A large part of the otherwise perfectly lovely and sunny Saturday just gone was spent in Ikea. The new apartment needs a kitchen.

Whilst my husband animatedly discussed and finalised the details of the kitchen, I found my energy levels draining by the minute. Putting together an Ikea kitchen is a long and tedious process, with my interest only lasting to the point of choosing the colour and the surface material.

Aside from my physical presence, my contribution was meagre. My husband, apparently anticipating my uselessness, tried to keep me occupied with small tasks such as choosing handles for the cupboards, looking around the show rooms and searching for refreshment. Each task successfully completed, I arrived back at our work station, where our virtual kitchen was to my dismay, still being pieced together by my husband and the Ikea kitchen advisor.  At one point, I felt we must be close to the end, only to be told firmly that this was far from the case.

Later, as I was stating my growing hunger, my husband leaned over my way and pointed out a few of the other couples at the computer terminals around us. Apparently I was the only woman in the vicinity not taking charge of the kitchen planning.

Hmm.

This off-hand social observation inadvertently resulted in a cascade of further observations. Ikea is a place of couples in all stages of life: young couples holding hands and gleaming with excitement at the prospect of their first home together, more established looking couples, couples expecting their first child, young families, couples with teenage children and couples accompanying their grown-up child probably on the move away from the family home. In fact, the only rarity in Ikea is an elderly couple. And amidst all this coupledom, the interplay between each couple is unique, intriguing and seemingly very telling.

4 hours, a reverie into coupledom and an obligatory Ikea hot dog later though, we thankfully had a kitchen.