Today’s post comes from Paulie Godbout who has submitted multiple articles to help us broaden our perspective by sharing experiences from more folks who want to help you improve your marriage. Be on the lookout for more from Paulie here at Confessions of a Terrible Husband.
If you’ve ever tried to assemble a piece of IKEA furniture, I’m sure you can relate with the feelings of frustration Paulie shares… I’m still convinced that IKEA furniture should come with a coupon for a free therapy session…
When my wife and I got married my grandmother gave us $1000. We decided to use her generous gift to buy a bed frame and mattress. As two people who cherish their personal space we immediately agreed that a king-size bed set was our only option.
Neither of us had shopped for a bed and mattress bigger than a twin, so it was quite a shock to discover you can’t even get a decent king-size mattress for $1000. Naturally, we did what anyone on a budget does when they need cheap furniture: we went to IKEA.
After a lot of searching and a little compromise we found a bed and mattress for just under $1000. We were proud of ourselves for sticking to our budget and for reaching a compromise in a civil, timely manner.
The experience gave me hope for our new marriage.
But, then we got home.
We unloaded everything, opened all the boxes, organized the materials and opened the instructions. My wife read the instructions aloud while I pieced things together accordingly. We made it about 10 minutes before I couldn’t figure out how to “insert something into something.” So my wife tried to help.
Only, I didn’t ask for her help.
She saw me struggling, so she stepped in to try to show me how it was done. “I’ve got it,” I said, pulling the two unassembled pieces away from her. I stubbornly tried to make it work on my own, and after a few tries, I got it. “What’s next?” I asked.
A few minutes later we found ourselves doing the same song and dance. “Please, just read the directions again,” I said, obviously perturbed. This happened a few more times before I suggested we switch for a while, me reading the instructions and her piecing things together.
It didn’t help. We switched jobs, but it resulted in the same conflict.
Finally, we finished putting the stupid bed together. There was no lighthearted suggestion of “breaking it in” or any other euphemism. Together, we sighed, relaxed our shoulders and exchanged a silent nod, as if to say we made it through alive, before heading to the couch.
The experience made me question the hope I had for our new marriage.
The tension lingered throughout the night. We crawled into bed, our new bed, the bed that I figured a mediator might one day pinpoint as the beginning of the end for us, and just stared at one another.
“We can’t do this,” I said. My wife’s quizzical eyes finally met mine. “We can’t be at each other’s throats every time we have to work together to figure out some new thing. For a long time, everything is going to be new for us.” She nodded. “So what do we do?” I asked.
Honestly, I don’t remember what all was said that night. I can tell you we talked through our frustrations and made peace before falling asleep. I can tell you similar situations have arisen since the bed incident. I can tell you we’re still happily married almost four years later.
And I can tell you why.
Because now, every time we assemble something, fix something, or install something together we grin at each other and say, “Alright. We’re not getting divorced over this.” Now, when we – two former alpha dogs – tackle a project, we tackle it as a team. Now, we look at every opportunity to figure out how to do something new, no matter how menial, as a chance to get better at working together.
I was terrible at this part of being a husband in the early days of our marriage. I still have a lot to work on, but I’ve gotten pretty good at doing projects with my wife.
And now, we love walking through IKEA.
Every trip offers a store full of reminders – symbols of hope – that we have what it takes to conquer whatever new experience we’ll encounter in our marriage.
About the Author
Paulie Godbout is a husband, father, writer and blogger. If you’ve enjoyed his thoughts on marriage you’ll love his take on fatherhood. Check out his blog Letters to Lewis, where twice a week Paulie shares letters he’s written to his toddler son about life, parenthood and faith.