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This Therapist Asks Couples To Work Through Relationship Issues By Building Ikea Furniture

Couples that put sofas together, stay together, suggests psychologist Ramani Durvasula.

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Until you remember there are people literally everywhere and too many decisions to make. Then once you load your selections into the car and get home, you've got to actually, you know, figure out how to build the stuff.

Licensed psychologist and couples therapist Ramani Durvasula of Santa Monica, California, says furniture building can be a great way of assessing her clients' communication skills. So she has them videotape themselves assembling furniture.

She doesn't force an Ikea trip on anyone. Rather, she asks them to let her know when they're in need of a new piece of furniture and then has them talk her through the assembly experience via text messages and subsequent therapy sessions.

"It's illuminating because I think, like so many things in life, we don’t realize how much those things show us about ourselves," Durvasula told BuzzFeed News.

Jack Dempsey / Associated Press

It's a chance for couples to think critically about how they handle high-pressure situations. If they resort to insults and command each other while struggling with a pesky dresser, it's likely those same patterns of behavior show up in other areas of their relationship, she said.


People-watching one day in the showroom, Durvasula realized what a conflict-ridden experience Ikea shopping can be.

Pavel Golovkin / AP

"I was sitting on a red sofa in an Ikea in the sofa section and I could see the room displays," she said. "It felt like 40% of them were sniping with each other. How the hell are these people going to put this stuff together when they get home?"

Durvasula, a divorced 49-year-old, thinks "the Ikea test" can also help strengthen non-romantic relationships. She sometimes thinks about which of her friends she'd be able to pull off a trip to the store with.

Pavel Golovkin / AP

"I don’t know that I'll ever meet another man that can pass the Ikea test," she said, laughing.

Her advice? Listen.

Jack Dempsey / Associated Press

"We tend to walk into things like the Ikeas of our lives with a script already written," Durvasula said. "We don't listen. And then when things don't go our way, we behave badly. Stop, listen, communicate. Lather, rinse, repeat."


H/T Wall Street Journal