x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Married life: Supermarket's a battleground

Grocery shopping is one area where my husband and I don't see eye to eye.

When I send my husband off to the supermarket with a list that says cucumbers, he will inevitably call to ask: "How many cucumbers do you need exactly? Five? Six?"

In the beginning, it used to drive me nuts. When I ask for cooking oil, does he really have to call me every time to ask whether to get corn or vegetable oil? "Just get the brand we always use," I tell him.

"Umm, remind me, which brand is that?"

Our grocery shopping habits have evolved in halts and spurts over the months we've been together. At the beginning of our marriage, it never occurred to us to grocery shop at all. We were a little surprised that staples did not miraculously appear in our kitchen cupboards, and condiments never made it to our refrigerator. I was always waiting for him to walk through the door laden with bulging shopping bags, as I've seen my father do all my life. But my husband is used to his mother being in charge of the weekly shopping and so he quietly awaited further instructions.

It took a while for us to realise we did not need to mimic the household management habits of our parents, and had to find our own rhythm when organising chores and errands.

Cue our first grocery shopping trip together, which, incidentally, coincided with our first falling out. Every time I'd place something in our trolley, he'd grab it to examine the production and expiry date. Every time he'd select an item off the shelf, I'd snatch it away and explain why the brand was not good enough, fresh enough or nutritionally sound enough.

Grocery shopping is one of the few things I do not enjoy doing with my husband. We can never agree on where to shop or what to buy. I am very particular about how a shopping trip should unfold; he does not see the method in my madness. Then there's the argument we always have about where to purchase our groceries. I have no qualms about heading to the slightly more expensive outlet with the imported products, for its clean, quiet, well-lit aisles and convenient parking. I'm willing to pay the somewhat exorbitant prices for the ease of shopping there. Mr T, however, is not.

That is why I started sending him to the shop with a list - and why my phone rings eight to 10 times once he gets there. "It says washing liquid on the list. Is that for the washing machine or washing dishes or what? And what kind?" Two minutes later: "I can't tell between the coriander and the parsley."

The only solution I can think of is sending long-winded lists, heavy with excessive detail, directly to his BlackBerry. His answer? Taking pictures of grocery shelves with the blasted BlackBerry and sending them to me, demanding I make a choice.

I don't think a solution to this conundrum exists.