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Furniture shopping really does kill relationships

This is why 15% of couples–the smart ones–avoid furniture shopping with their partner altogether.

Furniture shopping really does kill relationships
[Photo: Ulrich Baumgarten/Getty Images]

First comes love. Then comes moving in. And then, like clockwork, the fighting begins.

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You ask yourself: How on Earth did you sleep with someone with taste so horrendous, they buy cushions the color of regurgitated cat food? Do you love this person enough to drop $2,000 of your hard-earned cash on a brown midcentury modern sofa that they adore, but you think is rather banal and boring? Will your relationship end right here, in the aisle of this poorly lit furniture store?

You’re not alone. The data is in and the facts are inescapable. Furniture shopping is romantically ruinous.

Online furniture brand Article recently conducted a survey of 2,000 American adults with the polling company OnePoll to better understanding the pain points of furniture shopping. And one fact quickly became apparent. All the decision-making, particularly around such expensive items, puts a lot of strain on relationships.

The average American couple has 72 arguments around purchasing decisions when setting up their homes. This is a process that takes, on average, 216 hours. And we have found a way to make each of those hours a moment to yell at our partners over the minutiae of our shared living space.

[Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images]

But the thing is, furniture shopping provides many unique avenues for potential arguments: You can disagree about budgets and prices, then there’s differences in taste. All of this can leave you with a sinking feeling that you may be stuck, forever, living in an ugly home because of your partner’s love of cat photos and the color purple.

The fighting isn’t limited to the furniture store. In fact, only eight of the total 72 arguments the average couple will have setting up a new home happen there. Fifteen tiffs happen inside the home the couple is trying to decorate. Four happen on an airplane. A full 10 fights will happen in front of a friend or family member. (This is likely strategic: If you can get this third party on your side, you can gang up against your partner.) And the remaining 35 fights are spread out, spontaneously happening in places like parks, libraries, or on the street. I once fought with a boyfriend in a movie theatre after seeing a cinematic shot of a beautifully styled apartment that I was sure I would never have because of the said boyfriend’s awful taste.

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We all implicitly understand that furniture is a romance-killer. This is why 15% of couples–the smart ones–avoid furniture shopping with their partner altogether. And bad experiences with home decor shopping in the past has led 58% of people to hold back from sharing their opinions, in an effort to avoid a disagreement with their partner.

These last few statistics remind me a lot of my marriage, which has thankfully lasted six and a half years. For those of you who are looking to achieve this kind of longevity in your own marriage, let me give you some advice: If you happen to be the more design-oriented (or maybe just more opinionated) member of the couple, make it clear early on that you will wield an iron fist when it comes to home decor decisions in your home. Eventually, if you’re lucky, like me, your spouse with bad taste will eventually stop offering their opinion, like 58% of the population seeking to preserve their fragile relationship.

So there you have it: The secret to marital bliss. You’re welcome.

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About the author

Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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