The Nay-Nay of Shopping

To the Men I know,

Learning how to shop with your spouse may be one of those necessary skills every husband should have in his matrimonial tool bag. Developing that skill will require you to master the art of grazing.

Disclaimer Alert: Some may perceive the following Reflection as politically incorrect. However, research by the Wharton School of Business in a study titled “Men Buy, Women Shop” (1), actually confirms that this particular pattern of behavior is not sexist or insensitive, but is generally true.

We entered Target with the goal of buying clothes for the newest grandchild and a birthday gift for the oldest grandchild. Seemed a rather simple plan to this husband to divide and conquer. My wife would seek out the clothes while I found the Captain America Lego set. We would meet at the card section and walk together to the checkout lane and easily be home before dinner.

Nay, Nay.”

Hearing that response, I immediately realized that my shopping expedition game plan was not as simple as I first thought. I had forgotten one of the fundamental behavioral differences in the nature of the sexes, at least when it comes to shopping. I had learned decades earlier that men are hunters. We hunt it, kill it, clean it, eat it. Or in shopping terms, we find it, buy it, unwrap it, use it. We have a goal, an objective. We never say, “Let’s go shopping.” We state a clear mission statement — “I am going to Home Depot to buy a hammer.” Make a list, stay focused, and you won’t overspend, right?

Women say, “Let’s go shopping.” Shopping for what? It doesn’t matter. Shopping, I had learned, is really a synonym for grazing. Don’t believe me? Look it up in a Thesaurus. The first recommended substitute is “window-shopping,” aka comparison shopping, aka grazing. How could I forget such a basic variation in the male-female shopping DNA?

It only took thirty steps into Target before my wife stopped to look at a display. It was not a child’s toy. It was not child’s clothing. It was something altogether different. When I politely sought to enlighten her as to my shopping “hunter” strategy, I was immediately admonished with “Nay, Nay, we will shop together, it’s a family bonding experience, besides I might find something else I need.”

Bonding? I thought we came to buy gifts for our grandchildren. Who the heck said anything about bonding? After a quick visual scan of the 175,000 square foot Super Target Store, I could only sigh.

My wife saw this massive monument to capitalism as something to be explored, evaluating all options before making a purchase. After all, there might be a better sale on the next aisle. I feared she would make too many impulse buys, while she feared I would miss a better price and spend too much.

Despite the fact my masculine gender tends to reflect the “hunter” mindset, I am also a pragmatist. Upon further reflection, I must confess, that on occasion, I do give in to my feminine side and leisurely graze while sojourning through the local Home Depot or Ace Hardware. After all, they may have an improved version of duct tape, or a more powerful cordless drill, or, my favorite — a better digital stud-finder.

Uh-oh, maybe we are more alike than I want to admit.

Regardless, there is a lesson to be learned: When in the company of one’s spouse, adapt and learn to graze a little. Or the next time one wants to go to Home Depot, one might hear…….

Nay, Nay!”


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  1. Gini

    Buddy, you are so right on with this. Were you trailing behind us when we “shop” together? Words that are difficult for me to hear are, ” Why do we need this?” “What’s wrong with the 20 year old throw we have?” or ” Don’t you have a pair of summer shoes?”.


  2. Janet Johnson

    Love it! >


  3. Sharon

    You’re posts always give me a chuckle, and I hate to admit that you are right about this one, at least in our case!!


  4. Tanya Cassidy

    Buddy, it looks like only women are commenting on this! Nay, Nay


  5. Bill Grothaus

    When going shopping with spouse I call it taking inventory as she may not buy anything but does want to look at everything if needing anything specific or not
    If in mood to do same I follow or just let her go herself or with a friend who also likes to take inventory
    We do a lot better bonding this way

    It’s all good just men shop different than their spouse and there is equal time for both


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