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Tonight has been a trying night that has tested the bonds of love between me and Mr. Perfect. It has been one of those nights that start with excitement (mine), get sidetracked by frustration, relaxes with tension-spilling laughter, and culminates in a successful union of cooperative work and determination to form a new household addition. Yes, we put together my futon (what did you think I meant?).

Here’s the story of how I futon can test your marriage preparedness. I came into a bit more money than I was expecting this week, and decided to cross a major purchase off of my list–a futon. As I had no seating in my living room, Mr. Perfect and I were used to sitting on the floor to watch TV or have a meal in the living room. This wasn’t the most comfortable solution, nor was it suitable for visitors to my humble abode. Instead of a costlier couch, I opted for a futon. It could also serve as a bed should something happen to the air mattress I currently have (more on that lack of furniture in another post).

We went to Wal-mart and picked up the model I wanted, one which complemented my  apartment walls (which are the color of coffee with cream) and I already knew was super comfy (my college roommates had one). After another trip to acquire a new Phillips screwdriver (mine is cowering in fear–wuss), we set about putting this thing together.

What followed was three or more hours of activity that I’m sure a psychologist or anthropologist would love to study. Have there been studies done on what impact putting something together with a partner has on a relationship? I’m sure there are. Our night started out in fun bumbling, with neither of us knowing quite what we were doing, thing getting the hang of it. Somewhere in the middle, I had an OCD attack and began insisting all the letters had to face a certain way and certain pieces had to go together or it wouldn’t be right. After a skirmish with Mr. P. (who insisted it didn’t really matter which G I used and whether the G was upside down or not), and much consulting with the instructions, we both put down arms. When we discovered something was put on wrong and made the bottom of the futon shifter thingie scrape one side of the wooden arm, we had a good laugh over missing a glaring abnormality. We finally began to work toether and successfully completed the building of a futon.

What did I learn about relationships/marriage preparedness from this?

  • You are embarking on building something new together. Neither one of you will know exactly what to do. The point is to work together.
  • You have to follow instructions and put things together in the right order to get it to work as it should. I know many people disagree that there are any real instructions to marriage and each married couple does what is best for them. Even if you believe that, you should have some sort of general guidelines and rules for how you come together.
  • Communication is key. You have to be able to explain how you’re interpreting the instructions and why you think that’s best, and be able to hear and weigh the other person’s argument.
  • You have to work together, and not just divide the work amongst yourselves. At one point, Mr. Perfect had an arm he was working on and I had an arm I was working on. After not being able to get the nuts and bolts on tight enough, I finally figured out you had to use the wrench and hex thingie TOGETHER to tighten it. By the end, with me holding the wrench and Mr. P. working the hex, and vice versa, we got the last parts done much sooner and more efficiently. My using both to secure my arm and then passing over took much more time.
  • Sometimes you have to slow down and check a few nuts and bolts for security. Things may seem structurally sound, but there’s nothing wrong with going back and “secur[ing] whatever ill be tide.” If it doesn’t seem right, investigate. You may have to undo a few things to find the problem, but once you find it and fix it, the whole thing will work more smoothly.
  • It takes however long it takes to build it soundly. I’m more concerned about building something that going to support me, fulfill the function I bought it for, and serve me well in the coming years than I am with hurrying up and finishing it so I can enjoy it. This is a hard one for me to accept some days, but the truth is at the end of all the building, I want a solid marriage that I can recline and rest in. I don’t want to sit back and have it fall apart beneath me. It took me a long time to have everything just so and put it all the pieces in the right place (and there are still two pieces I haven’t figured out what to do with); some other, more self-assembly savvy couple may be able to do it in significantly less time (the more purchases they make from IKEA, etc.). The real emphasis should be on quality and stability, not on how long it takes you to get it built.