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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Greenberg

"Couch Time Chronicles: Navigating Marriage, Homeownership, and Connection Through the Right Couch"

My husband and I, like many millennials, struggled to save enough money to buy a house. We were lucky enough that my parents let us live with them until we had enough for a down payment. When we packed up our apartment to move, we put spices and other kitchen staples into a box in storage thinking it would only be a couple months. We had decided we would move in, have our wedding, and by January 2022, we would be out on our own. Unfortunately, the housing market took a turn and we were living in my childhood bedroom for a year and half. While I am forever grateful to have the support in our lives, living rent free at your parents as an adult truly does cost you your mental health. We missed our privacy, of course, and as newlyweds it felt like we were in limbo. The biggest part of our independent lives, however, was sitting on our couch. Sure, we would sometimes hang out with my parents but more often than not, Dad was watching a game on TV and we would hole up in our room. I truly felt like Grandpa Joe, lying in bed regardless of the time of day. Grandpa Joe is one of my least favorite characters in film history so you can imagine the distress.

We finally found something affordable and began to collect used furniture from those around us. My FIL offered us a couch in great condition. It was everything I did not want in a couch. A leather sectional recliner. It took up our living room in our row home and it felt like we were on separate islands as we reclined separately. We would try to snuggle but the deep seats of the couch made that difficult and uncomfortable. I hated it and the couch became a symbol of discontent. We talked about it in couples therapy and made the decision to drop money on new furniture. (The sectional went to the right home and is now being enjoyed by two large dogs, three wild kiddos, and their very tired parents).

Drs. John and Julie Gottman are relationship researchers and clinical psychologists, and they’ve changed the way therapists approach couples therapy. They preach “small things often,” as  Dr. John Gottman says, “Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts.” The easiest way to practice this ideology is through undivided and purposeful time together.

When I started the Gottman training, The Sound Relationship House was one of the foundations of the training. There are several floors to the house but floor 7 is “create shared meaning.” The Gottmans refer to this as developing a culture of symbols and rituals that express who you are as a team. Part of building a life with someone is figuring out what you want your rituals of connection to be. 

One of our rituals of connection that ended up being incredibly important to our marriage is couch time. As both of us are busy business owners, we were missing that time to snuggle, to be close to one another, to touch and feel and settle in for the night. During the training, John even mentioned how important it is for lovers to be able to snuggle and that “cuddle couches” were becoming more prevalent. When we decided to buy a chair and a half recliner chair (that does not fit with our new couch because we didn’t measure because we got too excited…it’s fine) the sales person at the store stated that they referred to this chair as the snuggle chair and it was selling more than most of their other items.

When we were on our separate island recliners, we truly felt more disconnected from one another. My husband and I have made it a practice that when we are on the couch together, our phones are down. When we sit down and watch 20-year-old episodes of Survivor, we are practicing intimacy. We are showing each other that this time matters, that we are present, that we are safe and loved and together. And we are doing it comfortably on a couch that very well might turn me into Grandpa Joe anyway.

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