The Ikea flat pack challenge: It might just save your marriage

I think I’ve worked out why some female spiders eat their lovers straight after having sex: it’s to save them the trouble of having to assemble an Ikea flat pack together.

Actually if I’m completely honest, I believe it would be much smarter to replace pre-marital counselling with the following key elements:

• The Couple
• A barren room
• A flat pack Ikea bookcase
• A leather lounge that doesn’t quite fit through the door
• A 3D TV
• A Foxtel box
• ONE allen key
• 10 different, yet oddly similar cords.

Then, together, Survivor-style, they have 1 hour in which to set up the room with a fully assembled bookcase, couch in mutually agreed position, fully functioning Foxtel, and TV with all of the channels tuned in.

When they complete this challenge without stabbing each other in the eye with the allen key, then - and only then - are they free to marry.

Sure, it looks lovely now. Wait until you find yourself one screw short.

And this isn’t just the opinion of a woman who has been imprisoned blissfully married for 15 years. No, this has now been backed up by SCIENCE.

In a recent interview on ABC's Radio National, psychologist Dr Ramani Durvasula told us she believes so strongly in this method, she has her clients assemble furniture as part of their therapy.

Which of course, is the very definition of irony because we all know that the one thing that won't fix our relationship is an unassembled Ikea bookcase, 457 screws, and an incomprehensible 32-page booklet in an isolated room.

In fact, just the act of of meandering through Ikea is probably enough to determine if you’ve got what it takes to survive in a relationship. After walking past the perfectly designed kitchen, romantic bedroom and fun-yet-practical lounge room, it's only a matter of time before World War III starts because suddenly you’re arguing who cooks the most and how your sex life is shot to shit and where in the HELL is that lounge going to fit ANYWAY?!

* Ahem *. I digress.

So yes, Ikea, notoriously known for busting up relationships, is ironically now being used as a tool to bring them back together.

I guess the whole problem with Ikea is this: it brings out the dirty word in all of us – compromise. Suddenly negotiations are taking place over dish racks and salad bowls and fucking Billy bookcases that we never even realised we needed. From the minute we park in the too-full car park right up until we have to find our particular purchase in the dedicated aisle and row, we will argue over ridiculous things. Like for example, if we should use a trolley to cart our goods to the checkout. My own personal conversation on this matter went a little something exactly like this:

Me: We should get a trolley, this bookcase/bed/kitchen marble bench top will be heavy.
Him: Nah, I’ll just carry it
Me: It’s pretty heavy, let's get a trolley
Him: I can carry it
Me: It won’t hurt to grab a trolley though?
Him: I said I can carry it
Me: Fine then! You can probably carry it on the end of your cock then can’t you if you’re so tough.
Him: (Stares at me like I’m deranged)
Me: (Am by this stage, deranged)
Him: (Attempts to lift the box from the shelf.) “Maybe we should grab a trolley”
Me: Go fuck yourself.


Really though, to truly put it to the test, it should be performed with your children in tow after they've downed half a dozen Swedish meatballs and a slice of almond cake in the cafe. They say the family of five that goes into Ikea together, then leaves as an intact family together, will most definitely make it.

But let's face it, the real test comes when we actually have to assemble the product. This is why Dr Durvasula sets her clients a very big challenge.

Their challenge? Assemble the ‘Liatorp’ storage unit, (aka – the ‘Divorce Maker’ - below) as a couple. This particular flat pack, when assembled, stands at 7ft, has a 169 screws and a 32-page instruction booklet and flowchart of mindfuckery.

The Ikea Liatorp, aka 'The Divorce Maker'

Even the most seasoned of flat pack experts has been broken by this beast which is exactly why Dr Durvasula is keen for her couples to complete it. Together. She doesn’t even want them to work harmoniously, in fact, if they are no longer on speaking terms when the thing is done, it's even better because it gives her more data to work with. See, the whole exercise is about analysing the problems within the relationship. Watching how a couple collaborates, how they problem solve, if they can work in unison and keep calm in the process. Or not.

And see, I believe, this is why my relationship has survived as long as it has. Flat packs and the assembling of them are my husband’s domain. The technical computer stuff however, is mine. The furthest he has ever gotten to being on the internet is to Google boobs so it’s probably for the best that we keep it this way. This is also why if we've ever attempted to wander into each others worlds, it has unravelled rather quickly. See, I am quite the easy going, it-will-happen-when-it-happens kind of gal. He, on the other hand is the if-this-doesn’t-f**king-work, right-f**king-now, I-will-smash-something kind of guy.

Eventually, we get it sorted but usually not before a few choice words are exchanged and the pure, ugly, unadulterated side of ourselves are shown.

The biggest question is this though (besides whether or not you should buy some more Swedish meatballs to take home): Should you sit this Ikea challenge before you fully commit to one another? In fact, should it be used as a measure of the stability of your relationship when you start to get the wobbles? We'd love to hear your thoughts and your experiences.

If you enjoyed this, why not try these:

Is it every too late to get a divorce?

Couples who have been married for 25 years: this is how often we have sex

The 7 steps to having a good divorce