In the news recently was a story about a Santa Monica therapist who used the oft-lamented activity of assembling IKEA furniture as a test to see how couples communicate. As everyone knows, shopping at IKEA can be just as maddening (and lead just as many disagreements). No more! As someone who has couple shopped at IKEA several times and hung on to my relationship and my sanity, here are my must-follow rules to get outta that big blue labyrinth without a breakup.
NEVER go at peak hours
I don't care if you need to take time off work or stay up late to hit IKEA on a Tuesday night, do not try to brave the crowds on a weekend. Do you like large hoards of screaming children and waiting your turn to sit on a floor model sofa? No! No one does. It's not worth the stress.
Limit your choices
IKEA sets up the store to keep you inside and browsing as long as possible (those floor arrows?!?) but you don't have to follow their lead. Say you're looking for a sofa. Spend some time online narrowing down your options to just a few. Then, in the store, go straight to the sofas and test only your three options to decide. Endless options doesn't mean you'll wind up with the best thing, it just means it'll be endlessly stressful to get anything. Do your major choosing in the calm environment of your own home and give yourself a break during the stressful store experience.
Take an ice cream break
If things do start to go south, don't wait for one of you to have a blowup. Take a break, hit up the cafeteria or ice cream counter. Diffuse the tension with a little emotional eating, it won't kill you. Also, try to talk about something else (something fun) while you're taking your break. There will be plenty of time for fighting later.
Don't be afraid to buy nothing
I know it's a commitment to even make the trek to a store, park and get up the many levels of any IKEA, but don't buy something you don't really like because you feel like you made a time investment. If the item you saw online doesn't live up to your expectations in person or you can't agree on what to get, give up. You are not obligated to buy, no matter how cheap it is. Your relationship is worth more.
If all else fails, take a nap
Remember this? These Chinese IKEA customers know how to do it.
Take a lesson from them and don't get so caught up in the stress of IKEA shopping. This is supposed to be fun!