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Archive for April 2015

Can Your Relationship Handle a Trip to IKEA?

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This was in the Wall Street Journal today.  I think it’s so funny.  Mike and I have a system when we go into Ikea.  Most of the time we don’t walk through.  We look on the website, find the bin number for the item, go in the exit and grab the item and then run to the checkout lane.  I think its pretty brilliant and may be the reason we are still married.


Can Your Relationship Handle a Trip to IKEA?

The furniture store can easily lead to arguments for stressed-out couples; how to avoid the ‘IKEA meltdown’

By Hilary Potkewitz

April 22, 2015 1:37 p.m. ET

In therapy, so many couples mention fighting while shopping at IKEA or while assembling what they buy there that clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula has started embracing the retailer as a tool for a communications exercise. The Santa Monica, Calif., therapist often tasks couples with putting together a large piece of furniture at home and reporting back on how it went.

IKEA, the world’s largest furniture retailer with 367 stores in seven countries, can look like a domestic wonderland. Its walkable showrooms offer a path through sleek model bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms and children’s rooms. Shoppers are encouraged to spend time sitting on a sofa and envisioning what their lives could be in these spaces.

And that’s where couples’ trouble often starts, says Dr. Durvasula, who is also a professor of psychology at California State University Los Angeles. “The store literally becomes a map of a relationship nightmare,” she says. Walking through the kitchens brings up touchy subjects, like who does most of the cooking. Then you get to the children’s section, which opens up another set of issues. And that’s before you’ve even tried assembling anything.

Dr. Durvasula says constructing the small Nornäs coffee table is fairly undemanding. But a massive wall unit like the Liatorp? She calls that the Divorcemaker.

IKEA, based in Almhult, Sweden, knows shopping for big items can be stressful and lead to arguments, says Janice Simonsen, design spokeswoman for IKEA U.S.

“While IKEA has no set philosophy on couples shopping together, we want everyone to have a good experience,” she says. As for the company’s furniture being used for therapy, she says, “We’re just happy to be part of the process.”

Though the company doesn’t provide mediators or counselors, she points out that about 85% of its U.S. stores offer home-furnishings consultants, available by appointment, who can give design advice.

Ms. Simonsen spent five years as a furnishings consultant and compiled a list of guidelines for couples preparing for an IKEA visit, including agreeing on a style from the catalog before ever setting foot in the store.

“We’ve seen it all,” says Mary Ann Barroso, a local marketing specialist and former kitchen designer at IKEA’s Burbank, Calif., store. She points out that most of the time, couples come to IKEA because they’re renovating a home or moving, which are already stressful situations. According to a 2013 survey conducted by home design site Houzz, 46% of couples doing remodeling projects together found the experience frustrating, and 12% of couples surveyed admitted that they considered separation or divorce during the renovation.

“If I felt a conversation was going to turn into an argument, I wouldn’t take sides,” Ms. Barroso says. “I’d just say, ‘Here’s what you need to consider. I’m going to step away for five to 10 minutes. Discuss amongst yourselves.’ ”

“I’m convinced that IKEA is Swedish for pissed-off boyfriend,” says Courtney Frappier, a New York City publicist whose recent trip to IKEA with her boyfriend Alex Mele ended in tears.

The pair, both 26, was furnishing his new one-bedroom apartment with an eye to Ms. Frappier moving in later this year. But while they were walking through IKEA picking out items, Mr. Mele recalls thinking, “‘Oh man, she’s going to take over and I’m going to lose all control of my place.’ ”

Ms. Frappier says she saw the meltdown coming but couldn’t stop it. “Once we were in the store, the reality of combining two individual lives started to sink in,” she says.

That was three months ago. They are still together, and so is the furniture they bought. But instead of calling the pieces by their official names—the Bjursta sideboard and the Bekant desk—Mr. Mele just refers to them as Terrible and Misery. “I’m never going back there,” he says.

This kind of IKEA meltdown appears in YouTube parodies and an episode of the NBC comedy “30 Rock,” where Tina Fey’s character Liz Lemon breaks up with her boyfriend at an IKEA.

While couples with existing communications issues are more vulnerable, no relationship is immune, says New York-based marriage counselor and radio host Dr. Jane Greer.

“I’ve had couples go to the mat over a couch that neither of them even liked,” she says. “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?”

Once a couple makes it out of the store, they have to get everything home and put it together—another relationship minefield.

Furniture assembly often causes more friction than the shopping experience, according to March data from consumer research firm CivicScience. It surveyed nearly 7,000 adults and found that among those who assemble furniture together, 17% said they always get into arguments, compared with only 6% who said they often argue while shopping together.

Remya Thomas and Jacob Varghese, both 35, learned that lesson from an Oppdal queen-sized bed frame and headboard.

When the couple moved into a new apartment in Chicago’s South Loop two years ago, Ms. Thomas convinced her husband to use IKEA to furnish the new place.

“I knew it would be a hassle to put together, but I was thinking we are two people, we can do it,” she says. They breezed through the shopping part. But when they finally moved, she was pregnant and couldn’t lift anything.

All their furniture was in flat IKEA boxes and they had nowhere to sleep. The pressure fell on Mr. Varghese, who works in finance and says he’s not particularly handy. “I had never done any of this before, but I thought, how hard can it be?” he says.

He estimates that it took him, his father and a friend about 10 hours to put the bed together, including two hours of arguing with Ms. Thomas. “She would give directions and then leave the room!” he recalls.

“I thought he was going to kill me,” Ms. Thomas says. She concedes that the bed was probably too complicated for their first project. They’d also bought a Hemnes secretary, two Kullen chests, a Brusali wardrobe and a Borgsjö cabinet.

More than a year later, Mr. Varghese says, “It feels like a badge of honor.” But he vows he’ll never do it again.

Ms. Thomas, on the other hand, sees it as a bonding experience, and would happily take on another IKEA project.

“We created something together,” she says. “But then again, I may be taking more credit than I deserve.”

Written by bevanddara

April 22, 2015 at 4:14 pm

Posted in Dara, Dara's Tid Bits

Flowers on Friday

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I transplanted a few plants from Charro Lane to our new house. These Amaryllis are some of my favorites.  They are a spectacular shade of red.


Someday I plan on making a quilt of Amaryllis(s).


My other plants are struggling to adjust to the move.

Written by bevanddara

April 11, 2015 at 8:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Recognize This Neighborhood?

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Written by bevanddara

April 10, 2015 at 2:23 pm

Posted in Dara, Dara's Tid Bits

Thanks For The Visit, Mom

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So great to see you and have you spend time with your little grandson (and us :))  Here are a few pictures from your visit.


mom and j 2

Mom and j


Written by bevanddara

April 10, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Posted in Dara's Tid Bits, Julian

A good parent prepares the child for the path, not the path for the child.

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We just got back from our first little family trip to Miami.  I was a nervous nelly going into the trip (even though I was trying my best to pretend I wasn’t) . . . what if Julian had a tantrum on the plane?  What if the room wasn’t as nice as I was expecting it to be?  What if Julian got bored on the beach and I couldn’t spend a second relaxing (which I so desperately needed) because I would have to run around after him the entire time?  What if Mike worked the whole time and that annoyed me and we would fight about it?

As life would have it . . . everything I worried about came true.  The hotel we stayed at was nice and in an awesome location . . . but the “1 Bedroom Suite” was just a glorified studio with an open doorway between the living room and bedroom (which isn’t ideal when you have a toddler that goes to bed at 7:30 and you want to stay up and spend time with your husband).  I had the hotel staff show me three different rooms until I settled on the room we stayed in.  I spent an hour on the phone with Starwood trying to figure out where we should move to the next day because there is no way this current situation would work out.  When I really exhausted all options and came to the realization that we were “stuck” there, I made the most of the situation.  I poured myself a glass of wine and put Julian in the bathroom sink for his bath (no bathtub at this hotel!) . . . he thought it was the best thing in the world (he pulled every single tolietry into his little “tub” with him).  He also LOVED the room.  He had a smile on his face from the time he woke up until the time he went to bed (which he did . . . every night at 7:30 . . . and never woke up while Mike and I sat in the living room catching up).


The moment when I saw this little face happy as can be . . . taking a bath in a sink . . . I decided that I wasn’t going to let anything that happened on the vacation bother me . . . and just soak up every single moment of the time I had with my boys.  It was seriously one of the best vacations of my life because of that mindset.  Yeah, I told Mike that I was going throw his phone in the water (after the 10th hour-long phone call he took ended) if he didn’t start relaxing (which he eventually did).  I didn’t get to relax much on the beach . . . but that was because I WANTED to build sand castles with my little boy in the shade . . . and run after the ocean waves . . . and get wrinkly hands (my BIGGEST PET PEEVE) because he’s a little fish and wants to spend every second he can in the pool “swimming”.  I did get to spend a few moments like this . . . though.  Heaven.


Julian had MULTIPLE tantrums on the plane (in First Class – eek – never sitting up there with a toddler again!) but we made it through and I’ll NEVER see those people again.  Most of the tantrums were the result of people behind us not saying hi to him . . . after he had said “hi” and waved to them for 10 minutes straight (meanies in First Class).

The resort ended up being awesome.  In every single way.  Everyone knew who we were by the time we left . . . Julian had charmed the socks off all of them.  Running, barefoot, through the halls with the biggest smile and cute little laugh . . . arms flailing . . . like it was the best moment of his life.  Noone could pass him without stopping and smiling and commenting on how adorable he was.  Most of the time he would stop, and say “hi” to them and, if they were lucky, he would tackle them with a hug.

We had nice family meals out . . . and strolls along the beach at sunrise . . . and sunset.

j and mike

I was worried that a 5 star hotel and flights in first class would not be good enough for us.  That we wouldn’t have fun because our 600 square foot incredible room didn’t have a door.  I was worried that playing with my little boy on the beach was going to make me not have a good time.  Shame on me for having that mindset.  Shame on me for being blinded by my outrageous expectations, rather than be grateful for the time with my boys, the sand between my toes and a crisp glass of rose at noon on a Thursday. I worry WAY too much and need to stop and enjoy this beautiful world we live in.  Especially when it comes to raising Julian.  I really hope he turns out like his Dad – more carefree and spur of the moment.  I am going to really try to make sure he’s prepared for life and takes it all in. Maybe I’ll have to buy some Tab, bologna and white bread (you have to read the article to get that reference).


Thank you, Miami, for giving me what I needed.

Written by bevanddara

April 7, 2015 at 11:34 am