They say the first few years of marriage are stressful, resulting in lots of fights. Add a new baby to the mix and the situation becomes even more volatile. I used to think marriage and being new parents CAUSED a lot of the fighting. But that’s not true. Instead, marriage and parenthood CHANGES the nature of the fights and subsequently escalates them.
MJ called me at work on Friday and said she was headed to the grocery store. She asked me if I needed anything and I told her yes, I needed grape jelly. Smuckers grape jelly to be exact. We even talked about how I was a jelly snob because I required this exact brand of jelly or else I couldn’t eat PB&J sandwiches.
At this point I feel the need to mention that my wife is one of those annoying, Type A personality types who makes lists. Especially grocery lists. Trips to the grocery store are planned out well in advance in our house. It is more like a tactical military operation than a trip to the local store. First she makes a preliminary list days before she goes shopping. She proceeds to add to that list over the next few days as more and more items pop into her head. Then, a final master list is made just before the shopping excursion. And the final items are added to the master list on her way to the grocery store when she calls me and asks if I have any last minute items.
My wife may not be able to remember the plot of a movie or my birthday, but her mind is a friggin steel trap when it comes to the grocery list.
That’s why, to my utter confusion, I was flabbergasted when I couldn’t find the jelly to make my sandwich when I got home from work.
“Hey babe, where’d you put the jelly?” I asked.
“I forgot it,” came the flat reply from the couch as she continued to watch TV.
Forgot it? Forgot it?? She forgot something on the list???? This couldn’t be. I studied her for a moment and asked her again where the jelly was, figuring that she was screwing with me. Instead of answering, she just kept staring at the TV. So I redoubled my efforts to search for the jelly and got ready to share a big laugh with her about trying to trick me.
Except search as I might, there was no jelly to be found.
“You really forgot the jelly?” I asked, more surprised by her forgetting an item on the list than angry about my lack of jelly.
And that’s when things went terribly, terribly wrong…
“Yes, I forgot the fucking jelly! There’s no jelly! You’ve already asked me if there’s jelly and I said no. Fucking get over it!”
I tried to explain to her that I thought she was messing with me. I tried to tell her that I wasn’t mad. I told her I was just shocked because she’s so OCD about the shopping list, and she specifically called and asked me what I needed and I told her jelly. One item was all I added and she had forgotten it. No big deal, I said.
That’s when she sprung up from the couch and started putting her shoes and coat on.
“What are you doing?” I asked incredulously.
“I’m going to the store to get your precious jelly,” she said.
Now I was just pissed. Somehow I had become the bad guy even though I had done nothing wrong. Not to mention the baby was sleeping and her stomping around and yelling was going to wake him up. So for the next 10 minutes I had to physically block the door so she wouldn’t leave, all the while telling her how ridiculous it was to be fighting this much over Smuckers.
It was 10 minutes of screaming and arguing and over what? A jar of jelly! And that’s when I realized that marriage doesn’t create fights, it simply escalates them from a non-issue into World War III. When I think about it now, I crack up laughing because it’s so absurd. But right then — in the heat of our jelly rage — it was the most important thing on Earth. And that’s just crazy.
Because if I’m going to get divorced, it’s gonna be for a good reason. Like I had a threesome with Jennifer Anniston and Angelina Jolie or the Red Sox finally come to their senses and sign me to a lucrative contract as a lefty relief pitcher to replace El Guapo and I’m never home because I’m on the road all the time.
But jelly? Man…thank God we have a Christmas party, a babysitter and copious amounts of alcohol waiting for us this Saturday. We’re gonna need to get nice and drunk for a night to forget about all our recent troubles.
And then maybe we’ll use the jelly for a good cause! =)