Smartmom is still stressing about the green leather couch. The problem isn’t just that Hepcat doesn’t want a new couch. It’s that he doesn’t want to do the thing that would give Smartmom pleasure.
In fact, this saga about the couch isn’t really about the couch at all. It’s about something that is at the very center of any marriage that makes it past the 10-year mark. Sometimes you not only have to do what your spouse wants — and not just to make him or her happy, but fully and without reservations.
That’s a good trick.
In other words, marriage can be Machiavellian; the ends (a happy spouse) do justify the means (doing something that you don’t want to do only because it makes your spouse happy).
Maybe that’s why Smartmom’s couch troubles have resonated with many of her readers and friends.
Over red wine at Bussaco, Best and Oldest shared the story of buying her couch. She wanted a “shabby chic”-style couch, but her husband is into black leather Modernist furniture. It took them two years to pick out a couch that both of them liked.
And guess what?
That couch didn’t wear well and now — 10 years later — it’s time to shop for a new couch. Fun.
Church Rabbi, Smartmom’s friend who is pastor at Old First Church, e-mailed to say that he wants to come and sit on her couch.
“By the way, our Ikea couch is 18 years old. And it’s in great shape. No springs.”
Why was his couch in such good shape, Smartmom wondered? Must have something to do with God, she decided.
Even Divorce Diva had some helpful ideas for Smartmom.
“I just finished watching an ‘I Love Lucy’ episode on DVD and will now put myself into Lucy scheming mode and figure out how to get rid of your couch,” she texted. “You and I could dress up as burglars and steal it.”
Smartmom loved the idea of the two of them masquerading as of bandits sneaking into the apartment and taking the couch down three flights of stairs.
But where would they put the couch? They’d probably have to walk it a few blocks away and leave it in someone else’s garbage. Buddha knows that if Hepcat found it in their garbage, he’d just bring it back upstairs.
Divorce Diva had another Lucy-style idea: have Diaper Diva — who happens to be a set decorator for movies and commercials — rent the green leather couch for a set and just let it fall off a truck. Accidentally.
Smartmom thought that was a great idea, too. But she wasn’t sure if Diaper Diva would want to get into the middle of Smartmom’s living room woes.
Still, Divorce Diva’s ideas got Smartmom thinking. Why didn’t she just set the couch on fire or have Housing Works thrift shop take it away?
Smartmom appreciated all the feedback from her friends. It helped to put things in perspective. Indeed, thanks to Best and Oldest, she learned that she and Hepcat weren’t the only couple who’ve ever had trouble agreeing on a new couch.
And thanks to Church Rabbi, she learned that they weren’t the only people who had an Ikea couch that lasted 18 years.
She also learned that she wasn’t the only one who secretly fantasizes about disappearing furniture — books, Hepcat’s clothing, old magazines, you name it — from the apartment.
But disappearing the couch isn’t really the point. Truth is, Smartmom knows she could probably twist Hepcat’s arm and get a new couch, even the Andre, the mid-century modern one she picked out at Room & Board.
So, what is the point?
Easy. Smartmom wants Hepcat to give her what she wants. She wants him to bend over backwards — and even buy a couch he doesn’t love — just because it would bring her pleasure.
It’s not enough to get what she wants. She wants Hepcat to understand how much what she wants means to her. And to do so without having to be told what it means to her.
It’s not that Smartmom wants to be treated like a queen. But she does want devotion — and undying passion. Smartmom wants Hepcat to shower her with love, appreciation and the Andre couch.
She doesn’t just want to win this fight, she wants him to give her what she wants — and like it. Not the couch, of course, but the feeling of doing something one doesn’t want to do simply because one’s spouse wants it.
So Smartmom is a romantic at heart? You got it?