Today’s post was inspired by a section from Max Lucado’s new book “Outlive Your Life.” I have a review of that book here. The section inspiring this post can be found beginning on page 33 of the hardcopy edition.

It seems so simple. All that is expected is one simple task – pick up something from the store. Sometimes it’s milk. Sometimes it’s bread. Sometimes it’s things that men don’t like to purchase. Regardless of the item, though, the outcome is often the same. We arrive at home with a host of items but not the primary item. If multiple items were on the list, we arrive at home with about 80% of them, usually missing the most important items.

And while I usually avoid over-stereotyping things in terms of gender roles, this behavior seems to afflict men more than women. So what can a wife do? I’m glad you asked. Today’s post provides tips to help.

  1. Do not ask us to pick up just one item. – This is too much pressure for most of us. Telling us you only need one thing is about the same as saying “This is really simple, don’t mess it up.” This pressure to perform activates our competitive genes causing us to attempt to do better than expected. “You only need one item? No problem. I can bring home 10 items!” And once we get distracted trying to bring home the best stuff our chances of remembering the one item is greatly reduced.
  2. Do not tell us which item is most important. – If you are giving us a list of items, but you need eggs more than any of the others keep that information to yourself. Putting that item on priority increases the likelihood that it will be the item missed. It should be accepted that we will only arrive home with 80% of the items on the list. That means that you have an 8-in-10 chance that your most important item will make it home to us. Calling it out as the most important item reverses those chances to 2-in-10.
  3. Throw in some unnecessary items. – Given our assumption that only 80% of the items will be purchased, you can increase the odds of getting your preferred items by adding in unnecessary items. I’m pretty sure my wife does this. How else can you justify items like corn starch and baking powder? I’ve never seen those items used and am pretty sure they are only on the list to increase the odds of the other items making it home.

But seriously: It is funny how a simple task like picking up milk can become a source of frustration, but it’s not funny when couples allow little frustrations to cause friction in their marriage. Can you laugh together when one of you does something frustrating or annoying? Or does everything become an instant argument? Your marriage is too important to allow little things to rip it apart.

What about you? I would love to hear your stories about times like this. Did this post describe your spouse? Do wives do this too?