SWEDEN: Does the IKEA and H&M culture feed the high divorce rate in Sweden?

Originally published November 23, 2009 and republished in light of the Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren woods divorce melée.
ikeaWhen one thinks of IKEA and H&M, concepts like “modern” “streamlined” “trendy” and “cool” come to mind. But so might “disposable” “cheap”  “temporary” and “transitory.”
The other day, I stumbled on a blog on which the issue of divorce and the influence of these two Swedish brands was being discussed. At first I thought, “how preposterous” that people were trying to imply that the divorce rate in Sweden, which is possibly higher than the divorce rate in the United States, is somehow connected to IKEA and H&M. But it may not be as ludicrous as it appears at first blush.
There is a certain impermanence to the IKEA and H&M line of products. They are definitely “not built to last.” The generation that came of age on these brands would definitely have a whole different mindset to those who came of age prior. No one can argue that neither of these brands produce products intended to “stand the test of time.” These are quick, easy, cheap and disposable types of products, built for a time only; it is fully intended by brand makers that these items will be replaced as often as possible. This is how they make their money. On mass production and disposability.
In a related vein, people who trend towards IKEA and H&M have a certain mindset. They are definitely people in the “now.” They want that quick fix. They are fashionable, trendy and cool. They like new things, fresh things. They replace things as soon as they break. They want the latest, newest fashions they can find. And preferably, they like to hang out with others like themselves.
That could be a problem in marriage. Because marriage is not supposed to be disposable. It is not supposed to be replaced as soon as the newest, trendiest thing comes on the market. Marriage is supposed to stand the test of time. Couples are supposed to work out their problems and hang in there till “death do them part.”
But as we can discern from the divorce rate in Sweden, that is not happening. The divorce rate is climbing. Swedes are not staying married for very long. They trade in their marriages almost as fast as they trade in their outfits and furniture. Clearly, the marriages that come of age in the era of IKEA and H&M are mimicking one of the negative images of the brands – transiency – and that is detrimental to their marriage retention rates.
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