After we paid off the mortgage in November 2018, Ikea became our new place to hang out on the weekends besides Home Depot and Costco.
I know Ikea furniture is considered average for a lot of people.
But when hubby and I were paying off the mortgage, their prices were just simply too high for us.
You might be wondering how we furnished our home.
And the answer is trash finds, free stuff from friends and neighbors, and Bob’s Discount Furniture.
I remember us going to Ikea two years ago and were shocked at how expensive everything was.
We came home with two rugs worth $5 each and never came back until recently.
One thing we didn’t expect, however, was that we’d often disagree on what we should bring home from Ikea.
And that’s also how we started the new year exactly on January 1, 2019.
New Year’s Eve
On December 31, 2018, we decided to welcome the new year by doing something we had never done before: going out to get kabob late at night.
Mr. FAF’s friend recommended a popular kabob restaurant that’s about 30 minutes away from our house. On New Year’s Eve, Mr. FAF convinced me to go out with him after our baby fell asleep.
My father-in-law and our son had already gone to bed at 9 PM. But our baby had no fixed schedule. And despite our attempt to put her to bed early, she didn’t fall asleep until 11 PM.
Feeling assured that my FIL would watch both of our kids if they woke up, we were excited to go on a date without kids, something we hadn’t done in months.
There was a super long line at the kabob place, so we waited for more than 30 minutes to get beef and lamb kabob with bread. We decided to eat in the car instead of staying at the restaurant.
Hubby and I had a great time reviewing what we had and hadn’t achieved in 2018 and what we wanted to do in 2019 while eating the kabob in the car.
When we got home, it was already 1 AM. Both of our kids were sound asleep. I went to bed while Mr. FAF continued to eat the leftover kabob and drank red wine alone.
We both love kabob.
The next morning
I was waken up by our baby at 5 AM. I nursed her and waited for her to fall back to sleep and went back to bed at 6 AM. I finally got up at 8:30 AM when our baby woke up and started crying.
I felt exhausted and sleepy since I hadn’t gotten good sleep for days prior to that. However, our plan for that day was to go to Ikea and check out some room designs for Mr. FAF’s study room.
Mr. FAF’s most favorite model for his study room
I loved this model, but maybe it’s too girly for Mr. FAF (ehem).
While strolling around the store, Mr. FAF said he wanted to get another trash can for the living room which is only 5 steps away from the kitchen where there are already 2 trash cans (one big and one small).
I told him we had two other trash cans which had sat in the storage for more than 3 years. I raised that point to him and was immediately dismissed. Mr. FAF seemed irritated and picked up a $1.99 trash can and walked away with the cart.
I felt so upset. It was an unnecessary purchase that would only clutter our house. The fact is I am the only one who cleans the house on a regularly basis.
We have a tiny townhouse, and I want to keep everything as simple and clean as possible. Mr. FAF barely does any cleaning and only wants to bring home random stuff and leaves them everywhere.
In fact, we had a spring yard sale just a couple of months ago where I swore to myself not to bring anything unnecessary back to our house. It had taken me two days to clean up the clutter and another four hours to sell $68 worth of stuff.
Mr. FAF, however, never needed what I said. Sometimes I wonder if he things there’s some magic that makes our house clean and tidy in a minute.
I felt a rush of frustration and anger about him disregarding my opinion. It brought back all the memories and exhaustion cleaning up all the messes in our house.
If you want to know how frustrating it is to live with a disorganized spouse, you should check out this post.
In a nutshell, Mr. FAF is so disorganized that he spends at least 15-30 minutes looking for something almost every day. He then keeps asking me where his stuff is or tells me to find it for him, which I think is a huge waste of our time.
And it could be easily prevented if he were more organized.
I was so upset I didn’t want to say anything. My mood was also clouded by the sleep deprivation from the night and days before.
We had originally planned to go back to the kabob place since the meat was so good. But I lost my appetite and didn’t want to go anywhere. I told Mr. FAF I didn’t want to go anymore and just wanted to go home.
He got angry with me for changing the plan. He ended up dropping me off in front of the house and drove away with our son to get food somewhere.
I was sleep deprived, exhausted, hungry, and yes, angry. We ended up not talking to each other for a week.
Related: The Costs of Marital Conflict
The importance of stuff
When Mr. FAF and I didn’t have much money early in the marriage, we fought about buying stuff. Now that we have a bit more money, we still fight about buying stuff.
Somehow, “stuff” has become the topic of contention in our marriage more often than I’d like to admit.
Over the past 5 years of marriage, I’ve learned to let the small stuff go. On the surface, it might seem like it’s not worth to fight with your spouse over something so trivial as a $2 trash can.
However, when you dig deeper, it’s never just about the trash can. In my mind, the $2 trash can just symbolized Mr. FAF’s disregard of the mess in our house, something he rarely helps to bring into order.
The trash can is just one of the unnecessary things he brings into our house without consulting with me or agreeing with me on. And in the end, I am the one who has to clean it up or try to get rid of it after he gets tired of his “stuff.”
For example, Mr. FAF bought a $500 desk from Amazon and got tired of it after a week or two. After holding on to the desk for 3.5 years, he finally decided to get rid of it.
The only catch is that I was the one who went online and posted on a bunch of Facebook groups to find someone to come pick it up for free. I was also the one who helped that person carry the desk from the second floor to his car since Mr. FAF was having hip pain and couldn’t carry heavy stuff.
And in his mind, I might sound like such an annoying wife who tells him not to buy this and that, all the things he thinks might bring joy into his life.
There’s a disconnect in what we perceive to be important in our lives. Lack of money to buy things can put a strain on our marriage. And an abundance of money to buy things can also create tension in our lives.
I want to pursue a minimalist lifestyle so that I don’t have to spend so much time cleaning and can just enjoy some of the empty space in our house.
Mr. FAF, on the other hand, thinks that we need to fill the empty space with stuff, probably to make up for the time when we didn’t have much.
An expected twist
One Saturday morning, Mr. FAF told me at breakfast that he had just watched an episode of Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and was inspired by the show. He told me he even took notes.
After breakfast, he went to tidy up two rooms in the house (one he uses for studying, and the other for sleeping). He eagerly asked me to check out the two rooms afterwards and tell him what I thought.
I was pleasantly surprised by how tidy the two rooms were. He cleaned up the clutter, washed a blanket that had been sitting on the floor beside his bed for days, and took out the trash.
And the nice thing is that he didn’t mention buying a love seat, another desk or a dresser to fill up the empty space. He was just fine with the amount of stuff he had in the two rooms, and so was I.
I’m not sure if Mr. FAF’s interest in Tidying Up will fade away soon and when. But it’s just so great to know that even for a short while he will learn how to keep our house tidy and free of unnecessary items.
I had watched Marie Kondo’s show even before Mr. FAF did. But I never thought he’d be interested. But Mr. FAF said he wants to change. He wants to be more organized since it benefits not only his life but also his work.
And I felt appreciative of what he said and how Tidying Up has helped our lives and our marriage. Sometimes it just takes an outsider’s perspective to change the dynamic of a married couple. And I guess this time it works for us.
We might not have a happy first day of 2019. But I hope that the rest of the year will be a new journey of introspection, minimalism, and happiness for us.