Thursday, August 04, 2011

How to have a healthy marriage, and why almond milk is good for you

About a year ago I was informed that this blog had been put on a list of the top 50 blogs for marriage advice.  Considering that you can't swing a virtual dead cat without hitting 100 other blogs just like this one, and that I ain't exactly Dooce when it comes to the level of my readership, I was (pleasantly) surprised and a bit befuddled.  Then a few months ago some guy who wrote a book about marriage, and particularly Jewish marriage, contacted me and asked me to do a post for his blog and also to read and review his book (I would provide a link to his blog but now I can't find the email).  Because I am constantly overestimating my ability to get anything done, I told him I would and then promptly didn't.  Not to be an asshole, but let's just say it's a task that joins many others on a very long list.

But the thought of being asked for marriage or relationship advice or insight popped into my head yesterday when I was poking around in the fridge looking for almond milk.  I drink almond milk, and particularly use it to make my daily Shakeology shakes, because it's very low in calories and has no sugar, so it's perfect for my low glycemic diet

The thing is, there are two kinds of almond milk -- sweetened and unsweetened.  And obviously, I need the unsweetened kind.

J is working on a big job at a local supermarket that's undergoing massive refurbishment, so he does a lot of our shopping these days.  Which is great, because it saves me a chore (at least during the week), because now that I'm taking the bus to work, I can't just pop in to the grocery store on my way home from work anymore. 

But it's also a problem, because he is about the worst grocery shopper on the planet.

For some reason, in our relationship it has become my job to keep track of the contents of our pantry and refrigerator.  And maybe it is just a function of how my brain works -- I have the ability to see in my mind a snapshot of the cupboards or fridge at any given time, so I can pretty much always tell you what we have and what we need.  Plus, I assume that if I am aware of the fact that we are out of soy sauce, everyone else is aware of that fact as well, so if they happen to be at the grocery store, they will know to pick up a bottle of soy sauce without me having to tell them.  Or that at least, if someone else is going to go to the store, they will let me know beforehand and say something like, "I'm going to the store.  I'm going to get cheese, pasta, pasta sauce and laundry detergent.  Is there anything else we need?"  And then I'll say, "don't forget the soy sauce."

But invariably, one of two things happens. 
  • I will go to the store and replenish the soy sauce supply, and then J will go the store and ALSO buy more soy sauce, so we end up with an entire section of the fridge devoted to soy sauce; or
  • J will do some shopping without telling me in advance, will be oblivious to the lack of soy sauce in the house (even though he's the only one who uses it) and will not buy any, and then the next time I make red Thai curry chicken, he will ask me for soy sauce and then be annoyed when I explain that we don't have any.
Actually, three things - I just thought of a third.
  • I will say I'm going to the store and ask him if there's anything he can think of that we need.  He'll say "soy sauce," because he only glanced in the fridge for .38 seconds and didn't see the bottle of soy sauce hiding in plain sight next to the bottle of Newman's Own salad dressing.  I'll say, "don't we already have soy sauce?" because I have my mental picture.  J will say, "no."  I'll think to myself, I could have sworn we had some, but he's the one that uses it, so I guess he finished it without my realizing it.  Then I will buy soy sauce.  When I get home, I will be annoyed when I go to put it away when I find that we already had a full bottle sitting right under our noses.
J is also a bad grocery shopper because he doesn't pay attention to labels.  And I don't just mean the details of nutritional labels, like how many calories or fat grams are in anything.  I'm talking about the basics.  One time he said he was going to the store, so I asked him to pick up some shredded cheddar cheese because we were going to have chili for dinner.  He came home with fake, non-dairy soy cheese-type substance.  When I was getting dinner ready and grabbed the "cheese" and saw what it was, I asked, "what the hell is this?"  "Oh, I just grabbed it.  I didn't realize what it was."

Cue the eye roll.

So, back to the almond milk. 

Last week, when he told me he was going to do some grocery shopping, I asked him to pick up some almond milk.  I said, "make sure it's the unsweetened kind.  It will say 'unsweetened' on it.  If it doesn't say, 'unsweetened,' don't get it.  It's sweetened by default, so get the kind that says, 'unsweetened.'" 

I must have told him this 5 or 6 different times.  He "yeah yeah"-ed me.

He came home with the sweetened kind.

Then again, two nights ago he was going to do some grocery shopping.  I gave him a list.  On the list, I wrote "almond milk."  When I gave him the list, I said, "please make sure it's the unsweetened kind."  I said this repeatedly.  He "yeah yeah"-ed me.

So there I am yesterday, poking around in the fridge, looking for almond milk.  All I can find is the same carton of sweetened milk that I can't drink.

"I thought you were getting almond milk?  It was on the list."

"But we already have some, right there," he responded.

I took a deep breath and tried to keep my head from exploding.

You hear people talk about communication being the key to a healthy relationship.  And I wholeheartedly agree with that.  But I think I would focus on a different kind of communication than the kind talked about in every other article in women's magazines. 

Don't talk about your deep-down feelings or that kind of shit.  Really, most of the time, who the fuck cares? 

I'm talking about communicating -- both talking and listening -- about the basics.  Chores.  Laundry.  Grocery shopping.  Where you put the kids' shoes when you came home from the pool, so that the next time we go out I know where their shoes are.

The little things that make everyday life so tedious.  My feeling is, if you make those things smoother, everything is smoother.  Remove the small annoyances that build up into big annoyances and grumpiness.

If you're the only one that knows what's in the fridge, just accept that fact, make a list and keep it someplace conspicious.  And when your spouse says, "make sure you get the unsweetened almond milk," then get the motherfucking unsweetened almond milk.

But also, when you don't get what you want, take a deep breath and keep your head from exploding.  Because in the grand scheme of things, life goes on.

It's just almond milk.


  1. Good God you absolutely spoke about Justin and I in this post. I am definitely you in this situation, and could pull my hair out and weep sometimes over the fact that he hears me but doesn't seem to ACTUALLY HEAR what I'm saying. I will absolutely keep this in mind as a mantra though: "It's just almond milk." He will probably hear me muttering this to myself, even though neither of us drinks it :)

  2. omg EXACTLY!! Nathan does this about plans also - I'll have told him 3 times the day before what is going on the next day and he still won't remember. I always ask "how many times do I have to patiently repeat myself before I'm allowed to lose my temper?"

    He says "his brain just works differently" than mine. Ugh.

  3. I've gotten so many responses to this post along the lines of, "you have described my life to a 'T.'" I guess their brains are wired differently. Or they get really stupid when they get married/cohabitate because they know they can.

  4. Michelle L.7:08 PM

    I also have the little mental picture. I always get hubby's daily needs (bananas, yogurt for smoothies) when I see we are running low. He's great about picking up food for dinner AND cooking it, so I can hardly complain and have given up my fantasy of his remembering to pick up my dailies (1/2 n 1/2, non-banana fruit) without me having to ask him to.

  5. Anonymous8:02 AM

    I can't relate because I'm not married or otherwise attached to anyone so if I forget to pick something up, it's all my fault.

    Motherfucking unsweetened almond milk....LOVE IT!

    Look for it to be a status in the near future.