I believe I frustrated my husband Mike this past Saturday. While he was out buying the stuff he needed for the renovations on our living room, I decided to shop for purses.

Why should he be frustrated, you may ask; you were both shopping for something. Technically, no. Mike was buying; I was shopping.

After 36 years of marriage, I have learned that for Mike, shopping is equivalent to hunting, while buying is equivalent to shooting the game. There is a frustration for him in doing one without having the satisfaction of finishing with the other.

My particular situation began at breakfast. While we were finishing our cereal and coffee, I asked him what he had planned for the day.

“I’m going to Lowes to buy a saw blade and wood so I can work on the staircase today.”

“Yeah!” I clapped, “I love going to Lowes. And while we’re in the area, let’s stop and buy Joshua’s birthday gift so we can mail it. And we need to get some milk and dog food.”

While Mike was checking his email, I ran to the bathroom to pull my hair back into a clip and put on a little makeup; after all, what if I ran into someone we know at Lowes?

We drove to Lowes and went to the aisle where a large array of saw blades was hanging. It took Mike about 2 minutes to select the one he wanted and then we went to the lumber section. Mike discussed the various features between poplar and pine with a sales associate and then asked my opinion. “It’s wood,” I shrugged. “As long as it’s pretty, I don’t care.” After a bit more thought, Mike chose the poplar and took his items to the check out.

Total time spent at Lowes: 15 minutes.

Then my part of the outing began.

We stopped at one store to buy a birthday present for our son Joshua who, along with his twin sister Anna, is turning 25 next week. Joshua is in grad school in Maryland, so we have to buy his gift earlier. Then we drove to Wal-Mart to buy the milk and dog food. After getting both items, Mike pushed the cart towards the check out. We were passing the photo section when I ran over to look at the digital picture frames.

“What are you doing?” Mike asked.

“Just looking.”

“We’re not buying a digital picture frame today.”

“I know. I’m just shopping around; I want to know where the best deal is when we buy.”

Total shopping time: 10 minutes.

I rejoined Mike and we continued towards the front. That’s when we passed the house wares. I had to run down the aisle to look at the sheets.

“We don’t need any sheets,” Mike sighed.

“I know,” I replied. “I want a set of 700 count Egyptian cotton sheets and…”

“…want to know where the best deal is,” Mike finished.

I was getting the idea that my husband was not happy with my side trips – no matter how much money I might save him in the future – and rejoined him.

Total shopping time: 20 minutes.

Two more aisles and we passed the purses.

In my defense, Mike knew that I had been shopping around for a new purse. It’s not as if I buy a new one every season; the one I’ve been using is 5 years old. The problem is that I am very picky about purses and won’t buy until I find exactly the right one. Which means I have to look at each purse on the shelves at every store that sells them.

Which means Mike was left standing in the aisle, waiting once again.

“Is she spending all your money?” an elderly gentleman asked Mike.

“No,” Mike replied. “She’s just shopping.” My ordinarily patient husband’s voice dripped with sarcasm.

I took the cue and rejoined Mike. We quickly checked out and drove home.

Total shopping time without buying anything more: 45 minutes.

We pulled into the driveway around; it was nearly 11:00. Instead of having most of the day work on the living room stairs, my shopping trip had cost my husband all of the morning.

I made lunch while Mike set up his sawhorses and changed out the saw blade. By the time he finished a turkey sandwich and bowl of soup, he was ready to attack – I mean work on – the living room stairs.

I thought it best to leave him alone to measure, cut, and screw the wood onto the staircase. I spent the afternoon the kitchen, making soup, chili, and guacamole and baking oatmeal cookies. Every now and then, I would go into the living room with a cookie or a chip with guacamole for Mike to taste.

Peace offering or bribe…it’s hard to tell. All I know is that spring planting time is right around the corner and while I love buying flowers, I need Mike to help dig the holes for planting.

Maybe I’d better bake another batch of cookies.