A common (and underrated) conflict between couples is the fight that takes place when buying furniture and decorating the home. Here are some thoughts.

This conflict seems to be increasing as it’s now common for both partners to be involved in the domestic affairs of the home.

I find it’s more common with clients who have gotten married or started co-habitating later in life—perhaps because they’ve developed their own tastes, and they know how they want to decorate their living space. Conversely, when you get started early, you’re just excited to have furniture.

Ideally, for relationship harmony, one person cares about décor and the other doesn’t.

It’s a difficult thing to compromise on. If two people have different tastes, it might not be easy to find middle ground.

Another option is to compromise in the main living areas, but each person gets free reign in a lesser room.

This is why the ‘man cave’ exists. Before the man cave, I suppose there was ‘the study,’ but in some cities (like Boston) you might be decorating 1000 square feet, so that’s not an option.

Creating even more conflict that “design” is the issue or order and clutter. This is ripe for conflict when one person wants the home to look like a showroom, while the other wants the house to look lived in. And neither are comfortable with the alternative.

How do couples resolve it?

One solution if for you and your partner to have two separate homes, and a bridge that connects them. Perhaps you can share a kitchen.

Another, more practical solution: It might take more time, but if couples look at enough options, they will eventually settle on a décor they will both enjoy. The key is, even if you love a piece of furniture, you need to be able to pass on it if your partner doesn’t like it. Even styles that seems far apart usually have a middle ground.

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Dr. Anthony Centore

Anthony Centore, PhD

Anthony Centore, PhD, is Founder and Chair at Thriveworks — a counseling practice focused on premium client care, with 340+ locations across the US. Anthony is a Private Practice Consultant for the American Counseling Association, columnist for Counseling Today magazine, and author of "How to Thrive in Counseling Private Practice". He is a multistate Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and has been quoted in national media sources including The Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune, and CBS Sunday Morning.

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