39: A Couch for Two

39: A Couch for Two

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

A Couch for Two

Rise to meet him in a pretty disorder — yes —
O, nothing is more alluring than a levee from a couch in some confusion.

~William Congreve

My husband and I have been married for four decades and we have learned each other’s preferences and dislikes. Sometimes they compliment each other, sometimes not. We know that we both don’t care for surprise parties, for instance, not for us or for our friends. It doesn’t mean that we won’t attend one when invited and have a good time, but our children know better than to throw one for us. We also know that he likes action pix and I don’t, but as we are both fond of going to the movies, we’ll check out the reviews and pick a film that appeals to us both. We usually can find a way to cooperate.

One of the things we don’t do well together is shop, and shopping for furniture is one of our least favorite things. We have different taste and agreeing on something is not an easy task. I like unusual; he likes classic. I prefer clean lines; he gravitates to curves. Yet sometimes we switch sides and confuse each other, like when I fell in love with an old-fashioned settee upholstered with medallions and swirls for our spare bedroom, and he took to a Danish modern table with no-frills chairs for our breakfast room. Our home reflects our eclecticism.

So when the day came that our old den couch needed replacing we knew we were in trouble. Someone would need to compromise.

We started out by checking home magazines for ideas. When I found something I thought had possibilities, I brought it up for discussion. Our conversations went something like this:

ME: What do you think about this sofa? It looks like a cross between seventies funk and Grandma Moses.

HIM: I hate it!

When he found something he liked, he showed it to me.

HIM: Here’s a nice traditional couch. It would look great in the den.

ME: Let’s keep looking.

The magazine route obviously wasn’t working. So we decided to brave the furniture stores. This was a major decision for both of us, given his aversion to shopping and my habit of always wanting to go to just one more store. I didn’t want to miss anything.

The first store we checked out was just down the road but it set the tone for the others.

ME: Wow, this is great! It explodes with color. What do you think, hon? Hon?

My husband was already off to another section of the store. I took it as a sign that we hadn’t found the “right” couch yet.

Over the course of a week we must have seen every couch in every store in and around our neighborhood with pretty much the same result — no purchase. And the thought of extending our search was getting us both a bit ornery.

ME: Why don’t you like anything I like?

HIM: I do, just not in our house.

We were getting desperate.

“I had enough,” my husband said. “I could live with the old couch.”

Only that wasn’t an option. The problem was that we had given away our old couch. Our search continued, now out of necessity.

We found a couch (sort of) that we both thought we could learn to like. So we bought it and hoped for the best. It was delivered the next day.

“What’s that smell?” I asked when the deliverymen removed the plastic coating.

“What smell?” said my husband.

I stuck my face into the fabric.

“That smell,” I said.

“You’re imagining things,” he said.

Maybe I was. For two days I pretended everything was fine. By the third day, I was wheezing and had a violent headache. There must have been some kind of finish on the fabric that I was allergic to. Fortunately, there was a satisfaction guarantee from the store; the couch went back.

My husband groaned. He knew what was coming. The search continued.

“There’s one more store we haven’t seen,” I said. “Let’s give it a try.”

He reluctantly allowed himself to be led into the store. A salesperson met us at the door and asked us what we were looking for. We were silent for a moment. Oddly enough, we had never really thought about it. The priority was just something we both liked; we hadn’t defined it.

“Well,” she said, “do you have any style in mind? What colors do you like? Do you want a cushy couch, one you can sink into, or a firmer one?”

We hadn’t a clue. We just wanted what we wanted. Now what was it?

“It has to be deep enough,” my husband said at last.

The salesperson looked at us with a question in her eyes. But I smiled because I knew what he meant.

“Yes,” I said. “That’s exactly right.”

It was less a matter of style, though we did have our outer limits in regard to that, than of room. What we wanted, we suddenly knew, was a cuddly couch. We liked to snuggle up together at night to watch TV. Our couch had to accommodate our reclining, cuddling bodies. And even though we are both small, the two of us together needed a bit of space.

Now that we had a focus, our search through the store was easy. We passed on any couch that lacked that cuddle-ability.

We eventually found a simple Italian contemporary couch with sufficient definition to suit my husband and enough simplicity to satisfy me. To make sure it had the right cuddle factor, we tested it out in the store when we thought no one was watching, lying down side-by-side to make sure it was a good fit. It was perfect! We bought it on the spot and walked out of the store holding hands.

And it wasn’t even a compromise. All we had ever needed was a couch for two.


~Ferida Wolff

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