How to Buy a New Chair
(or How to Deal with Conflict in Your Marriage)
By Kathi Lipp
It was the second greatest day of my marriage.
Obviously, our wedding day was the hands-down winner. But getting rid of my new husband’s living room furniture was a close second.
From the moment I seriously thought I had a shot at the title of Mrs., I was mentally replacing Roger’s 80’s style couch (brown and rust stripes, wooden armrests), with my 90’s version. And then two days after our honeymoon, the switch was complete.
He took it like a man. Not only did he give up the couch, but he also gave up his beloved light blue La-Z-Boy recliner. Even he will tell you that giving up the chair hurt.
Roger had spent many a single night in the chair watching something with the word “star” in it (Star Trek, Star Wars, Battle Star Galactica). But, because he wanted a harmonious marital home (and I assured him that would be impossible with a light blue version of the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man in the middle of our home), he relented. And the chair found its way to another bachelor’s pad.
He never got over the loss of that chair. My husband would press his nose up against furniture store windows and look longingly at chairs with built in cup holders. So when it was time to replace our 90’s couch, Roger was firm: he wanted a chair as well.
I was finally getting the couch I wanted. Not a hand-me-down relic, but a real, “grown-up” couch, and he wanted to ruin my living room with a boy chair. (And yes, I realize I sound like a petulant 2-year-old in need of a long nap.)
We were on opposite ends of what seemed like a silly disagreement: he wanted a chair, I didn’t.
I bet you’ve been divided on equally important topics such as: how long you visit his parents, how you fold towels, how and when to pay the bills, and how the toilet paper is put on the spindle.
These may not be marriage breakers, but how you handle the little disagreements lays the groundwork for how you’ll handle the big ones.
So here’s how to get a result that you both can live with (and like each other after the discussion is over):
- Stay on Topic. How does the question of how you fold T-shirts evolve into a “Your mother has never liked me!” kind of argument? Deal with the mother-in-law issues when there are professionals available to guide you.
- Pick Your Time. Set up a time to talk when it’s not your night to pay bills or his night to watch Monday night football. I’ve had great luck saying things like, “When would be a good time for you to talk about ____________?” Timing isn’t everything, but it’s at least 30 percent of which direction an argument will go.
- Don’t Pick Teams. Never bring other people into your argument. Who cares if you mom agrees that you are the one who folds towels the right way? When you start stacking the deck, you put your mate in the uncomfortable position of feeling ganged up on. Remember, don’t pick teams. You’re already on a team – his.
Finally, make sure you know the real issue. My assumption was that Roger just wanted the ugliest chair in the whole store. The fact was, he really didn’t care what the chair looked like, he just wanted something that was comfortable and that he could sit in to read.
Now we have an acceptable, super-comfy chair, and we’re living happily ever after. At least until we have to decide on a new kitchen table.
Kathi Lipp and her husband, Roger, live quite happily with their new couch and chair in California. Join her for The Husband Project challenge this February at kathilipp.com.