How home improvement could wreck your love life

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That trip to the furniture or home improvement store sounds like fun, but it can get ugly fast.

So-called “IKEA meltdown” is a real thing, and could cause big trouble for couples who are already stressed out.  Those couples go into the store happy and hopeful, and sometimes leave haggard, tearful, or even angry.

The problem apparently starts in those display rooms, where a blissful peek at dream surroundings can sometimes fuel arguments over everything from cost and style to who will assemble, install, clean, and maintain the stuff if it ends up in your home.

Decisions can become frustration when a couple doesn’t see eye-to-eye on remodeling or redecorating that inspires them to go to furniture or home-improvement stores in the first place. Add the stress of being newly married, living together for the first time, or relocating, or expanding the family, and the happy shopping experience goes sour.

“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,” said a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Even if shopping goes smoothly, assembly can bubble other disagreements to the surface. It’s a project to put the pieces together, and it can push some couples to the brink, especially if they’re assembling a large or complicated item.

What to do?

The report offered ideas for making home-improvement shopping less stressful, from a former IKEA furnishings consultant who spent years getting a first-hand look at how couples handle shopping for their homes: Find a style you agree on by shopping online before you go to the store, set a budget and stick to it, make major purchases first and accessorize later, and shop when the store is less-crowded.