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Santa Monica Therapist Uses IKEA Assembly In Couples Therapy

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A Santa Monica therapist is incorporating the IKEA furniture and its often complicated assembly into couples therapy—and there's one so challenging she calls it the "divorcemaker."

It's an old joke by now—including a significant portion of an episode of 30 Rock—that a trip to IKEA can challenge a relationship. Ramani Durvasula, a clinical psychologist in Santa Monica and a psychology professor at California State University, called IKEA the "map of a relationship nightmare" in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Each portion of the store is a different room, and thus signifies a new topic or series of problems that can emerge in a relationship.

"In the kitchen area one person will pick up a pan and the other will say 'You never cook anything anyway so why would we need that?'," she said. "Everything's so clean and that's also a big source of tension. You get people looking at towels and saying 'You never clean up.'"

As part of the therapy process, Durvasula sometimes asks that her couples assemble a big piece of furniture at their home, then come back and tell her how it went. She notes that while some items are relatively easy, something like the Liatorp—with its many drawers and glass panels—she calls "The Divorcemaker."

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For its part, IKEA does offer a service where they will choose, deliver and assemble your furniture for you, and a majority of their stores have consultants. Of course, this may not be an option for couples on a budget.

Janice Simonsen, IKEA U.S. design spokesperson, told WSJ that IKEA is "just happy to be part of the process" when it comes to IKEA-related therapy. She also has tips for couples preparing to use IKEA to furnish their homes. They include making decisions before entering the store using the IKEA catalogue, setting and adhering to a budget, shopping on weekday evenings or other less busy times, choosing big items (couch, bed) before small items (decor), and accessorizing on a second, separate trip.