin the sofa. He kept saying things like, “why did we do this again?” and “I wish it would stop raining,” and, “you’re insane.” I was feeling very judged.

But guess what? We made it home and so did my new furniture! Not only did it not fly off the roof of my vehicle and kill the people (driving plenty far) behind me, it wasn’t even damp. And it only took like half of the ride for my husband to regain feeling in his fingertips. By the time we got it up a flight of stairs, he was fully defrosted and ready for the required assembly. I feel like he should have apologized.

So, the next time I go furniture shopping, I’ll be prepared for the pessimism. If you don’t shut yourself off to it, he can really ruin the shopping high.

If your significant other also tends towards histrionics and you need to counteract the doubt and keep that negativity out of your life, I strongly recommend finding your zen. Breathe deeply, close your eyes and think happy thoughts. Except maybe don’t do that if you’re driving. Instead, start with some tea. It’ll get you relaxed and ready to meditate once you get home and he/she starts assembly. As an added bonus, a hot cup of tea makes a fabulous hand warmer.

Whiterosesgarden has a simple and warming recipe for a meditation tea. If you don’t have the ingredients on hand, you can also pick up any camomile-based tea (as long as you’re not allergic to ragweed). It has the same relaxing effect. Maybe I’ll even get my husband to drink some. It seems like he could use a little zen.

Laurie Nigro, is the mother of two biological children and one husband. She also takes care of a menagerie of animals that leave throw-up around for her to step in in the middle of the night. Laurie’s passionate about frugal, natural living, which is a nice way of saying she’s a kombucha-brewing, incense-burning, foodie freak who tries really hard not to spend money on crap made by child laborers. You can hear her rant about her muse (aka husband) and other things that have no bearing on your life, in this space each Sunday.

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