Marriage is one of the most wonderful experiences in the world, second only, some would argue, to not being married. All marriages have their ups and downs. If you ask me, the key to a long, happy marriage is to be patient, keep the lines of communication open, and at all costs, not to get sucked into shopping with your wife.

Nowhere are the fundamental differences between men and women more pronounced than by how we shop. There are two ways of going about this: the way women do it and the correct way. When men enter a retail store, the purchasing experience usually goes something like this:

Man: Do you have these sneakers in size 10?

Store clerk: Yes, we do.

Man: Great. Here’s my credit card.

The entire transaction lasts roughly the length of an Old Spice commercial.

For women, on the other hand, shopping involves a complex journey through countless retail stores on a quest for the elusive Hope Diamond of outfits. If you’re obliging enough to tag along, buckle up, buddy. You’re in for a long, exhausting ride. And if your wife insists on bringing your seven-year-old twins along for some new outfits, well, not to sound overly dramatic, but there’s a 10% chance you may not make it out alive.

Let’s back up. If your wife asks if you’d like to accompany her to the mall “to check out some sales,” there is, of course, only one correct answer: Over my dead body. I’d rather have a root canal. Now, to be clear, I don’t actually suggest you utter the aforementioned phrase verbatim. You might want to say it in code, such as, Oh, I would hate to get in the way of your fun afternoon. How ‘bout you call your friend Charlotte and have a girls’ day out. If that fails, follow up with, Here’s my credit card. This day is on me. I love you, Sweetie.

When your wife persists – and trust me, she will – you need to be armed with a convincing excuse to get out of serving your sentence, I mean, accompanying her to the outlet stores. Here are a few possible examples:

I’d love to, honey, but today is the day I was going to work on the yard. (Translation: “the game is on TV”)

My Desert Storm war injury is acting up again, so I think I should stay off my feet. (Caution: Don’t use this if you’re under 45 or never actually served in the military.)

A buddy of mine is very ill. I promised to go cheer him up. (She is going to ask, Oh? Who? So be sure to add, Oh, you don’t know him.)

I strongly advise rehearsing your excuse several times in front of a mirror, because if you stumble, it could come off sounding like you’re lying, as in: A buddy of mine makes me ill. I promised to go beer him up. Oh, I don’t know him.

In that case, dude, you’re totally busted. Hope you like shopping for purses.

Now that we’ve established you can’t lie your way out of a paper bag, you may as well try to decipher how long your ordeal is likely to last. Casually ask your wife for a time estimate – and multiple it by four, just to be conservative. If she says, Oh, no more than three hours, you might want to book a reservation at a nearby Motel 6. You’re not making it home tonight.

Once you arrive at the mall, you still have a way to soften the blow of having your day completely shot to Hell.  Drop her at the entrance and ask if she minds if you chill in the car while she shops. That way, you can at least catch the game on your phone.

When that fails, tell her, You know, I have some shopping of my own I’d like to do. How about we meet up at the Panda Express in two hours? If she agrees, then stay in the car and catch the game.

If she convinces you to accompany her because you foolishly believed her lie that “it will be fun”, then briefly turn away to inspect your trousers for any remnants of your genitals. If they’re missing, proceed to the mall entrance. You might as well ask if you can carry her purse while you’re at it.

Say your wife is on a mission to buy shoes. She’s in luck. There are no less than sixteen shoe stores in this complex. And she will undoubtedly want to check out every last one of them – including Broncos, which only sells cowboy boots – an apparel she’s never worn for as long as you’ve known her.

When entering a store, immediately survey the premises for a place to sit down. Don’t hesitate for a nano-second because another husband is determined to grab the only spare seat before you do.

When your wife starts trying on outfits, make sure to tell her she looks great – even if she looks like she’s wrapped in a burlap sack. Respond with That’s incredible. You look so skinny in it. You have found the perfect dress! Looks like we’re done here! But trust me, you’re not. Not by a long shot. Because you just implied that she is fat.

Marriage Pointer: When your wife points out what she has in fact found the perfect dress and raves that it’s on sale for only $350, bite your tongue. Do not protest. Just nod and say, I agree. You should buy it! – anything to get this punishment over with faster.

After an exhausting day at the outlets, if you’re lucky, you might be able to relax on the couch when you get home. You might even get back in time for ESPN Sports Center. Uh Oh. I see you’ve caved to your wife’s TV choice of The Bachelor. Clearly, you’re a complete pushover – and, according to your wife, a wonderful husband.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2018

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