Monday, March 9, 2009

Fighting the Furniture War

This column originially appeared in the Sun Chronicle on March 7, 2009.

The war in Iraq seems to be going better lately, the war in Afghanistan worse. But the biggest shift has been in the Furniture War being waged in my humble household.

One of the most basic rules of engagement is never become involved in a war you cannot win. Despite this valuable advice, men continue to marry women at a dizzying clip. Over time, the losses begin to pile up.

The Furniture War started when the first Caveman dragged home the first comfortable rock chair, and the first Cavewoman made him put it out of sight in the basement. Nowhere are the differences between men and women, or husbands and wives, more clearly displayed than in their furniture preferences.

That is not to say I am completely without victories in the furniture arena. We have a large-screen TV in our family room that if my wife had her way would not be there. Our previous living room furniture was bought over her objection when I got a deal from a friend in the business, and used my then-young children as pawns to gain my evil way.

But my wise and patient wife is in this for the long run. After nearly 32 years of marriage she has clearly developed the upper hand with regard to furniture (and most everything else). Currently she is in the midst of an aggressive offensive, clearly establishing her control of the Gouveia furniture empire.

It started a few years ago when it became time to replace our sectional sofa. We discussed what we wanted, but I had an ultimate goal. I was willing to sacrifice color, style, perhaps even comfort on the sofa purchase. But I was fixated on and prepared to hold out for what I considered one critical yet practical necessity.

I wanted cup-holders. You know, places to put my drink while watching TV. I was willing to compromise and accept cup-holders hidden in the foldable arms, but I really considered cup-holders to be a vital and necessary piece of a functional sofa.

My wife reacted as if I had suggested selling advertising on the couch cushions. She told me cup-holders were for a frat house, not her house. I thought I could wear her down. I brought my youngest son with me during shopping to help plead my case. But in the end, it was simply a hill my forces were unable to secure. Today my beverages sit alone on the coffee table, hopelessly and helplessly out of my easy reach.

So I changed my strategy. I began to work on the coffee table itself. I saw these tables that rise and move towards you, then lower back to their original position. I considered this to be a wonderful compromise. I sent a peace emissary to my wife, and we began negotiations towards a non-violent settlement.

She showed some signs of weakness here. She actually went with me to the store, and eventually agreed to allow me to purchase a table she could “live with if I have to”. But she raised some valid points about the integrity of the table’s construction, and her attitude sent the message that a victory here would most likely cost me dearly in another yet-to-be-determined arena. I meekly surrendered my position, living to fight another day.

But she recently pulled off a major coup in the war. On our way back from the Cape one day, she slyly suggested we stop at a furniture store having a huge sale. It was not for us, she insisted, but rather to look for something her sister was seeking for our nephew. I fell for it.

Half an hour later we left the store – with a new kitchen set. I had not been aware we needed one. It consists of high wooden chairs that narrowly fit my ever-widening rear end. I am a beaten man.

I have informed my wife that should I spill a beverage on her carpet or couch, it is not my fault – I have no cup-holder. She merely shakes her head, and goes back to plotting her next move.

War is Hell. Now where did I put that drink?

Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and a thirsty veteran of the Marriage Wars. He can be reached at

1 comment:

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