05/04/2016 11:35 EDT | Updated 05/05/2017 05:12 EDT

Why I Prefer To Shop Alone

Andersen Ross via Getty Images
Man pushing shopping trolley in store aisle

Personally, I don't get it. And when I say "it", I mean shopping with other people. When it comes to purchases of almost any kind, I prefer to shop alone. In fact, I am so adamant about this that I'm thinking of buying myself a lapel button, a bumper sticker and a business card prominently featuring the phrase "I shop alone."

For years now, I've seen couples performing their weekly grocery shopping together. They make their way through the grocery store aisles usually with the husband driving the cart and the wife selecting items to be placed therein. Much to my surprise, they appear to be happy pursuing this task.

As for me, I cannot think of a surer path to an acrimonious divorce than a regular joint grocery shopping trip with my wife. And I'm pretty sure if you asked her, she'd say the same thing.

My wife and I subscribe to two entirely different grocery shopping philosophies. Cheryl is a founding member of the "If you need it, buy it" school of purchasing. She does not check out store flyers or sale prices nor does she collect grocery coupons. I, on the other hand, am an ardent believer in the "never pay full price unless you absolutely have to" philosophy.

I cannot think of a surer path to an acrimonious divorce than a regular joint grocery shopping trip with my wife.

In the previous millennium, there were a couple of occasions when Cheryl and I did try a joint grocery shopping trip. Needless to say, they did not go well. Cheryl was content to grab what she wanted from the shelf with no regard to price. I spent most of my time replacing those items back on the store shelves.

It quickly became apparent to both of us that shopping for food was something best done alone. Thus, for the last twenty years, we have gone our separate ways in the grocery aisles and managed to achieve a kind of supermarket détente.

You might think that this approach is, if you'll pardon the expression, a recipe for disaster but somehow it works. Given my gender, I am the primary shopper or hunter-gatherer, particularly since I retired and began doing most of the cooking.

Cheryl still does some of the shopping primarily for those additional items she wants like her favourite tea, her special bread and the extra items she needs for the occasional time when she cooks a meal. If she intends to buy anything else, she generally checks the pantry or with me to ensure that we don't already have it.

This "I shop alone" approach has served us well and provided a workable philosophy underpinning a secure union. Given our arrangement, I cannot fathom why other couples risk marital discord by buying groceries together.

Think about it; even if by some miracle their shopping philosophies are identical, there are other reasons why this approach makes no sense. First and foremost, it is inefficient. Why have two people carry out a function which can be performed just as easily, if not more easily, by one?

Some might suggest that co-shopping provides an opportunity for couples to spend quality time together. I disagree. Surely it is better to allow one partner to engage in a self-indulgent pastime while the other carries out what is essentially a mundane chore. If the two of you consider a joint grocery trip to be quality time, you're either running a restaurant together or you have some work to do on your marriage.

I am a firm believer in the shop alone credo for almost any form of personal commercial purchase. Whether it's buying hardware, software or casual wear, I shop alone. The only exception might be a new suit which, given my faulty fashion sense, would normally require my wife's input. But since I'm now 66 and retired, the last thing I intend to spend money on is a new suit even if it's half price.

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