As a couple, heading to the furniture store is a real stressor on the ol’ cooperation-o-meter. It calls for decision-making skills that can make or break even the healthiest of power duos, and the average couple dreads this moment. While yielding to another’s opinion under any circumstance is bound to bring up tensions, add to that the fact that buying furniture tends to come along with other life shifts — moving to a new city, changing apartments, a marriage or a divorce — and you’ve got yourself a pressure cooker.

But fear not. By making a plan and sticking to it, couples can avoid the outbursts and hurt feelings when making furniture purchases. There will be disagreements, there will be compromise, but it doesn’t have to end in tears, whether you're shopping for your dining room or home office. Read the following tips for keeping the peace when shopping for furniture with your better half. 

Decide on a price point before the shopping begins. One of the most common things couples fight about is money. While setting a budget may seem like an obvious step, the key is making this decision first. You’d be surprised how many people get emotionally attached to items they can’t afford — and buy them anyway. Credit card debt anyone? That’s why you need to set a budget before you even start shopping. Do you really need the duvet cover that costs three times the cost of the bed itself? Or that insanely expensive coffee table for your living room? Or does it just remind you of that ideal Instagram life in Bali you’re not living? Stay realistic.

Do a little homework and find what price tag is feasible for the piece of furniture you want before heading to the showroom. If you are buying several items, you may find you can splurge more on one thing by getting something else on your list on sale to compensate. Will you pay in installments or all at once? Will both of you share the cost? In any case, choose to have an adult conversation upfront and discuss the nitty gritty financial details — before emotions run high with questions of decor style and opinion.

Agree on some practicalities. While you are likely going to have different preferences for individual pieces of furniture, certain big-picture things like color scheme, size and style can be thought out and planned in advance. Look at color profiles online, get inspiration from home decor photos and compare likes and dislikes. You can even look at some of the options that furniture retailers have online. Assess what you already own (unless you're looking at full room sets) and try to incorporate colors and themes that will work well with both of your tastes. Know exactly the items you need and how big you want them to be. Measure your space so you know what will fit in your living space. Decide if you want to go mid-century modern, shabby chic, traditional or something else entirely. Once everyone has voiced their desires, pin down the specifics and adhere to them.

Finally, agree to certain roles. Couples often fight over free time and the amount of work one is putting in compared to the other. Are you going to shop together or separately? Does one person feel more strongly than the other about certain details and is therefore willing to do more of the work? Maybe one of you is just home more and has more time to devote to domestic affairs. Make sure the workload is distributed fairly, and communicate about it beforehand. For instance, if one of you researches and orders the furniture online, the other one can handle the pick up or agree to be at home for delivery and furniture assembly.

By cooperating, having a strategy and staying on track, couples can avoid many of the pitfalls of furniture shopping as a duo. Having honest, prior communication about money, taste and workload can help you work better as a team of furniture shoppers and make your furniture endeavors end happily ever after.

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