Warning: Shopping For Furniture Just Might Destroy Your Marriage

by Clint Edwards
Originally Published: 
Getty/ Jeff Greenberg

My wife and I recently sold a house, and bought a new house, and somehow that all resulted in us having money for a new bedroom set. I set a little bit aside to pay for delivery and assembly because as cliché as this statement has become, furniture assembly instructions really should come with marriage counseling. I learned that the hard way a few years ago.

This was the first time in our 14 years together that we’d ever actually had money to shop for furniture for a whole room. Most of our previous bedroom set had been a hodgepodge of particleboard and laminate outfits along with Rubbermaid style plastic something or others with drawers made from rigid plastic.

We were both excited to go shopping, which was naive, because that act of actually shopping, the decisions, the picking this over that, were a wonderful test of our marriage.

We argued over the size of the bed. Mel wanted a king. I wanted a queen.

We argued over the color of the wood. I wanted dark. Mel wanted redwood.

We argued in the car, at the store, in the kitchen, and… well… you get the idea.

Once the set was actually purchased and delivered, neither of us were 100% happy with the outcome, which basically means our bedroom set sits in our room like a constant reminder of an unsavory experience.

But hey, that’s compromise… right?

Turns out, our experience furniture shopping isn’t unique. Online furniture brand Article recently conducted a survey of 2,000 Americans to better understanding the struggle that is furniture shopping, and they found that decision-making, particularly around expensive items like furniture, puts a serious strain on relationships.

According to their findings, each year the average couple will have around 72 disagreements about decor style, purchasing decisions, and furniture purchases. I’m with you, that seems like a lot of arguments considering there are only 365 days in a year. If those 72 arguments happened on different days, that means the average couple spends 20% of their year arguing over decor and furniture. Let that sink in.

Article broke down those 72 arguments based on location just so you can have a better idea of what to expect. According to their calculations, eight of those arguments will occur at the store, which makes sense while also making me never want to work in a furniture store. Fifteen arguments happen inside of the home in question, which isn’t surprising. In fact, I assumed this number would be higher.

Ten fights will happen in front of a friend or family member. This is where you ask your mother to back you up on why your partner’s taste is garbage.

Four fights will happen… on an airplane. I’ll be honest, this one lost me.

And the remaining 35 fights were pretty spread out, but were most likely to occur in a movie theatre, library, or amusement park. I can see the headline now “Wife Shoves Husband Off Rollercoaster Over Coffee Table Selection.”

Obviously, arguing about furniture happens in some unexpected places, but what are people doing to deal with this? Well, that’s mixed, too. 15% of Americans avoid going to the furniture store with their partner because the visit always leaves them feeling grumpy (well… obviously). 21% described shopping with their partner as “annoying,” while a whopping 58% simply don’t offer their opinion, staving off fights altogether, and leaving one spouse (let’s be real, it’s probably the wife) with the full emotional labor of decorating the house while also doing ALL the other things.

Article rubbed some dirt in it to find out what exactly these fights were about, and found that budget, furniture styles, and color selection were the leading causes.

Please keep in mind that this is an upper-middle-class to upper-class issue. Until Mel and I actually had money for that bedroom set, we never once fought over furniture. Most of the time we just went to better-off family members homes and asked, “Are you throwing that out? Because I could use it.” It wasn’t about choice; it was about what was free. However, if you are in the throes of it with your spouse over your home decor, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone.

Usually I’d try to end with some sort of advice on how to make this whole process a little less stressful. And sure, Article did try to give some tips about how decorating is about making your house a home, and they tried to quantify that experience in hopes of simplifying it. But honestly, I didn’t really buy it (however you can read it for yourself if you’d like). As for forgoing decorating arguments, I frankly don’t think there’s a way around it, and I’m sorry. Making a house into a home is kind of a big deal, and just like any big deal, people are going to argue about it. That’s natural. But what I can say that might help is to realize it will happen, and then mentally prepare yourself with this mantra: I still love you even though your taste in furniture makes me want to claw your eyes out.

See how easy that was? Now you are mentally prepared to go shopping.

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