IKEA’s assemble-it-yourself furniture: Good for the wallet, hard on the relationship?

Nadine Kalinauskas
IKEA’s assemble-it-yourself furniture: Good for the wallet, hard on the relationship?

Ever get into a fight with your significant other at IKEA? Or maybe bicker back and forth when you begin building that TV stand you just purchased?

(It’s ok, we’ve all been there. Even Liz Lemon did it.)

According to Hilary Potkewitz at the Wall Street Journal, IKEA stress among couples is so common that the assemble-yourself furniture is now a topic of discussion — and even used as an exercise — in some therapy sessions.

“I’ve had couples go to the mat over a couch that neither of them even liked,” said New York-based marriage counsellor Dr. Jane Greer. “Underneath, every discussion is really about how important am I to you? How important is my comfort and happiness to you? If I want this couch, and it’s important to me, then why isn’t it important enough to you?”

One San Diego therapist even requires couples to assemble an entertainment centre together.

Ramani Durvasula called the complicated Liatorp system, which requires two patient, cooperating individuals to assemble, the “divorcemaker.”

Dr. Durvasula referred to the retail store itself as “a map of a relationship nightmare,” ass a walk through its showrooms can bring up a number of touchy subjects: the kitchen section can spark arguments about meal prep, and the nursery section can trigger arguments about starting and raising a family.

And then there’s the stress of agreeing on big-purchase items — and having to put them together yourself.

According to consumer research from CivicScience, about 17 per cent of couples who assemble furniture together “always get into arguments.” (Only 6 per cent of couples who shop together do, putting IKEA shoppers at a higher likelihood of butting heads over purchases.)

Some therapists consider cooperation when assembling furniture to be a sign of a healthy relationship with good communication, although, according to Dr. Greer, “no relationship is immune.”

Last fall, Business Insider tested a new line of IKEA furniture that the Swedish retailer promised would only take five minutes to assemble.

Watch below — and relate. (Specifically to this part: “I give up.”)


“While IKEA has no set philosophy on couples shopping together, we want everyone to have a good experience,” said IKEA U.S. design spokesperson Janice Simonsen.

How does IKEA feel about being used in therapy sessions?

“We’re just happy to be part of the process,” Simonsen told the Wall Street Journal.

In response to the Wall Street Journal article, the Telegraph created a list of 10 dos and don’ts for surviving a trip to IKEA.

Among the recommendations: make a list in advance, drop your kids off at the Småland crèche, take a café break, avoid the crowds, “do not follow the damned arrows” and stay away from the dried elk sausage.

Read the entire list here.

Can your relationship withstand a trip to IKEA and the assembly process at home? Most importantly, have you successfully assembled the Liatorp “divorcemaker” — without requiring couple’s therapy?